Interested in Studying Mormonism at UVA?
Consistent with Religious Studies’ comparative approach to the study of religion, the university does not offer a Mormon Studies degree. However, Religious Studies undergraduate and graduate students can choose a program focus or subspecialty in Mormonism and take advantage of the outstanding resources available through our program.
The Department of Religious Studies offers a number of courses that explore Mormonism alongside other religious traditions. Most courses are taught by American Religions faculty.
Regularly Offered Courses
Mormonism and American Culture
This course is designed to add substantive depth to a general understanding of American religious pluralism and insight into the socio-historical context of American religion through the study of Mormonism. In addition to introducing Mormonism’s basic beliefs and practices, the course will explore issues raised by Mormonism’s move toward the American mainstream while retaining its religious identity and cultural distinctiveness.
American Religious Innovation
This course is about America’s newer religious movements: Scientology, Nation of Islam and Mormonism. The class will be using theories of ritual and text to understand how religious communities constitute themselves around an originating vision and retain a sense of continuity notwithstanding dramatic change. We will ask also why these three movements have created such crisis for the American state and anxiety among its citizens.
Religion and Law
The general objective of this course is to explore intersecting discourses and social practices of religion and law. We will examine historical and contemporary examples of the law’s regulation of religion and religious actors, attending to the degrees of separation between state and religion in a variety of modern political regimes and with particular attention to culturally informed notions of freedom and equality in democratic societies. In addition to scholarly texts, students can expect to analyze cases, statutes and regulations that govern religion in and outside of the U.S.
Historiography Seminar in U.S. Religions
This course provides advanced training in the study of American religious history through a careful analysis of recent and classic scholarship in the field. It is designed to accommodate graduate students whose primary work is in religious history, as well as students from a variety of fields—history, theology, religious studies, politics, literature, anthropology, art history, law, and others—who might benefit from a thorough grounding in the religious history and historiography of the United States. In this way, the course lays the foundation for further advanced study in a variety of allied fields.
Previously Offered Classes
Modern American Marriage in Historical Context
The course is intended to stimulate thinking on questions such as: What is religion? How is it studied? Why study it? We will use marriage as a site to explore these questions with tools provided by historical and anthropological methods and ritual and gender theories. We begin by examining the historical evolution Christian marriage and family construction in its cultural context. Equal emphasis will be given to early modern and contemporary American marriage, including same-sex marriage and polyfidelity. Particular attention will be paid to the gendered ideologies and practices of marriage in relation to the shift from patriarchal to companionate marriage; the relationship between marriage and citizenship and civil rights; and sex, as the root symbol of marriage.
Most broadly this course invites you to consider the significance of the Bible to the creation and display of a variety of religious and not-so-religious meanings throughout U.S. history. Thus, we will study the Bible as both a sacred text for some and an unavoidable cultural object for all Americans. In addition, the three-century scope of the course lends itself to a reappraisal of American religious history from the vantage point of Bible use. Our more narrow focus is the function of the Bible as a key site for America’s debate about the social dimensions of piety and reason.
Religion, Gender and Sexuality
This course will explore the many ways that religious ideas, practices, and traditions have shaped and continue to shape notions of gender and sexuality. As well, you will be introduced to important theories related to the construction of religion in relation to gender and sexuality. The third focus of the course is on how to both intellectually and empathetically understand these phenomena in as much diversity as we can represent them in an introductory course.