The Department

Chairperson: Ron L. Grimes
Graduate Officer: Michel Desjardins

The MA in religion and culture concentrates on the interdisciplinary study of religion in its cultural and historical contexts. Students are trained in both textual and fieldwork methods, as well as in writing and speaking skills that further the public understanding of religion. In addition to core faculty from Religion and Culture, the program draws upon cognate faculty from the university.

Faculty/Research Interests
Desjardins, Michel, BA (Alberta), MA (British Columbia), PhD (Toronto). Early Christianity, Gnosticism, method and theory in the study of religion.
Duncan, Carol B., BA (Toronto), MA, PhD (York). Sociology of religion, cultural studies, African-Caribbean religions.
Erb, Peter C., BA (WLU), MSL, PhD (Toronto). Historical theology, spirituality, Catholic theology.
Grimes, Ron L., BA (Kentucky Wesleyan), MDiv (Emory), PhD (Columbia and UTS), DHL (Kentucky Wesleyan). Religion and the arts, ritual studies.
Koppedrayer, K. I., BA (McGill), MA, PhD (McMaster). Asian traditions in the West.
McLellan, Janet, BA, MA, PhD (York). Religion and multiculturalism, Buddhist immigrants and refugees in Canada.
Ross, Christopher F. J., BA (Durham), MSc (Edinburgh), PhD (Calgary). Psychology of religion.
Shapiro, Faydra, BA, MA (Carleton), PhD (McMaster). Jewish communities in North America and Israel, anthropology and sociology of religion.

Cognate Faculty
Campbell, Neil, BA (Toronto), MA, PhD (McMaster). Philosophy of mind, mental causation, medical ethics and metaphysics.
Christie, T. Laird, BA, MA, PhD (Toronto). Indigenous religions in Canada.
Cole Arnal, Oscar L., AB (Thiel), BD (Luth. Theo. Sem., Phil.), ThM (Pitts. Theo. Sem.), MA, PhD (Pittsburgh). Church history.
Cristi, F. Renato, BA (Catholic, Chile), PhilM, PhD (Toronto). Greek philosophy, metaphysics, political philosophy, Hegel, Schmitt.
Crossman, Richard C., AB (Wittenberg), BD (Hamma), MA, PhD (Chicago). Social ethics, systematic theology.
Dille, Sarah J., BA (St. Olaf), MDiv, MTh (Luther Northwestern), PhD (Emory). Hebrew Bible, prophets.
Groarke, Leo A., BA, MA (Calgary), PhD (Western). Applied ethics, ancient philosophy, history of ideas, argumentation theory, social philosophy.
Guenther, Mathias G., BA, MA, PhD (Toronto). Religion in Africa, trance and altered states of consciousness.
Hegedus, Timothy M. J., BA (Victoria), MDiv (LTS Saskatoon), MA (WLU), PhD (Toronto). New Testament and early Christianity.
Jacobsen, Rockney A., BA (Wyoming), MA, PhD (Alberta). Philosophy of mind and language, Wittgenstein, Pragmatism, theoretical ethics.
Kelly, Robert A., BA (Pepperdine), MDiv (Concordia Theo. Sem.), PhD (Fuller Theo. Sem.). Systematic theology.
Litke, Robert F., BA (WLU), PhD (Michigan). Conceptions of the Self, domination and power, violence.
Lyons, Andrew P., BA, MA, DPhil (Oxford). History of social thought, anthropology of religion.
Weir, Allison, BA (Toronto), MA, PhD (York). Feminist theory, critical theory, social and political philosophy, theories of individual and collective identity.

Adjunct Faculty
Bryant, Darrol M., BA (Concordia College), STB (Harvard Divinity School), MA, PhD (St. Michael’s College).
Van Seters, John, HBA (Toronto), BD (Princeton Theo. Seminary), MA, PhD (Yale).

Admission Requirements
Applicants to the MA program must have completed, or be in the process of completing, an honours (four-year) BA or its equivalent. They must not only meet the minimum university standard of a B average in the fourth year, but also have an overall B average, as well as a B+ in the major. Students who do not meet these criteria may apply for admission as qualifying students.
    The department welcomes applications from students in religious studies, and also from students in other departments in the humanities and social sciences whose training and proposed program involves significant interdisciplinary research pertinent to religious studies.
    Applicants must submit a writing sample, such as a term paper, as well as an application essay, guidelines for which are available from the department and in the application package.

Advanced Standing
Advanced standing or exemption is occasionally granted on the basis of work completed previously. Such standing will be considered upon written application by the student at the beginning of the program.

