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Divinity Courses 2009-2010
(as of July 1, 2009)
The letter “a” following the course number denotes the fall term; the letter “b” denotes the spring term.
REL 760a, Music and Theology in the 16th Century: Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and the Council of Trent
The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century was a “media event.” The invention of the printing press, the partisanship of famous artists like Dürer and Cranach and–not least–the support of many musicians and composers were responsible for spreading the thoughts of the Reformation. But while Luther gave an important place to music, Zwingli and Calvin were much more skeptical. Music–especially sacred music–was not only a chance for Reformation, it was also a problem, because it was tightly connected with Catholic liturgical and esthetic traditions.
The Reformers had to rethink the place music could have in worship and about the function of music in secular life. But first, they had to look for theological justification, because the authorization of music by any kind of tradition wasn’t possible any more. This course will show how music was viewed by the Reformers and which theological decisions formed the basis for their views. But we will also examine the effect of these theological matters on musical practice: on liturgical singing and on composers and their compositions. Markus Rathey
REL 780b, The Churches of the East
This course will introduce students to the various greater and lesser churches of Eastern Christianity. It will look particularly at the Christological divisions which separated Eastern Orthodox from Syrian and Coptic Orthodox, Church of the East and Maronite, including the Christology of Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius, the Chalcedonian Definition, the Christological writings of Severus of Antioch, the monothelitic controversy, and the creedal documents of the Church of the East. It will also look at the recent Agreed Statements on Christology signed between the Roman Catholic Church and the Syrian and Coptic Orthodox Churches under the auspices of Pro Oriente, Vienna, and the relevant statements in the current dialogue between the various Syrian Churches. It will consider the worship of these churches in relation to the Eucharist, noting the history, family likenesses, development and theology, and any influence of Christological teaching. Bryan D. Spinks
REL 782a, Foundations of Christian Worship
This course focuses on theological and historical approaches to the study of Christian worship, while also giving appropriate attention to pastoral, cultural and contemporary issues. The first part of the course seeks to familiarize students with the basic elements of communal, public prayer in the Christian tradition (such as its roots in Hebrew Scripture, its Trinitarian basis and direction, its ways of figuring time and space, its use of language, scripture, music, the arts, etc.). The second part of the course provides an outline of historical developments, from the biblical roots to the present. In addition, select class sessions will focus on important questions such as the relationship between gendered lives and liturgical celebration, and between liturgy and ethical commitments, for example justice and earthcare. “Foundations of Christian Worship,” as the gateway course to the Program in Liturgical Studies, should be taken prior to other liturgy courses offered at Yale. The course is especially recommended for all students preparing for ordination and/or other responsibilities in worship leadership. It is an essential course for all students interested in graduate work in liturgical studies. Teresa Berger
REL 785a, Chant and Liturgy in the Latin Middle Ages: An Introduction to the Sources
This interdisciplinary course is designed for scholars, performers and liturgists. Focus is on manuscripts from the twelfth century, and from centers of major musical, liturgical and exegetical importance: the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris; the use of Hirsau around Mainz; the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem; and liturgical change in the region around Winchester from the early eleventh through the late twelfth century. Students should have graduate or professional-level expertise in one of the following: music; liturgics; Latin; manuscript study; medieval history; biblical study; theology; or art history. Margot Fassler
REL 786, Liturgy and Gender (Queer Worship)
A multi-faith, multi-racial and multi-theological seminar examining the ways in which liturgy and gender intersect, using contemporary resources. The aim of this course is to offer students the opportunity to reflect critically on how feminist, womanist, and queer theories and theologies are impacting how Christian worship is both performed and reflected-upon. Students will leave the course with analytical and practical tools for reading and crafting worship materials in their own contexts which take account of gender as a category of analysis and praxis. Siobhán Garrigan
REL 788a, Worship and War
