Special Departmental Requirements
Master of Arts Degree
Doctor of Philosophy Degree
College of Arts and Sciences
Professor Robert Orsi
Stephen J. Stein
Rabindranath Tagore Professor of Indian Cultures and Civilizations
Gerald J. Larson (India Studies)
Richard B. Miller
James Ackerman (Emeritus), James Hart, Robert Orsi, J. Samuel Preus (Emeritus), David Smith, Mary Jo Weaver,
David Brakke,* Robert Campany, David Haberman, John McRae, Jan Nattier, Michael Satlow, Steven Weitzman*
Daniel Conkle (Law), Dyan Elliott (History)
Adjunct Associate Professors
Stephen Bokenkamp (East Asian Languages and Cultures), Jamsheed Choksy (Near Eastern Languages and Cultures), Herbert Marks (Comparative Literature)
Director of Graduate Studies
Professor Jan Nattier, Sycamore Hall 219, (812) 855-3532
Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy
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Special Departmental Requirements
(See also general University Graduate School requirements.)
Graduate Record Examination General Test. In addition, Ph.D. applicants must submit a writing sample. Specific deadlines and expectations are spelled out in the Student Guide, available in the department office.
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Master of Arts Degree
B (3.0) average; B or higher for each course.
A total of 30 credit hours, including R665, at least two other 600-level seminars, and 3 credit hours in each of the three divisions of the M.A. curriculum (religious traditions in the West, religious traditions in the East, critical issues in religious studies). Students choosing to write a thesis will register for 6 credit hours of R699; those opting for the language study project, 6 credit hours of R698. The distribution requirement is satisfied by taking courses in the Department of Religious Studies, or cross-listed courses.
All M.A. students must demonstrate proficiency in one scholarly language. Usually this language is German or French, although another may be chosen if it is relevant to the studentís program.
Thesis/Language Study Project/Examination Option
Students may complete degree requirements in one of three ways: (1) by writing a thesis, (2) by carrying out a language study project, or (3) by passing a comprehensive examination. The thesis option involves six credit hours of research and writing in addition to 24 hours of coursework. A thesis is generally 60-100 pages and focuses on a theme, problem, and/or historical movement in the study of religion. The language study option involves use of a foreign language in which the primary or significant secondary sources of a religious tradition are written (e.g., Hebrew, Greek, Sanskrit, Chinese). The student must (a) demonstrate competence in the language (normally by passing an examination administered by the department) and (b) prepare a scholarly, annotated translation into English of a religious text written in that language, together with an introduction dealing with its historical and cultural context and significance. Students opting for the comprehensive examination may not
take the examination until they have completed 30 credit hours of course work. The examination is in two parts: a) general field examination and (b) area examination in the studentís field of specialization.
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Doctor of Philosophy Degree
(1) Completion of an M.A. degree in the study of religion at Indiana University or another recognized institution, (2) a superior record in religious studies, (3) proficiency in one of the required languages, and (4) review and approval by a field committee consisting of faculty in the studentís major area of interest.
No grades below B (3.0) will be counted toward this degree.
Areas for Doctoral Study
Track 1 (Critical and Ethical Studies) pays particular attention to problems of ethics and social theory as they relate to specific traditions of religious thought and practice. Track II (Cross-Cultural Studies) focuses on one or more religious traditions in one or more geographic and historical settings, building on resources in the history and methods of the comparative study of religion. Track III (Biblical Interpretation) examines Jewish and Christian Bibles and the history of their interpretation, drawing on tools in literary theory and criticism. Track IV (Historical Studies) features inquiry into one religious tradition or the religious history of one geographical/cultural setting. Please note that the four Ph.D. tracks do not correspond to the curriculum divisions listed for M.A. courses.
Doctoral students must earn 90 hours of graduate credit, no more than 30 of which may be transferred from other institutions. The department allows up to 30 hours of M.A. credit toward the doctorate, which means that doctoral students must earn 60 hours of credit beyond the M.A. Up to 30 of the total 90 hours may be designated as thesis hours (R699, R799, G901). Thus, students whose 30 M.A. hours include 6 hours of thesis credit will earn 36 credit hours of course work and 24 hours of thesis at the Ph.D. level.
