Archives: Spring 2015 Course Guide 


University of Pittsburgh
Duquesne University
 Carnegie Mellon University

In the future, as this program develops, the guide will include listings from other area colleges and universities.

This list represents courses with substantial content in Christian history, theology, culture, the Bible, and the relationships between Christianity and other religions. By including courses on this list, the Pittsburgh Christian Studies project does not endorse them or take responsibility for their content. Unless otherwise indicated, classes do not have prerequisites and do not fulfill general education requirements.

University of Pittsburgh

ENGLIT 0597 The Bible as Literature
Prof. David Brumble

MoWeFr 11-11:50 / Class #21026 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Literature and Writing Intensive

Tu 6-8:30 PM / Class # 11182 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Literature

We will be reading the Bible as Literature. This is to say that we will be discussing, for example, the story of Adam and Eve, the story of Noah and the flood, and the story of the crucifixion of Jesus as stories. We will try to understand these wonderful stories in their historical contexts, and so we will be discussing a wide range of background materials -- art, anthropology, history, and more.

ENGLIT 0797 The Bible as Literature 2
Prof. David Brumble

Th 6-8:30 / Class #27208


ENGLIT 0580 Intro to Shakespeare

Prof. Ulma Satyavolu  TuTh 2:30-3:45 / Class #10658 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Literature

Prof. Michael West  TuTh 11-12:15 / Class # 16899 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Literature

This course will introduce students to several of Shakespeare's plays, the historical context(s) in which they were written, and the traditions of interpreting and appraising Shakespeare which persist into our own time. Students may be expected to view at least one film version of a Shakespeare play, and to attend a local production, if available.

ENGLIT 0580 Introduction to Shakespeare
Prof. Curtis Breight

MoWe 4:30-5:45 / Class # 24360 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Literature

We 6-8:30 PM / Class # 11284 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Literature

This section of Introduction to Shakespeare will focus on plays arguably representing the best of Shakespeare's output in the genre of comedy (Twelfth Night) and of tragedy (Hamlet), as well as two powerful history plays that set up a history that's really a tragedy (Richard III). We shall screen all or parts of adaptations for our major plays, and attend a local production if relevant to what we're studying. Students will be required to do one objective examination, write critical papers, and contribute to the class in various ways. There will also be ample allowance for students to engage in creative writing and/or creative projects as an option to replace a critical paper.

HIST 1110 Medieval History 1
Prof. Bruce Venarde

MoWe 3-4:15 / Class # 28866 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional and Historical Change

“A great many things keep happening, some of them good, some of them bad.” So Gregory of Tours, a bishop in western France, began his history of the world more than 1,400 years ago. This course will consider change in Mediterranean and European society from the late Roman Empire to ca. 1000 AD, sometimes called “the Dark Ages,” and ask you to come to your own understanding of how to describe the long pre-history of Europe’s eventual domination of much of the globe. Was the early medieval period an end or a beginning? An era of perpetual crisis or creative experimentation? Good or bad? Topics will include politics, religion, gender, material culture, living conditions, economic production and exchange, art, and literature, with attention to continuities with the Roman past as well as divergences from it. We will read and ponder things written down at the time (and painted, sculpted, or built), which will sometimes be relatively straightforward and at others rather strange -- and even, like Gregory of Tours’s opening line, at least a little comical. The format is lecture-discussion, with emphasis on exchange of observations and ideas about how people understood themselves and the world around them and how we might understand them from our own perspective as the distant heirs of early medieval people. Evaluation will be based on participation in discussions and four short papers.

HIST 1190 Medieval Government and Society
Prof. Janelle Greenberg

TuTh 1-2:15 / Class # 21007 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional and Historical Change

In this class we study the origins of constitutionalism in the Western world, in particular, due process, limited government, the rule of law, representative institutions, and individual rights. As unlikely as it sounds, we will find these origins, along with the basic tenets of the modern democratic polity, in the decidedly undemocratic Middle Ages. Our story begins with the emergence of the three bodies of law upon which the Western legal tradition was built, namely, Roman law, canon law, and English common law. The narrative includes forays into cultural history, for example, the emergence of universities where Roman law and canon law were taught and studied; political history, such as the emergence of the medieval “state,” the quarrels between popes and kings and kings and their nobility; and finally intellectual history, in particular, the political and legal ideas that constitute “the mental furniture of the mind,” those notions of justice, law, and reason that were axiomatic and against which sovereigns and subjects were measured. Readings will include excerpts from law codes, the writings of theorists such as Thomas Aquinas, and works such as Magna Carta. Our work will go forward on the basis of discussions and lectures. Much class time will be spent in small groups, where students are divided up and assigned a particular primary source to dissect and present to the class. In this way we will constitute a community of scholars who work together in a common intellectual endeavor, one that introduces us to some of the most significant texts in the history of Western constitutionalism. There are no course requirements for Medieval Law and Government.