How does war shape worship, and how does worship shape war? Meaning: how do the things we do in and say about worship affect or inform or influence the things that we do in wars, and vice versa? To explore the following questions: how should we who craft or lead worship respond to war in them? What prayers do we say? What songs do we sing? What symbolic actions do we use, borrow, or design? What are the roles of sermons, art, dance, and religious performance in a time or place of war? And what do the arts of war say to or about our worship of God? This course will be conducted as a seminar, requiring substantial pre-class reading and video-viewing as well as group discussion. It requires field study of worship services at a congregation of a tradition different to your own (for which you will be given training) and considerable learning about the city neighborhood in which the church is located. Trips to the New Haven Public Library and other civic institutions in the city may be required to afford this learning. Siobhán Garrigan
REL 789a, Gender and Liturgical History
Does gender shape liturgy? Is gender inscribed into the liturgical tradition? How did gendered identities mark worship practices, for example in seating arrangements, in participation in or exclusion from certain rituals, or in visual representations in sacred space? And does gender still matter in the formation of liturgical practices in the 21st century? These are just some of the questions this course proposes for intellectual inqury. Fundamentally, the category “gender” will be understood to attend to all gendered identities and sexualities. Gender, in other words, goes beyond binary femininity and masculinity and includes all gendered particularities (e.g. eunuchs in Byzantium or intersexed people in America, as well as men and women). Gender thus is an unstable and context-specific category, relational with “the other (gender),” but relational also with wider cultural materials and with markers of difference such as status, ethnicity, and age. What relationship is there between gender, thus understood, and the liturgical tradition? Briefly, no liturgy ever was celebrated in a vacuum of cultural referents, and gender constructions were one such fundamental cultural referent. They continue to be a cultural referent, even (or especially?) at a moment in time when traditional gender constructions are breaking down. One could thus say that gender has always been and continues to be a fundamental marker of all liturgical life. This course investigates how the liturgical tradition was profoundly shaped by, and itself shaped and continues to shape, gendered lives and symbolic meanings associated with gendered identities. Teresa Berger
REL 796b, Christian Marriage: Biblical Themes, Theological Reflections, and Liturgical Celebrations
This course is an exploration of the celebration of marriage, combining some biblical exegesis and theological reflection with close examination of the evolution of the liturgical rites. It looks at some foundation biblical passages, and it considers the Jewish religious matrix and the Roman and Germanic legal setting of early Christian marriage. Examination is made of the theology of marriage in selected writings and sermons, ancient and modern, and study of the structure and theology of the marriage rites in the Eastern Orthodox, East Syrian, and Maronite churches. The history of the Western marriage rites is traced from the early sacramentaries through to the 1614 Ritual, as well as the theological background and rites of the major Reformation traditions, together with some customs of a more social nature. Modern marriage rites in American churches are compared. Selected recent books on Christian marriage are read. Bryan D. Spinks
REL 839b, Psalms in Literature and Music
A study of selected psalms (e.g. 23, 130, 150) as literary and theological works that have had a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. From this beginning we will then look at these scriptural texts as inspiration for a wide variety of literary and musical compositions and explore the relationship between Scripture and art, in this case music and literature. What happens to the biblical text over time and as interpreted in different media? Peter Hawkins and Markus Rathey
REL 842a, Creative & Dramatic Writing
In Christ Is the Question Wayne Meeks writes, regarding the advent of Christianity: "It is, of course, difficult for academic historians to believe that poetry can make history – but that, I submit, is what happened." This course will ask the following two questions: Are there signs of this poetry in current dramatic writing and fiction? And where do we find this poetry in our own writing? We will read dramatic work by Anton Chekhov, Harold Pinter, Horton Foote, August Wilson, Lynn Nottage, fiction by Alice Munro and Jhumpa Lahiri, as well as look at the films Paradise Now (Palestine), Walk On Water (Israel) and The Band's Visit (Israel). Concurrent with this we will be working on our own dramatic scenes, monologues, plays or stories. As the term proceeds, we will present and discuss this writing. The weekly two hour meeting will be supplemented with office-hour appointments with each individual student. Throughout the term a fundamental rule to any rigorous creative or scientific endeavor will be emphasized: "show, don't tell." One may argue that some contemporary artists do in fact promulgate, or "preach," their ideas, and that this is accepted in our current cultural climate because what is being depicted, in terms of demeaning human aspiration or violent behavior, is considered cutting edge or topical. But as Christian thinkers or artists we cannot expect to get away with "telling" our story. We must be rigorous and honest in working out the specifics of a creative work, and allow the theme and structure to emerge naturally out of these. What we write can be healing, life-affirmative and fundamentally Christian without any need necessarily to "steer" it in such a direction. Russell Davis
