This course introduces students to the academic study of religion by focusing on four major areas of inquiry: myth; religious authority; purity and sacred space; and ritual practices. We will draw on diverse source material, including Indian, Muslim, Greek, Chinese, and Christian traditions but maintain a focus on the appropriation and re-interpretation of these traditions in the modern, secular west. Sub-topics will include popular notions of “cults,” magic, and illegitimate religion; race, ethnicity, and gender; religious fundamentalism and violence; and debates about religion and science in the 20th and 21st centuries. Another goal will be to familiarize students with major theories of religion, including the work of E. B. Tylor, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Clifford Geertz, and Bruce Lincoln as well as contemporary Cognitive Science research. SAS Core Code:  21C, AHo.