Program Requirements
All students follow one of two streams in the MA in religion and culture: the course stream or the thesis stream. Students are initially admitted into the course stream. Admission to the thesis stream is granted upon the successful completion of an accepted thesis proposal.
    Students in both streams are required to complete RE693 (Comprehensive Examination). This course is based on a reading list provided by the department, and emphasizes understanding of the world’s religions and the academic study of religion. In case of a failing grade, the course can be repeated once.
    In addition to RE693, course-stream students are required to complete RE698 (Research Project) and six other half-credit electives, including a minimum of one and a maximum of three courses taught by cognate and other faculty members outside the department. For the Research Project,  students focus on an area of study chosen in consultation with the course supervisor, then present that work, or a distillation of it, to a public audience. By “public” there are a variety of possibilities –  e.g., a lecture at a university colloquium, a conference, or other off-campus venues. The assessment of the project includes both the written work and the public presentation.
    Thesis-stream students, in addition to completing RE693, are required to (1) complete four half-credit electives, at least two of which are taught by members of the department, and (2) prepare an acceptable thesis proposal, a thesis, and an oral defence. A student cannot register in RE699 until the proposal is formally accepted. Proposals must follow the departmentally approved guidelines. A proposal may be submitted any time after admission to the program; full-time students must have their proposal approved by the end of their second term. Acceptance is dependent upon the quality of the proposal and the department’s assessment of a student’s overall ability.
    Students whose thesis work necessitates the use of a second language will be required to demonstrate competence in that language before the thesis proposal is accepted. Decisions about language requirements and how they shall be satisfied are made by the student’s thesis committee, in consultation with the graduate officer.
    Course-stream students enrolled full-time normally take three terms (12 months) to complete their degree, while thesis-stream students normally take four terms (16 months).
    A student’s specific program, including course selections, must be approved by the graduate officer.

Graduate Courses
Note: RE693 and RE698 are taught each year; others are not, and their specific content may also vary from year to year. The department’s Gold Book, revised annually and published in the winter term, lists the specific courses offered in a given year.

RE600    0.5
Issues in the Academic Study of Religion
An introduction to the emergence of the field of religious studies, and to current issues, theories and scholars that enliven it.
Exclusion: RE476

RE601    0.5
Fieldwork in Religious Studies
Fieldwork-based methods for studying religion as practised in contemporary communities.
Exclusion: RE477

RE602    0.5
Interdisciplinary Seminar
Current issues, debates and case studies in the interdisciplinary study of religion and culture, taught by a member of a cognate department.

RE620    0.5
Eras of Religious History I
A study of continuity and change in the cultural and religious dynamics of an era selected from an early historical period.

RE621    0.5
Eras of Religious History II
A study of continuity and change in the cultural and religious dynamics of an era selected from a late historical period.

RE622    0.5
Textual Studies I
A consideration of a particular text or body of texts, in translation or in the original language, from an early historical period.

RE623    0.5
Textual Studies II
A consideration of a particular text or body of texts, in translation or in the original language, from a late historical period.

RE624    0.5
Religious Figures I
An investigation of the lives or thought of early figures important for the study or practice of religion.

RE625    0.5
Religious Figures II
An investigation of the lives or thought of late figures important for the study or practice of religion.

RE626    0.5
Archaeology, Architecture, Art
An investigation of the physical culture of one or more religious traditions in an early period.

RE630    0.5
Ritual Studies
The analysis of one or more types of ritual or ritual systems along with methods for studying these systems.

RE631    0.5
An exploration of one or more ethical issues along with methods for studying these issues.

RE632    0.5
Religion and Society
An analysis of religion, social sciences, social structures and social dynamics.

RE633    0.5
Religion and the Individual
An analysis of religion, psychology and personality formation.

RE634    0.5
Cosmologies and Mythologies
An examination of conceptual and imaginative frameworks people use to interpret their environments and construct their worldviews.

RE680    0.5
Advanced Field Studies in Religion
In consultation with an advisor, a student or team of students locates and defines a field-study situation. In addition to reading and writing, a study normally involves work outside the classroom such as participant observation, interviewing.
Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. 

RE681    0.5
Seminar in Selected Problems in Religion and Culture
Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

RE683    0.5
Themes in Religion and Culture
An exploration of one or more religious themes appearing in one or more religious traditions or culture.

RE684    0.5
Laboratory Research
The use of selected laboratory techniques (e.g., those developed in the ritual studies laboratories) for examining religiously significant data.

RE685    0.5
Methodological Research
Research on one or more academic methods useful for studying religious phenomena.

RE693    0.5
Comprehensive Examination
Readings in preparation for a comprehensive examination covering the essentials for advanced research in religious studies.

RE698    0.5
Research Project
A supervised study leading to a public presentation.
Exclusion: RE699

Normally cannot be taken without an accepted proposal.