Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Theologie en Religiewetenschap
Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion

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ReMA Programmes in NL

As a research master student you might want to follow courses at other places than only your home university. The following courses are offered by the research master programmes of other Dutch universities in the academic year 2016-2017. Registering for these subsidiary courses is not possible via NOSTER. Please contact the faculty that offers the course for more information and registration procedures.

University of Groningen

Research Master Religion Studies and Theology

a) General information
b) Programme

  • Theories of Religion (10 ects | semester 1: September 2016 – January 2017)
    Today, most scholars conceptualize ‘religion’ primarily as a cultural phenomenon, using insights, methods and theories that are also applied in cultural studies. This course unit explores some of the key issues and texts of the academic study of religion. Students will encounter pioneering ideas that have influenced the development of the study of religion, become acquainted with the key figures who shaped these ideas, analyze influential texts and discuss issues posed by the introduction of new concepts and methods.
  • Orient and Occident: Critical Investigations and Historical Perspectives (10 ects | semester 2: February – June 2017)
    This course unit addresses the European discovery and reception of Eastern religious traditions and the impact of Asian religions on religious and cultural development in Europe. Rather than describing ‘the West’ and ‘the East’ as two distinct categories, the course unit focuses on the cross-fertilization and the mutually constructed images that have characterized the history of these cultural spaces since antiquity. The course discusses concepts of Orientalism and Occidentalism and looks at “entangled histories” as dynamics of intercultural links. Topics to be discussed include the presumed ‘Eastern’ origin of Greek philosophical and religious ideas in antiquity, the connection between Gnostic and ancient Hermetic texts and Asian traditions, the increased contacts between Europe and Asia during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the reception of Asian culture during the Enlightenment, and the ‘Easternization of the West’ in the modern period.
  • Religion, Ethics and Pluralism (10 ects | semester 1: September 2016 – January 2017)
    The existence of a plurality of incompatible (religious) world views is one of the most abiding intellectual challenges. To embrace pluralism, i.e. viewing the plurality of religious and normative viewpoints as inevitable and even enriching, is historically a quite recent stance. For a long time, philosophers and theologians tried to establish the ultimate truth of a particular (religious) world-view and went on to discuss conditions of tolerance for those who deviated from this truth in the singular, which offers to others somewhat less than pluralism as described above. Pluralism may sit uneasily with absolute religious claims and is sometimes perceived to gravitate towards an unwholesome relativism. Recent polemic about the multicultural society is a characteristic reaction to the threats of pluralism. Is pluralism a good idea, is it even a viable option? The issue of pluralism, in short, is a focal area in which much of the intellectual excitement around the study of religion is located. In this module we will approach the issue of pluralism from a variety of fields: History, sociology, anthropology, epistemology, ethics, the philosophy of religion and politics.

University of Amsterdam

Research Master Religious Studies
a) General information
b) Programme

  • Methods and Theory in the Study of Religion (12 ects | semester 1: September – December 2016)
    This course has a double task. The primary one is close reading and discussion of seminal contributions to the academic study of religions, in order to achieve a better understanding of the specific problems and debates of this discipline. The secondary task is to offer a platform for students to practice and train their skills of presentation, performance, and discussion. The reading material will have a special focus on contemporary critical theory and new approaches to the study of religion. These approaches will be discussed in relation to the students’ ongoing research. The coordinator is responsible for the whole course, but classes are taught in collaboration with various specialists from the department of Religious Studies.
  • Religionism and historicism (6 ects | January 2017)
    This module is concerned with the notion of historicity and its relation to religious universalism. While modern notions of “religion” typically imply a claim of universal truth and validity grounded in the true nature of reality, a consistent emphasis on historicity implies questioning and relativizing such claims by emphasizing historical specificity, unicity, contingency, contextuality, and unpredictable change. In short, while religion makes general claims about an ultimate truth (e.g. “God”, “the Divine”, “the Absolute”, or “the Sacred”) that by definition cannot be touched by the forces of history and social change, it is in the very nature of historicity to question and undermine such claims. Sooner or later, all students of religion find themselves confronted with this conflict, and have to work out its implications with respect to the very meaning and significance of studying “religion” from an academic point of view. The objective of this course is make students aware of this problematics and experiment with existing attempts at resolving it.
  • Religious Experience ( 12 ects | semester 2: February – May 2017)
    It is the intention of the course to introduce to the varieties of research and debates concerning the topic of religious experience. We shall discuss the concept of (religious) experience, its analytical value within Religious Studies and different research approaches connected to religious experiences in different traditions or to different configurations of “experience” and “religion”. Paradigms of empirical research and case-studies will be discussed. In the last part of the course the students will work on a topic of their choice. At the end of the course the students will have the opportunity to give an oral presentation of their work under “conference-conditions”.
  • Polemics and Politics of Religious Identity (12 ects | semester 1: September – December 2016)
    Religious identities have often been negotiated and established within the context of a polemical and/or apologetic discourse. By demarcating one’s own religious identity from that of “others” who are seen as representative of what one rejects, groups and individuals present their own religious perspective in a positive light while simultaneously criticizing the perspectives of groups seen as rivals. This usually entails simplifications of various kinds, in which certain aspects of one’s own beliefs and practices and those of others are selectively highlighted or downplayed in the interest of specific collective or individual agendas. Within these dynamics, knowledge and power are intimately interconnected, and religious claims always carry implications that are in some sense political. In this course we will investigate some major theoretical perspectives in the context of material from antiquity (e.g. Porphyry against the Christians)  to the present

Utrecht University

Research Master Religious Studies
a) General information
b) Programme

  • Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion (15 ects | semester 1: September 2016 – January 2017)
    The aim of this course is twofold. Firstly, through close reading and discussion of seminal contributions to the academic study of religions, students arrive at a better understanding of the specific problems and debates of this discipline. Secondly, it is a platform for students to practice and train their skills of presentation, performance, and discussion. The reading material will have a special focus on contemporary critical theory and new approaches to the study of religion. These approaches will be discussed in relation to the students’ ongoing research.