Course work requirements beyond the M.A. degree include one track seminar (3 credit hours), four 700-level courses (12 credit hours), R790, a 1-credit hour course devoted to the development of teaching skills, and an outside minor (12 credit hours). Students who have not completed their M.A. at Indiana University are normally required to take R665 as well. The remaining credit hours come from enrollment in G901 Advanced Research and R799 Ph.D. Thesis. Doctoral students are also required to produce three research papers prior to taking comprehensive exams. These papers will normally develop out of studentsí 700 level seminars, although they may grow out of other research projects as well. Papers should be modeled on a submission to a refereed journal in the studentís main area of interest and should follow that journalís requirements for length and documentation (e.g., Turabian, MLA). Research papers must be approved for the studentís file by a professor, but students may not secure approval for more than two papers from the same professor. Length is normally 20-25 pages, not counting endnotes. An approved research paper may not be a language translation, a bibliographical essay, a text edition, or a set of field notes. Annotated translations may be accepted with approval of the graduate committee. For details, consult the Director of Graduate Studies.
All candidates will be required to show proficiency in two modern languages of scholarship (French or German) and any necessary primary source languages required by their field. Another modern language may be substituted for French or German with the approval of the director of graduate studies and the studentís advisors. Skill levels for primary source languages will be determined through departmental examinations in cooperation with other departments where appropriate.
ďQualification for (or Admission to) CandidacyĒ means being authorized to embark on a dissertation project by passing the qualifying examinations and having a dissertation proposal approved by a research committee. Exams are set and supervised by the advisory committee after all residency requirements are completed. Normally, they consist of three four-hour written exams plus an oral exam, all taken within a three-week period. Exams are initially taken in toto, but may be retaken once as a whole or in part at the discretion of the committee.
Termination of Enrollment in the Doctoral Program
If a doctoral student fails the written examination two times, fails the oral qualifying examination two times, falls below a 3.0 (B) grade point average, or fails to complete the written and oral examinations by the end of the approved length of time, the director of graduate studies, in consultation with the advisory committee, can initiate steps to terminate the studentís enrollment in the program.
Oral defense of dissertation.
Ph.D. Minor in Religious Studies
Students electing the study of religion as an outside minor in a doctoral program will be required to complete 12 credit hours of course work. A maximum of 6 credit hours may be transferred from other institutions or taken from cross-listed courses. At least 6 credit hours are to be taken in the department.
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500 level courses are attached to upper-level undergraduate courses. 600 and 700 level courses are graduate seminars and usually require instructorís permission to enroll. 700 level courses are normally reserved for doctoral students.
A. Required and Track Seminars
R661 Religion and Social Criticism (3 cr.) Track I Seminar. Religion and social practices, with emphasis on religion and rationality, religion and culture, and religion and the self.
R662 Cross-Cultural Study of Religions (3 cr.) Track II seminar. Historical survey of the development of cross-cultural studies of religious traditions and analysis of the intellectual issues entailed in such studies.
R663 History of Biblical Interpretation (3 cr.) Track III seminar. Chronological introduction to the most influential works of biblical interpretation, from antiquity to the present. Readings in Jewish, Christian, and esoteric sources will include both commentary and hermeneutic theory.
R664 Religious Historiography (3 cr.) Track IV seminar. Survey of significant approaches to the history of religious traditions.
R665 Interpretations of Religion (3 cr.) Major theories and current problems. Required of all departmental graduate students.
R761 Religion and Social Criticism (3 cr.) Meets concurrently with R661, with additional reading and research assignments.
R762 Cross-Cultural Study of Religion (3 cr.) Meets concurrently with R662, with additional reading and research assignments.
R763 History of Biblical Interpretation (3 cr.) Meets concurrently with R663, with additional reading and research assignments.
R764 Religious Historiography (3 cr.) Meets concurrently with R664, with additional reading and research assignments.
B. Religious Traditions in the West
R511 Religion of Ancient Israel (3 cr.) Survey of scholarship related to specific subfield of ancient Israelite religion. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R521 Studies in Early Christianity (3 cr.) Study of the New Testament, early Christian history and thought, or the religious milieu of late antiquity, with special attention to issues of methodology and critical scholarship. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R531 Studies in Christian History (3 cr.) Study of primary and secondary sources in select eras of Western Christian history, such as the medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, and early modern periods. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R532 Studies of Religion in American Culture (3 cr.) Study of selected topics in the history of religious life and thought in America. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R533 Selected Topics in Modern Christian Thought (3 cr.) Topics on figures and movements: Barth, Berdyaev, Newman, Teilhard de Chardin, Niebuhr, and Tillich; Catholic modernism, Protestant liberalism and neoorthodoxy, Vatican Council II and its aftermath, developments in Eastern Orthodoxy. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R541 Studies in the Jewish Tradition (3 cr.) Study of various aspects of medieval and modern Jewish literature, religion, and thought. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R553 Studies in Islam (3 cr.) Selected topics in the history of Muslim society and institutions, sectarian developments, law, theology, mysticism, popular piety, and reform movements in medieval and modern contexts. May be repeated when topics vary.
