Rel 304
Fall 2000
K. Torjesen
M 4:00-6:50


This course will explore the trajectories in the rapidly expanding field of Women's Studies in Religion. The approach will be comparative, examining the reconceptualizations of God, Scripture, ethics, spirituality and sexuality by Jewish, Christian, Womanist, Mujerista and Asian feminists. The global context of feminism will be highlighted by sessions devoted to women's religious practices in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Sept. 11: Prehistorical Goddess Religions

Lecture: Goddesses of Old Europe

Required Reading: Marija Gimbutas, The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, pp. 37-56, 67-88 Tikvah Frymer-Kensky, In the Wake of the Goddess, pp. 1- 80 Sabina Teubal, "The Rise and Fall of Female Reproductive Control as Seen through Images of Women" in Women in Goddess Traditions edited by Karen King, pp. 281-309 Recommended Reading: Margaret Ehrenberg, Women in Prehistory

Sept 18: Theories of Origins: Patriarchy as a Historical Phenomenon

Required Reading: Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy, pp. 1-99 Michele Rosaldo, Women Culture and Society, pp.17- 42 Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Women" " in Women, Culture and Society edited by Michele Rosaldo Nancy Chorodow, "Family Structure and Feminine Personality" in Women, Culture and Society edited by Michele Rosaldo, pp. 43-65

Recommended Reading: Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family J.J. Bachofen, Mother Right

Sept. 25: Rethinking Judaism

Guest Lecture: Robin Goldberg

Required Reading: Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai, pp. 120-169 Rachel Adler, Engendering Judaism, xiv-xxviii, 61-104 Recommended Reading: Umansky and Ashton, Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess

Oct 2: Rethinking God in Christianity

Required Reading: Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is, pp.150-187 Sallie McFague, Models of God, pp. 29-87 Carter Heyward, Touching Our Strength, pp. 87-118

Recommended Reading: Rita Nakashima Brock, Journeys of the Heart Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Jesus, Miriam's Child Sallie McFague, Metaphorical Theology Katie Canon, Black Womanist Ethics Jacqueline Grant, Recovery of Black Presence Emilie Townes, In A Blaze of Glory Marcia Riggs, Awake, Arise, and Act Emilie M. Townes, A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering Karen-Baker Fletcher, My Sister/My Brother

Oct 9: Rethinking the Qu'ran

Guest Lecture: Zayn Kassam

Required Reading: Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam, pp. 41-79, 144-168 Barbara Stowasser, Women in Qu'ran, Traditions and Interpretations, pp. 25-38, 105-155

Recommended Readings: Fatima Mernissi, Women and Islam Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Women, Religion and Social Change Fatima Mernissi, Beyond the Veil Amina Wadud, Qu'ran and Woman

Oct 16: First Paper Due

Goddesses in Asian Women's Religious Experience

Guest Lecture: Lina Gupta

Required Readng: Miriam Levering, "Stories of Enlightened Women in Ch'an and the Chinese Buddhist Female Bodhisatva/Goddess Tradition" in Women and Goddess Traditions ed. by Karen King pp. 137-175 Miranda Shaw, "Worship of Women in Tantric Buddhism: Male is to Female as Devotee is to Goddess" in Women and Goddess Traditions ed. by Karen King, pp. 111-136 Rita Gross, "Some Buddhist Perspectives on the Goddess" in Women and Goddess Traditions ed. by Karen King, pp. 406-425

Recommended Reading: Wendy Doniger, Women, Androgynes and Other Mythical Beasts Miranda Shaw, Passionate Enlightenment Buddhism, Sexuality and Gender, ed. Jose Ignacio Cabezon

Oct 23: The Problem of Sacred Scripture

Required Reading: Riffat Hassan, "Muslim Women and Post Patriarchal Islam," pp. 39-64 Judith Wegner, Chattel or person? The Status of Women in the Mishnah, pp. 145-181 Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her, pp. 41-67 Delores Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness, pp. 1-74, 178- 20 Recommended Reading: Amina Wadud, Qu'ran and Woman Phyllis Tribble, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality Marcia Falk, Book of Blessings

Oct 30: Rethinking Christianity in Asia and Latin America

Required Reading: Trinh T. Minh-ha, Women, Native, Other, pp. 78-116 Chung Hyun Kyung, Struggle to be the Sun Again, pp. 22- 73 Gloria Anzaldua, Making Face, Making Soul, Haciendo Caras, pp. 377-402 Linda Moody, Women Encounter God, pp. 46-79

Recommended Reading: Rita Nakashima Brock, Journeys of the Heart Ada Maria Isazi Diaz, Hispanic Women: Prophetic Voice in the Church, pp.1-110 Elsa Tamez, Through Her Eyes Ana Maria Diaz Stevens, Oxcart Catholicism

Nov 6: Second Paper Due

Ritual Power in Traditional Religious Experience

Guest Lecture: Kay Wicker

Required Reading: Karen McCarthy Brown, Mama Lola, pp. 1-20, 220-309 Amba Oduyoye and Musimbi R.A. Kanyoro, The Will to Arise: Women, Tradition and the Church in Africa, pp. 1-53 Awa Thiam, Black Sisters Speak Out, pp.53-109 Recommended Reading: Sylvia Marcos, "Embodied Thought: Gender Categories in Mesoamerica", pp. 1-23 Sylvia Marcos, "The Concept of the Body in Mesoamerica" Inez Talamantaz, "Images of the Feminine in Apache Religion", pp. 131-145

Nov 13: Feminist Ethics

Required Reading: Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father, pp. 44-68 Sharon Welch, A Feminist Ethics of Risk, pp. 103-180 Sara Hoagland, Lesbian Ethics, pp. 69-156

Recommended Reading: Claudia Card, Feminist Ethics Carole Gilligan, In a Different Voice

Nov 27: Ecofeminism: Feminism, Religion and the Earth

Required Readings: Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace, pp. 33-113 Sallie McFague, The Body of God, pp. 27-97 Karen Baker-Fletcher, Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit, pp. 1-66

Recommended Readings: Anne Primavesi, From Apocalypse to Genesis Judith Plant, Healing the Wounds Carole Adams, Ecofeminist and the Sacred Rosemary Ruether, Gaia and God

Dec 4: Third Paper Due

Women's Spiritualities

Required Reading: Cynthia Eller, Living in the Lap of the Goddess Selected Readings from Required Reading

Recommended Reading: Starhawk, Truth or Dare, Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins, The Feminine Face of God Carol Christ, Rediscovering the Goddess Barbara Walker, Women's Rituals Ursula King, Women and Spirituality Carol Christ, Laughter of Aphrodite Christ and Plaskow, Weaving the Visions Rosemary Ruether, Womenguides Emilie Townes, In a Blaze of Glory Rosemary Ruether, WomanChurch


Reading and Class Participation
Leadership of a session
Three 7-8 page papers comparing the views of two or three writers on a topic that has arisen either in the reading or during class discussion. It will be important to keep the topic narrowly focused and to limit the material considered by each writer to an article or a chapter.


These are available at Cokesbury at the Claremont School of Theology:

Cynthia Eller, Living in the Lap of the Goddess
The reader for the course is available at King's Copies, 380 W. Foothill Blvd.

Special Announcement: Lina Gupta will be giving a course on Ecofeminism in the Spring