HPS 0620 Science and Religion
Prof. Jason Rampelt

TuTh 1-1:50 / Class # 29104

This course will introduce you to the vast and variegated ways in which the natural sciences and Christianity have interacted in Western history. As an honors course, you will not only become versed in the main landmarks and debates within this history, but also gain proficiency in interpreting the primary source texts which scholars use to write it. This will include an introduction to using archival material, weekly recitations with the professor where readings are closely examined, and practice in guided writing assignments. Our subject will begin with an examination of the relations between religion and natural philosophy in the ancient world, broadening the question to one of worldviews at large. From there, we will follow the particularly Christian side of this question as it was considered in the medieval church. Special attention will be given to the early-modern period when natural philosophy began to take on many of the features we associate with the natural sciences today. This longer view provides a more balanced background for assessing some of the more controversial issues which are typically connected with ‘Science and Religion’, namely, Natural Theology, Darwinism, and Cosmology. We will consider these topics both in their historic forms in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and as those concepts have been modified and re-presented in their most recent forms. Regular attention will be given to rising news items relevant to our topics. One hour recitation per week is required.

HAA 0070 European Visual Tradition Renasnc-Pres
Prof. Christopher Nygren

TuTh 2:30-3:45 / Class # 28789 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for The Arts

This class will introduce you to art produced in Europe during the captivating period when the middle ages transformed into the Renaissance, and the Renaissance gave birth to modernity. We will cover the period from about 1200 – 1800, during which Europe occupied a unique position of power and wealth. We will consider some of the reasons that, toward the end of this period, “art” production began to expand beyond Europe. We will focus on many of the masterpieces of Western art, like Versailles and the Sistine Chapel. Beyond considering their aesthetic beauty, we will also think critically about how artworks functioned within their social context as devotional object, sites of commemoration, or modes of producing social identity. This is a foundation course in art history, so it is not expected that you will have prior knowledge of the art or history under consideration.

HAA 0220 The Medieval Book
Prof. Shirin Asgharzadeh-Fozi Jones

TuTh 9:30-10:45 / Class #28792

This course explores the history of medieval manuscripts, from the development of the codex in Late Antiquity to the rise of printing in the fifteenth century. We will focus on illuminated examples made for wealthy patrons and institutions, and on the ways in which images and texts were designed together to craft new intellectual and spiritual experiences for the book lovers of the Middle Ages. Class meetings, assignments, and exams will make extensive use of the library’s Special Collections, which has an outstanding collection of high-quality facsimiles that will allow us to examine these priceless manuscripts in close detail.

HAA 0302 Renaissance Art
Prof. Christopher Nygren

TuTh 11-12:15 / Class #28793 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional, The Arts and 2nd Lit/Arts/Creative Expression

This course will investigate the works of some famous and not-so famous artist working in Italy between about 1400 and 1550. We will investigate cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice and examine how different communities employed images for the expression of identity, status, and as a strategic means of producing consensus or exploiting social division. We will consider the role that images occupied in political and religious culture as well as in private life, bearing in mind the competing interests of those who commissioned works of art and those who encountered them as beholders. From this multiplicity of uses and responses emerged highly varied conceptions of the nature of images and the role of the artist. The artists we will study include: the original Ninja Turtles (Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello), Botticelli, Titian and Brunelleschi, among many others.

PHIL 0473 Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Brock Bahler

MoWe 3-4:15 / Class #29222

Description available from instructor at a later time.

PHIL 1040 Aristotle
Prof. Kristen Inglis

TuTh 1-2:15 / Class #21970 / Prereq: Any other philosophy course

In this course we shall analyze and critically discuss the ethics and moral psychology of Aristotle. Topics covered will include his conception of happiness; his account of the virtues of character and the intellectual virtues; the choiceworthiness of external goods like friendship; and the controversy about whether Aristotle’s exhortation of the philosophical life coheres with the importance he seems to give to the virtues of character.