R610 Studies in Biblical Literature and Religion (3 cr.) Issues in the literature, history, and religion of ancient Israel from its origins to the rise of rabbinic Judaism and Christianity. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R615 The Bible in Literature Courses (3 cr.) The historical-cultural background of the biblical period, literary analysis of the Bible, and analysis of modern literature dependent on the Bible. Designed for teachers of English.
R620 Ancient and Medieval Christianity (3 cr.) Issues in the history and literature of early Christianity from its origins through the early medieval period. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R630 Historical Studies (3 cr.) Development of Western religions in their cultural setting. May be repeated once for credit when topics vary.
R635 Colloquium on North American Religious History (3 cr.) Examination and discussion of selected historiography in the field of North American religious history. May be repeated once for credit when topics vary.
R644 History and Culture in Islam (3 cr.) Selected topics focusing on critical approaches to Islamic historiography, canon formation, modes of religious authority, scriptural and other forms of textual interpretation, epistemology, and theological discourse. May be repeated once for credit when topics vary.
R652 Colloquium on Religion in the West (3-9 cr.) P: consent of instructor. Readings and research on patterns of religious life and thought in the West: continuities, changes, and contemporary issues. May be repeated once for credit when topics vary.
C. Religious Traditions in the East
R547 Meditation Traditions of India (3 cr.) Survey and analysis of the practice of meditation in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions of India. Focus on the philosophical and structural basis of meditation and the relation of meditation to the monastic traditions of India. The role of the holy person and importance of the guru-student relationship.
R551 Religions of South Asia (3 cr.) Study of the major religious traditions of India: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R552 Studies in Buddhism (3 cr.) Topics include the history of Buddhist thought, practice, literature, and institutions. Areas covered regularly include the Prajnaparamita and Ratnakuta literature, lay and monastic roles in Mahayana Buddhism, images of women in Buddhist literature, and aspects of early Buddhist thought. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R554 Religions of East Asia (3 cr.) Study of historical, interpretive, or philosophical issues in one period, genre, or aspect of an East Asian religion. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R649 Issues in the Study of Chinese Religions (3 cr.) Introduction to bibliographic materials, research problems, history of the field, and current issues. Includes a condensed overview of Chinese religious history from the earliest records to the present.
R650 The Hindu Tradition (3 cr.) Selected topics in Hindu religious history: sects, institutions, texts, doctrines, periods. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R651 South Asian Buddhism (3 cr.) Selected topics in South and Southeast Asian Buddhism from the earliest to the modern period. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R653 The Confucian Tradition (3 cr.) Selected topics in Confucianism: history, philosophy, literature, authors. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R654 The Taoist Tradition (3 cr.) Selected topics in the Taoist tradition. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R655 East Asian Buddhism (3-9 cr.) Selected topics in the Buddhist traditions of East Asian countries. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R656 Buddhism in Central Asia (3 cr.) P: graduate-level background in Buddhism or Central Asian studies or consent of instructor. Issues in the history of Buddhism in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Xinjiang) from King Ashoka (third century B.C.E.) to the coming of the Mongols (thirteenth century C.E.). May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R657 Religion in Japan (3 cr.) Selected topics in Japanese religious history. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R658 Materials and Methods in Buddhist Studies (3 cr.) Introduction to bibliographic materials, research methods, and current issues in the field of Buddhist studies. Includes a condensed overview of the history of Buddhism from its origins to the present.
R659 Religion and Society in Asia (3 cr.) Selected topics in the interaction between religion and society in Asian countries. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R749 Issues in the Study of Chinese Religions (3 cr.) Meets concurrently with R649. In addition, student will carry out research on appropriate Chinese materials in consultation with instructor.
R750 Advanced Readings in Asian Religious Texts (1-4 cr.) Readings in primary-language Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian, Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, or other texts. May take the form of a seminar or of individually directed readings. May be repeated for credit when different texts are read and with consent of instructor.
D. Critical Issues in Religious Studies
R561 Social-Scientific Approaches to Religion (3 cr.) Study of various social-scientific disciplines (psychology, sociology, anthropology) as their methods and theories inform our understanding of religious phenomena. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R563 Religion in Literature (3 cr.) Study of religious issues raised in literary works. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R571 Studies in Religious Ethics (3 cr.) Selected readings in religious thought and morality. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R581 Philosophical Approaches to Religion (3 cr.) Study of selected philosophers, philosophical movements, or philosophical themes as they relate to religious studies or theology. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R604 Seminar in Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion (3 cr.) Critical analysis of issues in the philosophy of religion in comparative perspective. The manner in which philosophical issues are framed in Indian, European, Chinese-Japanese, and Middle Eastern thought. Attention to the critique of Orientalism and critical theory in recent comparative philosophy.