REL 851b, Religious Themes in Contemporary Fiction: Short Story
Readings in contemporary American short fiction with a particular interest in scriptural resonance and religious (Jewish as well as Christian) significance. Authors to be considered: Flannery O’Connor, John Updike, Allegra Goodman, Tobias Wolff, Andre Dubus, John Clayton, Mary Gordon. Peter Hawkins
REL 857a, Religious Lyric in Britain
A survey of the religious lyric in Britain from the Anglo-Saxon Caedmon to the contemporary poet Michael Symmons Roberts. The course will feature close readings of individual poems, acquaintance with a range of poets, and assessment of the permutations of Christian religious sensibility within a national literary tradition. Peter Hawkins
REL 910a–b, ISM Colloquium Martin D. Jean
REL 911a–b, Marquand Chapel Choir Patrick Evans
REL 912a, Principles and Practice of Preaching
This is the introductory course in the theology, history, and practice of preaching, and is the prerequisite for all advanced courses in homiletics. Special attention is given to biblical exposition, the congregational context, the appropriate use of experience, the development of a homiletical imagination, and engaging all the preacher’s gifts for communication. The course includes lecture presentations and small group practica for which students prepare and deliver sermons. Students must sign up for a one of the practica when they sign up for this course.
Thomas Troeger, Nora Tisdale
REL 913a–b, Marquand Gospel Choir Mark Miller
REL 928a–b, Musical Skills and Vocal Development for Parish Ministry
The course is designed to equip students preparing for ministry with the vocal and musical skills necessary for planning and leading Christian worship in a wide variety of liturgical traditions. We engage practical matters in congregational song, ways in which singing forms community, and strategies for helping the members of the assembly claim their own voices in a culture which privileges performance-quality individualism over the communal musicianship of the assembly. We learn a diversity of musical and liturgical styles, including chant, psalm-singing, Sacred Harp, African American and global song traditions in which the role of the enlivener is essential. The course requires field work in local congregations and uses the daily ecumenical worship in Marquand Chapel as a point of discussion. Patrick Evans
REL 963a Congregational Song as a Resource for Preaching and Worship
The course opens by examining some of the primary historical periods of hymn writing in the western church that are represented in mainstream hymnals, then move on to consider contemporary and global congregational song. Students will get to design a service and create and deliver a sermon based on these perspectives.
Students will then learn how to write a hymn text – students with the gift of musical composition may instead write a hymn setting. Students will be required to write hymns in light of the theological and social needs of our time. In teams they will collaborate to design and lead us in services that feature their hymn texts with settings (where possible) that music students have composed.
Thomas Troeger, Patrick Evans
REL 967b, Theologies of Preaching
In recent decades, homileticians have increasingly turned from a focus on methods of preaching to a concern for the purposes of preaching. Why and what do we preach? How do we theologically understand the act of preaching? How is preaching something in which the gathered congregation participates? What is the interrelationship of the gospel and culture in preaching? How are our answers to these perennial questions shifting in a postmodern ethos? The course will consider a number of recent works that provide a wide range of answers to these questions. Students will write a brief initial essay on what they believe to be their theology of preaching. Drawing upon the theological/homiletical principles that they encounter in their reading, students will write brief essays, create and deliver sermons, and then critically analyze the theological character of their proclamation, seeing if it is congruent with their articulated theology of preaching. At the end of the course, they will write a final essay about what they discovered from a close examination of the text books, and from comparing the implicit theology of their sermons with the theology that they claimed at the beginning of the course. Where are they congruent, where are they different, what are the implications for their preaching in the future? Thomas Troeger
REL 969b, The Round Table Pulpit: Developing Services through Group Bible Study
Thomas Troeger, Nora Tisdale
*As of July 1, this course does not have a description.