PHIL 1310 History of Ethics
Prof. Michael Thompson

MoWe 6-7:15 / Class #29073 / Prereq: Any other philosophy course

This course will examine of some of the principal moral philosophers in one or more of the major historical periods from Homeric times to the present day—such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Mill, and Rawls.

Religious Studies

Many RELGST courses may be of interest to students pursuing Christian Studies. Representative courses are highlighted here; for a complete list of offerings, see the Dietrich School course guide.

RELGST 0105 Religions of the West
Prof. Timothy Langille

MoWe 4:30-5:45 / Class #  2145 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Int'l/Foreign Cultures: Comparative

This course is a historical introduction to the religious traditions that developed in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean. Our major emphasis is on the history of the religious traditions that emerged in late antiquity in this area and which continue to be major world religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism. We focus on key concepts, historical developments, and contemporary issues. Throughout the course, we also examine interactions among these religious traditions. In the last part of the course we examine the issue of globalization and the spread of these religions around the world as well as the presence of "non-Western" religion in the "West." The course also serves as an introduction to the academic study of religion and provides a foundation for further coursework in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. No prior knowledge of any of the religions studied is expected or assumed.

RELGST 1135 Orthodox Christianity
Prof. Joel Brady

We 6-8:30 PM / Class # 17687 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Int'l Foreign Culture Non-Western

This course is designed as an overview of the history, teachings and rituals of the Orthodox Church in its multinational context. Geographically, Eastern Orthodox Christianity primarily includes Russia, south-eastern Europe and the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean, but there is also a large Orthodox diaspora in the western hemisphere. Understanding Orthodox Christianity -- its specific historical experience (from Byzantine and Ottoman empires to the life under communism, and beyond), its theological doctrines and spiritual practices, its rich artistic, musical and ritual expressions -- has become increasingly relevant in the post-communist era with the emergence of religion as an important aspect of cultural identity and national self-definition. Through lectures, discussions, oral presentations and visits to local Orthodox churches, students will gain an insight into the multifaceted world of Orthodox Christianity.

RELGST 0415 Religion in Modern America
Prof. Paula Kane

Tu/Th 11-12:15 / Class # 24592 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Historical Change

The course examines the impact of religion as a moral, intellectual, and institutional force in America from 1865 to the present. We seek to understand how religions have both shaped and reflected economic, social, and cultural conditions in the United States. The course format combines lecture with student discussion of religious conflicts and critical moments of cultural change. Documentary films, slides, and local sites are also used. Major emphases include religious responses to intellectual, scientific, and economic change, including Biblical criticism, evolutionary theory, immigration, urbanization, industrialization, Marxism, fascism, racism, feminism, and globalization.

RELGST 1100 Israel in the Biblical Age
Prof. Timothy Langille

TuTh 11:00-12:15 / Class # 24657 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional

This course covers the history and development of Biblical Israel from its ancient Near Eastern origins up through the advent of Hellenism, a period roughly covering the entire first millennium BCE. Students read both biblical and extra-biblical materials in order to assess their value as historical sources.

RELGST 1425 Varieties of Early Christianity
Prof. Rebecca Denova

TuTh 6-8:30 PM / Class # 27917 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional and Historical Change

Through early Christian literature (such as non–canonical gospels and the writings of the Church Fathers) and various types of archaeological evidence, this course will examine the many different and often competing forms of Christianity that developed in the first four centuries of the common era. Among the areas of examination will be key theological issues, creedal formulation, Gnosticism, martyrdom, asceticism, Christian relations with pagans and Jews, and the battles over orthodoxy and heresy. We shall also assess the conversion of Constantine and the social and political implications of the Christianization of the Roman Empire.

RELGST 1220 Jews and Judaism in the Medieval World
Prof. Adam Shear

MoWe 3-4:15 / Class # 28683 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Historical Change

This course surveys the Jewish historical experience from the 7th through the 18th centuries. Political, social, economic, cultural, and religious dimensions of a variety of Jewish communities are explored within the contexts of the larger societies in which the Jewish minority lived. Through study of primary texts in translation and secondary sources, we explore the different dimensions of medieval and early modern Judaism: rabbinic literature, Jewish philosophy, mysticism, biblical commentary, folklore and popular religion. We also discuss periodization: how should the "medieval" period of Jewish history be defined?

