Fall 2024

DESR students are required to take three courses. Two of these comprise the core curriculum, and one is an elective selected from a list of courses offered by the DESR faculty.


STRELIG 200: Methods in the Study of Religion

Methods in the Study of Religion is an introduction to methodological best practices in the Study of Religion from the perspectives of different fields. It is made up of multiple modules that combine the study of primary sources with exemplary methodological approaches. These approaches include but are not limited to: anthropological theories of religion and society, historical genealogies of categories of religion and the secular, theology and Church history, sociological approaches to issues like religious organization and conflict, religion and science, religious literature and Biblical hermeneutics, as well as particular religious histories.

STRELIG 201: Histories of the Study of Religion

Histories of the Study of Religion is an introduction to the history and development of the field of “Religious Studies” as an intellectual space for the study of a sometimes historicized, sometimes naturalized phenomenon called “religion.” Since the narration of any history of the study of religion serves to circumscribe a particular set of phenomena as “religious,” this course does not isolate a canonical history of the field. Instead, it progresses in a roughly diachronic manner, through a number of thematic threads representing the development of different domains of the study of religion.


Additionally, students must complete one elective course from a list of pre-approved graduate courses on religion. In some instances, students may petition for other, relevant courses to be counted towards their elective requirement. If a course is offered for variable units, students must enroll at the maximum possible unit value. Potential elective courses will vary depending on faculty teaching plans in a given semester.

FALL 2024

Core Courses

Mysticism and Modernity (STRELIG 200 / CompLit 258 / Ger 205)

Niklaus Largier
Tuesdays, 2 pm – 5 pm, 282 Dwinelle Hall
Class #: 31369 / 31189

So-called ‘mystical’ forms of thought and experience have played a major role in the history of modern philosophy and literature from Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Schopenhauer to Lukàcs, Heidegger, Bataille, Benjamin, Derrida, and Fred Moten; and from Novalis to Musil, Kafka, Celan, Bachmann, Klossowski, and Cage (to name just a few). In this seminar we will read and discuss key texts written by some significant medieval figures in this tradition. We will focus on forms and styles of writing; problems of negative and affirmative theology; and configurations of speculative, affective, and sensual moments. During a second phase of the seminar we will turn our attention to baroque mysticism (Angelus Silesius and Jacob Böhme). Based on the class discussion and on individual student interests, we will then explore the ways how these texts have been read by 19th and 20th century authors and how they allow us to think about the formation and transformation of modern concepts of the sacred, subjectivity, affect, critique, and agency. Depending on student interests, we will decide on a final version of the syllabus at the first meeting of class. All texts will be available in original languages and in English translation.

Elective Courses

Arabic Logic (MELC 298)

Asad Ahmed
Mondays 11 am – 2 pm, 272 Social Sciences Building
Class # 25106

Seminar in Philological Analysis of Ancient Chinese Texts (Chinese 220)

Mark A Csikszentmihalyi
Wednesdays 11 am – 2 pm, location TBD
Class #32389

Seminars in Social and Cultural Anthropology: Special Topics | History, Tradition and Myth (Anthro 250X)

Charles Kendal Hirschkind
Tuesdays 12 – 2 pm, Anthro/Art Practice Bldg 219
Class # 26455

Seminar in Buddhism and Buddhist Texts (BUDDSTD C220 / SSEASN C220)

Robert H Sharf
Wednesdays 2 – 5 pm, Location TBD
Class #25893

Readings in Indian Buddhist Texts (BUDDSTD C215)

Alexander Von Rospatt
Time and location TBD

Class # 33587

Classical Rhetorical Theory and Practice: Foucault and his Sources (RHETOR 200)

James Porter, Ramona Naddaff

Wednesdays 3 – 6 pm, 7415 Dwinelle
Class # 24966

Foucault’s thought is richest and most generative at the intersection of four themes—subject-formation, truth, freedom, and the political—but nowhere more so than when he is in dialogue with prior thinkers. This seminar will examine Foucault’s evolving conceptions of these themes, from some of his earliest essays on Kant, Rousseau, Bataille, and Blanchot, to later essays (“Truth and Juridical Form,” “What is Critique?”, his interview with Trombadori, Lives of Infamous Men, “Political Spirituality”), and his final lectures on antiquity. Additional readings will be drawn from Bataille (Inner Experience) and Blanchot (The Unavowable Community, Thomas the Obscure) and from Plato, the Greek sophists, the Cynics, early Christian authors, and Kant (“An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?,” Metaphysics of the Groundworks of Morals, sel.), in addition to the new scholarship on Foucault, including by a number of invited seminar guests. Students from all disciplines are welcome.