R670 History of Religious Ethics (3 cr.) Readings of major ethical texts in key periods. Topics vary according to major religious traditions. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R672 Religious Thought and Ethics (3 cr.) Key figures, issues, and movements. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R673 Religion and Violence (3 cr.) Topics course on the relation between religious belief and practice and violence. Readings draw from ethics, history, and social theory. Topics include peace traditions; just-war tradition; religious sacrifice; and cultural order. May be repeated with consent of instructor.
R674 Ethics and Ethos (3 cr.) Exploration of the relation between ethics and ethos, that is, between human agency and the social, political, and religious conditions in which that agency is exercised. Introduction to currents in moral theory presupposed in subsequent ethics courses.
R675 Feminist Perspectives on Religious Traditions (3 cr.) Topics course which includes a focus on one or more of the following: goddess traditions; Western or Eastern feminist theology; comparative feminist theology; feminist encounters with American religions; recovering womenís contributions to Eastern or Western religions. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor.
R680 Religion and the Problems of Modernity (3 cr.) Topics course on problems posed to religion by recent developments, e.g., disbelief, pluralism, secularization, technology, rapid socioeconomic and political change, class conflict, historical consciousness. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
E. Other Seminars, Readings, and Research
R590 Directed Readings in Religious Studies (1-6 cr.)
R600 Methods in Religious Studies (3 cr.) Seminar in methodology, e.g., historiography, interpretation theory, ethnography in the study of religion. May be repeated when topics vary.
R601 Historical Interactions of Religion (3 cr.) Study of secondary and primary literature (in translation) on interaction between two or more religious cultures. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R602 Cross-Cultural Topics (3 cr.) Study of selected myths, rituals, institutions, or doctrines, in different cultural settings. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R603 Seminar in Comparative Mysticism (3 cr.) Critical and comparative analysis of selected mystical traditions from India, Europe, China-Japan, and the Middle East. Typologies of mysticism will be studied together with an attempt to formulate a critical definition of ďmysticism.Ē
R638 Religious Dissent (3 cr.) Selected topics in the study of dissenting religious traditions. May be repeated once for credit when topics vary.
R660 Religion and Culture (3 cr.) Religious dimensions of cultural phenomena. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R698 Masterís Research Project (3-6 cr.)* Study of religious texts.
R699 Thesis (M.A.) (1-6 cr.)*
F. Additional Doctoral Courses
R711 Religion and Scripture (3 cr.) Selected topics on the nature, function, and interpretation of scripture, both oral and written, within specific religious traditions or in cross-cultural perspective. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R713 Historical Studies in Western Religions (3 cr.) Selected topics in the histories of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam in the ancient and medieval periods, with study of primary sources in the original language(s). May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R735 North American Religions (3 cr.) Research on selected topics. May be repeated once for credit when topic changes.
R738 Modern Religious History (3 cr.) An investigation of developments in religion in the modern period (mid-seventeenth century to the present) in a variety of religious and cultural settings. Topics include Catholicism and modernity; modern Protestant Christianity; religious development in China, India, or Japan in the postcolonial period. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R744 Women and Religion (3 cr.) Research seminar on selected topics from ancient, medieval, or modern period in any religious traditions, or in comparative religious traditions. May be repeated once for credit when topic changes.
R770 Social Ethics (3 cr.) Research seminar on selected topics, including subtraditions in religion, historical developments in a religious tradition, comparative religious ethics, medical ethics. May be repeated with consent of instructor.
R780 Topics in Religious Philosophy (3 cr.) A focus on selected authors, e.g., Plotinus, Augustine, Husserl, Patanjali, Shankara, Chu Hsi, and/or philosophical movements, e.g., German idealism, existentialism, phenomenology, yoga, Madhyamika Buddhism, Vedanta, that are formative for religious or theological thought. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R790 Departmental Teaching Practicum (1 cr.) Preparation of syllabus, bibliography, assignments, and exams for undergraduate religion courses.
R791 Advanced Critical and Ethical Study (1-3 cr.) Individually directed reading and research for doctoral students in critical and ethical problems in religion. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R792 Advanced Cross-Cultural Study (1-3 cr.) Individually directed reading and research for doctoral students in cross-cultural study of religions. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R793 Advanced Biblical Study (1-3 cr.) Individually directed reading and research for doctoral students in biblical interpretation. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R794 Advanced Historical Study (1-3 cr.) Individually directed reading and research for doctoral students in historical study of religious traditions. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
R799 Ph.D. Thesis (1-30 cr.)
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