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About the Major

The Religious Studies Department offers students the opportunity to develop skills in critical and creative thinking, analysis, and research through the study of diverse religious traditions. Our courses explore the texts, objects, spaces, and lived experiences connected with religious traditions and cultures, as well as the art, films, and other forms of cultural expression that represent them.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Examine different approaches to the academic study of religions
  • Analyze diverse sets of evidence including both primary and secondary sources
  • Critically analyze the category of “religion”
  • Communicate clearly, coherently, and effectively

A Sampling of Courses

Gutenberg Press

Religion and Media

Investigates the role of various media in shaping religious traditions especially Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. Beginning with studies of orality and literacy, we move into the impact of the printing press, then electronic media including Internet and video games.

Explore these select courses:

This course explores a variety of roles religion has played in American culture(s) and some of the ways that American culture has influenced Americans’ religious practices. We will focus on three areas: identity (Americanism), politics (Ballots), and economics (Consumption). In particular, we will consider how religion is involved in the construction of American identity and the exclusion of some people from American polity; how religion is (and is not) intertwined with our political system; and how religion affects – and is affected by – Americans’ economic practices

The world of antiquity was populated with spirits and invisible forces, and with attempts to breach the divide between this world and others. What did people hope to accomplish when they wore an amulet, threw sheep knuckles as dice in consulting an oracle, wrote on a curse tablet, or offered votives to a god? This course examines miracles and magic as modes of intervention, focusing on the first through fifth centuries CE. We will discuss the technologies of facilitating such encounter and multiple categories of magical activity through attention to archaeological artifacts and ancient texts.

Taking a broad, inter-disciplinary approach, students become familiar with issues facing contemporary American Indian communities. Confronted with unprecedented political, environmental, and cultural challenges, Indians continue to mobilize ancient values to effectively reimagine and reshape them for the contemporary context. Drawing from historiography, literary analysis, and knowledge of current Indigenous leaders, we examine how relationality, resilience, adaptability, and revitalization are informing Native-led social movements while also reconnecting American Indians to their spiritual foundations in times of turmoil and difficulty. Students will have opportunities to engage in discussions with Native spiritual and cultural leaders and will also present their own research projects.

Exploration of the spiritual power attributed to philosophy by religious philosophers from classical Greece to modern times through readings from Greek, Jewish, Islamic and/or Christian philosophical works.

The word "martyrdom" is a site of live debate about ethics, from religious extremist martyrs to the label "martyr complex." Who is willing to suffer, and for what? Is that willingness justifiable, pathological, or terrorism? Must one die, or is it enough to suffer?. Christians in antiquity also asked these questions in response to persecution under the Roman Empire, as well as in the centuries after. Others in antiquity too considered the difference between suicide and noble, voluntary death. We will analyze the phenomenon of martyrdom in antiquity through a variety of textual attestation.

Meet Our Faculty

Quincy Newell

Chair of Religious Studies, the Walcott-Bartlett Professor of Humanistic Studies

qnewell@hamilton.edu

American religious history; religion in the American West; interreligious contact; religious experience of racial/ethnic and religious minorities; Native American and African American religious history; Mormonism; gender and religion

Wendy Felese

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

wfelese@hamilton.edu

cultural theory, comparative religion, Indigeneity, American Indian cultural traditions, federal Indian law, and environmental justice

Heidi Ravven

Professor of Religious Studies

hravven@hamilton.edu

Baruch Spinoza, Moses Maimonides, neuroethics, and Jewish studies

S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate

Professor of Religious Studies, By Special Appointment

splate@hamilton.edu

religion and media, religion and popular culture, comparative religions, blasphemy and controversial art, religious life in the U.S.

Explore Hamilton Stories

Heidi Ravven

Ravven on Voting as “Science and Ceremony”

Professor of Religious Studies Heidi Ravven recently discussed “Science and Ceremony” in an invited lecture at the European Society for Medicine Annual Congress in Vienna.

Sarah Griffis

Griffis Publishes Religious Studies Project Article

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Sarah Griffis recently published an article online for The Religious Studies Project, an international collaborative enterprise that produces podcasts and resources on the social-scientific study of religion.

Yenesis Alvarez '22

Alvarez ’22 Honing Career Skills in Dartmouth Bridge Program

For many Hamilton students, a trip to the Howard Diner delivers little more than a late-night meal. But for Yenesis Alvarez ’22, it provided an unexpected academic opportunity.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in religious studies are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
  • Brand Coordinator, Legendary Entertainment
  • Upper School Dean of Students, American School of Madrid
  • Rabbinical Student, Hebrew Union College
  • Director of Development, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
  • Gerontologist, Gateway Adult Center
  • Director of Youth & Education Justice, Children’s Defense Fund-NY
  • Clinical Social Worker, Morris Foundation

Contact

Department Name

Religious Studies Department

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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