RELGST 1220 Catholicism in the New World
Prof. Paula Kane

TuTh 2-2:15 / Class # 20259

The course will examine the history of the roman catholic church since 1492 in the americas using various moments of internal crisis or external conflict as focal points for study. topics will include: missionary and military contact with new world indigenous populations after 1492; the minority situation of catholics in the new united states; the irish famine and its consequences; conflicts between catholic ethnics; counter cultural forms of catholicism (conscientious objectors, civil rights activists, pacifists); vatican ii and its impact; liberation theology, marxism and structural reform in latin america; changing theological positions on social and moral issues; the recent sexual abuse crisis. while the emphasis will rest upon the social, economic, and political dimensions of catholic history, the course will also address the aesthetic and cultural heritage of catholicism including sacred architecture, music, and the arts, in elite and folk varieties.

RELGST 1220 Mysticism: East and East
Prof. Milica Hayden

TuTh 9:30-10:45 / Class # 12007 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Int'l/Foreign Culture: Comparative

Mysticism, understood as a living experience of theological doctrines, constitutes an unexpected point of convergence between such different religious traditions as Hinduism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In this course we look into how this spiritual kinship is forged from distinct practices in India and in the traditions of eastern Christianity, by examining the selected mystical writings of both religious traditions. The course will be structured around three central themes: 1) God as Mystery: negative theology (Hindu and Orthodox ways of unknowing the divine). 2) God as Person: the Hindu notion of avatar and Orthodox understanding of incarnation, and 3) God as Prayer: two selected methods of contemplation (Hindu yoga and Orthodox hesychast prayer). The course is based largely on reading and discussion of primary sources (in English translation) supplemented with selected secondary sources to help enhance students' understanding of the comparative method, on the one hand, and symbolic, often enigmatic and sometimes "upside-down" language of the mystical texts, on the other.

RELIGST 0305 Classics of Christian Thought               
Prof. Brock Bahler

TuTh 9:30-10:45 / Course # 28512              

This course will examine selections or full texts of several of the most important works of Christian thought.  Beginning with the New Testament, we will work our way through church history and consider material by seminal figures such as Augustine, Aquinas, Theresa of Avila, Luther, Calvin, Kant, Kierkegaard, and others.  Our discussions cover such topics as justice and righteousness, conversion, reason and revelation, Jesus, the existence of God, analogy and metaphor, sin, grace, free will, faith, love, compassion and predestination.  Along the way we will also discuss the continued influence of each figure among recent and contemporary scholars.                  

RELGST 0715 Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Brock Bahler

TuTh 1:00-2:15 / Course # 16939 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Philosophy

Are there good reasons for thinking that God exists?  Are there good reasons for thinking that he doesn't? In this course we will examine the chief arguments for and against the existence of God, as well as other topics central to philosophy of religion: the nature of religious language, the relation of faith to reasoned the use of religious experience as evidence.  Members of the class will develop a working knowledge of the issues by reading and discussing traditional and contemporary authors. Lectures will be used to initiate and focus discussions.


Duquesne University

Because Duquesne is a Catholic university, it has extensive offerings in Christian Studies. We have listed here courses that may be of special interest to students at other universities, and for which detailed descriptions are available. For a complete list of courses offered, consult the course schedule on the registrar's Web site. Duquesne does not compile course descriptions, so if a title intrigues you, e-mail the professor and ask for more info. They'll be happy to help.

PHIL 471W Ricoeur: Symbolism of Evil
Prof. Keyes

We 12:15-2:55

This phenomenological study analyzes four ways of symbolizing evil and redemption: Babylonian, Greek Tragic, Biblical and Orphic.  It examines rituals, myths and theories that express this symbolism in religious experience, poetry, theology and philosophy.  The course asks whether we can reconcile the belief in God with the problem of evil.

THEO 202-01 Christianity and Violence
Prof. Vasko

TuTh 1:40-2:55

The course examines the research, writings, and experiences of women and men in the Christian tradition. Particular attention will be paid to religious justifications for violence and discrimination; and the role that theology and faith communities have played in both condoning and resisting such violence in the US. As such, the material for this course sits at the intersection of theology and ethics. One of the primary intellectual challenges of this course is for students to develop an understanding that violence is often culturally constructed, condoned, and sometimes even supported. A good portion of our efforts in the class will be placed on untangling the ways in which race, class, gender, and imperialism work together to perpetrate violence against marginalized persons and communities. Such an investigation necessitates a careful consideration of the dynamics of power and privilege operative in society, which is accompanied by a critical awareness of our own place within the existing racial, economic, gender, and ethnic hierarchy in the United States.