  • Religious Texts and Interpretative Practices (5 ects | period 2; November 2016 – January 2017)
    This course is structured in four parts. The first part reviews the nexus between philology and Orientalism in the work of 19th- and 20th-century scholars of religion such as F. M. Müller, but also studies the emergence in the 21st century of new paradigms (“future philology”, distant reading) in the textual study of religion. The second part provides an overview of the scriptural canons of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, while also examining issues of power and authority in the construction, past and present, of these canons. The third part deals with interpretive techniques in the three Abrahamic traditions, from premodern types of scriptural exegesis to modern and contemporary ones. The fourth part explores religious reading techniques and interpretive practices in terms of their performative, ritual and material dimensions.

  • Materiality and Corporeality of Lived Religion (5 ects | period 3; February – April 2017)
    The structure of the course has four parts. In the first part, we will address the complex relation of “Religion and Materiality” in a historical perspective. This involves studying literature about a) materialism as the basis for a critique of religion (from 18th/19th century approaches to the new atheists), b) the implications of a de-materialized, “Protestant” understanding of religion (e.g. Talal Asad, Webb Keane), and c) a first encounter with new approaches to religion as a material and corporeal phenomenon (e.g. David Chidester, David Morgan, Birgit Meyer, Manuel Vásquez, Hent de Vries). The second part is titled “Corporeality: body and senses” and looks at the phenomenology of religion (from Rudolf Otto to Thomas Csordas), the new aesthetics of religion and insights from the neuro-sciences and cognitive biology for grasping the  cultivation of religious sensations. Part three, “Religious Material Culture” investigates recent research on a) religious topographies, sites and buildings, b) sacred objects, c) new and old media, d) religion at home, e) food, f) dress, and g) sound and music. In the fourth and last part, titled “Lived Religion in Diverse Societies”, the insights gained so far will be related to current conflicts triggered by clashes about the material and bodily manifestations of religion in diverse socities in Europe and elsewhere, involving debates about religious pluralism, legal implications of the freedom of religion, and ethics of diversity. The overall idea which the course seeks to convey is that a material and corporeal approach to religion brings into the picture aspects of religion that are often overlooked if a conventional take on religion as belief is taken as a starting point.

  • Piety and Violence (5 ects | period 3; February – April 2017)
    This course charts a number of religious ideologies and practices connected to violence: violence against the non-believing other, the non-believing self (apostates), women and children, abject subjects (such as non-heterosexuals), as well as material objects (iconoclasm). Focusing on the particular instance of modern and contemporary pious violence in Islamic contexts (both in the Middle East and in Europe), the course seeks to faciliate an understanding of the historical roots of the phenomenon, and to analyse the persuasive power violent religious ideologies unfold in colonial and postcolonial contexts. The course also critically engages with how religion, and particularly Islam, becomes conceptually associated with violence in the public sphere.

  • Transgresive Religion: Charisma, Antinomianism and Ecstasy (5 ects | period 4; April – June 2017)
    Recent theorizing in Religous Studies has stressed the boundary-crossing, transgressive aspects of religious beliefs and practices (Taussig; Tweed). This connects with the persistent concern in the sociology and anthropology of religion with the foundational notion of shamanism and of charismatic authority: how it comes about, is constructed and perpetuated, and ultimately, routinized. This course will examine how ecstatic religion is induced and celebrated, but also, how ecstatic practices are challenged, sometimes violently combated, by the representatives of quietist spirituality and sober religion. Case studies examined in this course include (antinomian) Sufism; pentecostalism; and Hasidism.

VU University Amsterdam

Research Master Religion and Theology
a) General information
b) Programme

  • Hermeneutics (6 ects | period 1; September – October 2016)
  • Research Skills (6 ects| period 3: January 2017)
    The lectures provide an introduction to science ethics and argumentation. Several assignments are connected to these lectures, although the outcome of these assignments must be integrated into the research proposal. Several series of tutorials provide an introduction to methodology, each on its own discipline. Each student follows one series of tutorials, in which the preliminary research proposal is converted into a definitive proposal.
  • Classics 1 (6 ects | period 4; February – March 2017) 
  • Classics 2 (6 ects| Period 5; April – May 2017)
    In this course, research master students and divinity students read an absolute top classic from the field of theology and/or religious studies. Staff members are cordially invited to join in order to create a community of readers. The course will include two types of sessions. During plenary sessions (the second session of the week), the whole group will practice close reading of a rather small but representative piece of text. This meeting is particularly open to staff members. During this meeting, flow of argumentation, ambiguities and evaluation will take center stage, introduced by a few short presentations from students or staff members. During the first session of the week, a larger part of the work is discussed, with a primary emphasis on the historical context and specific methodological approaches to the text. In most of these sessions, small groups will carry out their own research on a specific part or theme the books under discussion during that week. Each subgroup will present the results of their work during the first session. At the end of the course, students will present the results of the course during a public event to which all faculty staff and students will be invited