Re-Imagining the Hours of the Virgin
This course will draw its inspiration from the devotional series of prayers known as the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or more commonly called the Hours of the Virgin. A Book of Hours is a prayer book intended to be used not by priests or nuns, but by ordinary people, the lay men and women of the Middle Ages. From the late thirteenth to the early sixteenth century, the Book of Hours was the medieval best seller, number one for nearly 250 years. Each hour consists of antiphons, psalms, hymns, prayers, verses and responses and is joined by a painted scene or illumination. Books of Hours contain at heart a series of short offices, The Hours of the Virgin, which were meant to be recited at seven canonical times (or hours) of the day. The standard cycle, with common variations, is as follows: Matins (Annunciation), Lauds (Visitation), Prime (Nativity), Terce (Annunciation to the Shepherds), Sext (Adoration of the Magi), None (Presentation in the Temple), Vespers (Flight into Egypt), Compline (Coronation of the Virgin). Following this “Infancy Cycle” there are two more prayers centered on the Virgin and also linked to images: Obsecro Te (Virgin and Child) and O Intemerata (Lamentation or Pieta). Within the pages of these hand-painted treasures, culture and civilization flourished. They constitute some of the most glorious masterpieces of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The course will seek to re-imagine those scenes in starkly contemporary terms and, in so doing, envision a theologically sound, ecumenically fruitful, spiritually empowering, and socially liberating interpretation of Mary for the twenty-first century. It will conclude with a related performance project that the instructor, an artist, is currently developing. David Michalek
Visual Controversies: Religion and the Politics of Vision
This interdisciplinary graduate seminar will explore the destruction, censorship, and suppression of pictures and objects, as these acts have been motivated by religious convictions and practices, in the United States from colonization to the present. In such episodes, religion does not operate in a vacuum but draws attention to various other cultural pressure points concerning, e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. The course will treat iconoclasm as a fundamental constituent in the American myth of national origins. The seductive idea of beginning anew, smashing idols of the past, and drawing/writing American cultural and religious history on a blank slate, on the great vacuity of a wilderness continent, shapes early understandings of American destiny----and continues to motivate American imagination. As early as the seventeenth century, and up to the present day, individuals and groups in the geographic area that is now the United States have practiced a range of behaviors we might meaningfully, though often figuratively, label iconoclastic. The course focuses most specifically on variations of Protestant Christianity, but also directs attention to case studies within American Judaism, Islam, and Catholicism, e.g., and looks to comparative situations and episodes of contention elsewhere in the world. Topics to be considered include: Puritan use of a theology of figuration to justify genocide as an “iconoclastic” act in the Pequot War; Shaker constructions of visionary pictures as forms of “writing” rather than “art”; sculptor Rose Kohler’s determination to define and regulate “Jewish art” in her work with National Council of Jewish Women; recent adjudication of the public display of the Ten Commandments or Christian nativity scenes in the context of religious pluralism and the First Amendment; international culture wars and the specific uses of “blasphemy” charges to restrict images and the visual practices of religions (by Rudolph Giuliani and Jesse Helms, for example, as well as the controversy over Danish cartoons representing Muhammad); and the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha in 2001. By permission of instructor. Sally M. Promey
The course introduces students to the field of ethnomusicology. It is a special Oriental approach to this discipline, based on screening live recordings. The course focuses upon collecting elements of music heritage from the social context, as well as historical-social-musical ethnic events… It includes archiving, analyzing modalities, rhythms, forms and reusing the collected data for the actual music need (and inspiration), such as composition of music education, performance etc. Eilas Kesrouani.