THEO 204-01 App. to Black & African Theology
Prof. Uzukwu

TuTh 1:40-2:55

This is an introductory course to theology from African and African American perspectives. Students are opened not only to Roman Catholic theological traditions but also to the diversity of Christian approaches in theology within which Black, African, and Third World theologies are located. In engaging African and Black theological literature and methods, students are led to appreciate how African and Black history and tradition influence theology.  The course assumes that theology is both an ecclesial and academic discipline; considers theological thinking as reasoned reflection and articulation of the ultimate and absolute meaning of human existence; identifies theological foundations with critical personal self-appropriation of one’s own intellectual operations, moral and religious experience; and, emphasizes emic as well as critical approaches to the analysis and evaluation of African and Black theologies.

THEO 220-01 Jesus the Christ

TuTh 12:15-1:30

An introduction to the study of Jesus as Christ; Jewish context, Christian understanding, cultural impact.  The insights of the New Testament, various works of art, and the early church councils will receive special attention, as well as representative interpretations among the theologians.

THEO 251-01 Sexuality, Sex and Morality
Prof. Weaver

TuTh 9:25-10:40

This course considers a wide range of sexual practices and social issues related to human sexuality, such as marriage, cohabitation, same-sex relationships, reproductive technologies, hook-up culture, sexting, and pornography use.  We will draw upon a variety of sources including religious ethics, anthropology and cultural commentary.

THEO 301-01 Marriage
Prof. Worgul

TuTh 10:50-12:05

Our course will examine Marriage, Family and relationships in our contemporary context from a            sociological and religious perspectives.  It will engage the debates surrounding, cohabitation, divorce, and same sex marriage.

THEO 315-01 Prophetic Lit of the Old Testament
Prof. Bucur, B.

TuTh 1:40-2:55

This course introduces students to the main figures, texts, and themes associated with prophecy in biblical Israel.  We will examine the religious, social, and political context of prophecy, familiarize ourselves with some of its most significant figures and texts, and discuss the reception of prophetic literature in Second Temple apocalyptic literature, in early Judaism, and Christianity.


Carnegie Mellon University

ENGL 76221 Books You Should Have Read By Now
Prof. Alan Kennedy

TuTh 9:00-10:20

It may seem more and more difficult to get a good classical, liberal education these days. The demands of professional training force many of us to skimp on our understanding of major artistic achievements. So, this class is for those people who should have read some of the best books around, but haven't managed to yet - books you should have read by now. Kurt Vonnegut's character Kilgore Trout sings the praises of Dostoevski's The Brothers Karamazov, (and the same thing might be said about Crime and Punishment) pointing out that it contains everything you need to know about life. He then ruefully adds that unfortunately that's not enough anymore. It may not be enough, but it might be a place to start. Each book will be considered in itself for whatever it might offer by way of understanding the world, the past, the present, ourselves and others. Finally we shall use the idea that literature is equipment for living as a way of understanding and evaluating our experiences. Or: what use is it to have read some of the so-called "great books" of the Western canon? A recurrent interest will be in improving our language ability in general as we consider various books of central importance to our cultural traditions.

ENGL 76245 Shakespeare: Tragedies and Histories
Prof. Christopher Warren

MoWe 11:30-12:20  

Fri      11:30-12:20

Fri      11: 30-12:20  Prof. Jamie Smith

Would coming to CMU and not studying Shakespeare seem like going to the Sistine Chapel and not looking up? In 1878, Andrew Carnegie left his growing steel empire to sail around the world. Content to leave his business, he was not content to leave his 13-volume set of Shakespeare's complete works. He later wrote: "I have read carefully eleven of Shakespeare's plays during the spare hours of the voyage...They are such gems. I...feel as if I have made new friends, whose angel visits will do me good in days and nights to come?..everything has its 'environment,' and Shakespeare is the environment of all English-speaking men." Much has changed since Carnegie wrote those words, but many still hunger for an introduction to Shakespeare's Tragedies and Histories like this one. Our reading list will include hauntingly powerful plays such as Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, Henry V, Richard II, 1 Henry IV, and Henry V. Students at the end of the course should expect to have a good grounding in the language, themes, and characters of Shakespearean Tragedies and Histories and perhaps more importantly be equipped to think carefully about Shakespeare's plays in relation to poetics, topical politics, and genre. In addition to regular short writing exercises of varying types, assignments will include one close reading paper, a longer research paper, and performance of a scene.