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The disciplines taught

The courses offered at FTSR are grouped into “Historiography, concepts and methods”, “Fields”, “Approaches” and “Languages”.
 

Historiography, concepts and methods

Historiography and epistemology of the history of religions
The concern here is to thematize the problems, theories, methods and institutional practices of scientific research in the history of religions. A first phase traces the history of the question of cultural otherness (represented in turns by ancient civilizations, non-European cultures and the European popular strata). A second phase studies the history of the question, developed by the human and social sciences, about the genesis, nature and function of the religious phenomenon.

Fields

Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament
This field aims to study, in their original language, the different books of the Hebrew Bible that the Christians call the Old Testament, implying a deep study of the history and the literature, and even the archaeology of the ancient Near East. These courses introduce students to the reading and criticism of texts, the literary genres and conceptual universe of the ancient Israelites, and the appreciation of the religious issues of the Hebrew Bible texts.

History of ancient and modern Christianity
This field studies, in a critical manner and with all the available documentation, both literary and non-literary, the history of cultures and religious traditions that define themselves as Christian. The adopted viewpoint combines anthropology, social history, and the history of ideas and representations to analyze the ancient and modern Christianities in themselves and in their contacts with other cultures. For the ancient period (late Antiquity), the courses address the diversity and spread of Christianity in the Mediterranean world. For the modern period (post-Renaissance), the evolution of Christian cultures and traditions is considered in context of the issues of decentring, the pluralisation of denominations and secularization.

History of ancient and modern Judaism
The courses in the field “History of ancient and modern Judaism” approach Judaism in its historical, sociological, cultural, philosophical, political and religious dimensions. These studies introduce students to a reasoned critical approach of the sources connected with Judaism, from antiquity to the contemporary period.

Islam
The courses in the field “Islam” approach Muslim knowledge and practices in different regions of the world from a historical and socio-anthropological viewpoint and in a comparative perspective. The origins and different sources of Muslim thought (Koran, Hadith, law and mysticism) as well as the Sunni and Shiite currents and the Sufi fellowships are treated using a dynamic and gendered approach and taking into account the political and social contexts of each period.

New Testament and ancient Christian literature
The focus of New Testament studies is to understand the 27 books that comprise, together with the Hebrew Bible, the foundation writings of Christianity. The methodology employed covers a wide field: criticism, establishment and analysis of the texts; history of early Christianity; study of the Jewish and Greek religious contexts and backgrounds; literary analyses; cultural studies and study of the theology displayed by each piece of writing. This corpus is studied specifically in its connections with the ancient Christian literature composed of patristic, apocryphal and documentary texts. It is studied from the perspective of the interpretative history of the Christian foundation texts.

Religious and spiritual plurality in contemporary societies
The field “Religious and spiritual plurality in contemporary societies” takes a multidisciplinary approach: sociology, together with the psychology of religions and cultural and social anthropology, puts into empirical and theoretical perspective the religious pluralisation due to migrations and cultural globalization, the emergence of new spiritualities and the interactions among the different forms taken by this new religious plurality and the government and civil society.

Transversal and marginalized religious traditions
The purpose of this course is to study the historico-religious forms that, in their respective contexts of affiliation, appear “marginalized” in relationship to the historically dominant religious forms. It contains three fields of specialized study:

  • The mythico-ritual productions and other symbolic institutions of the non-European cultures formerly qualified as “primitive”,
  • The magico-religious forms proper to the European folkloric strata,
  • The modern and contemporary magico-esoteric currents in Europe.

Approaches

Anthropology of religions
Anthropology has favoured the study of religions as a way of accessing the ‘collective representations’ and practices of the studied cultures. Today, if the very notion of religion (like any other European category) must be contextualized, the theoretical tools forged in this field remain useful for understanding. In Lausanne, the courses on the anthropology of religions evaluate the different categories (‘religion’, ‘traditions’, myth, etc.) and the particular methods employed in this field:

  • Qualitative field surveys
  • Holistic approach to cultures
  • Predominance of the non-European fields and the comparative perspective

A workshop in visual anthropology expands the studies in this approach.

Psychology of religion
Based on courses and seminars, this teaching aims to show how certain themes proper to the religious field can be clarified from a psychological point of view. It has a methodological aspect: to discuss the application of models and psychological instruments in order to interpret behaviours or religious phenomena, in particular when one is interested in traditions that do not share the vision of the human being underlying western modernity. On the level of content, it approaches the study of some aspects of conscious and unconscious psychological functioning, individual and collective, and provides a psychological explication of normal and pathological religious behaviours.

Religions and migrations in social sciences

How to treat gender relationships in a Kosovan nightclub in Lausanne? What issues are relevant to the Senegalese-Swiss wrestling festival? All over the world, practices connected with religious affiliation, whether about diet, clothing or worship, are the subjects of constant revisions associated with social changes. The courses offered connect theoretical approaches (notions of diasporas, transnational and translocal social space, world-society, diversity and event) with the application of social science research methods (ethnography, qualitative analysis and audiovisual anthropology) in the European and non-European urban environment, viewed from a historical, comparative and gendered perspective.

Sociology of religions
Why are the fundamentalists so successful in contemporary society? How can we explain beliefs in UFOs? And why is the United States, one of the most industrialized countries in the world, also one of the most religious? It is to such questions, and to many more besides, that the sociology of religions gives answers. The different courses in sociology of religions provide students with a deep knowledge of the classical and modern theories in this scientific field, as well as the methodological skills necessary to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research in the religious field of today.

Languages

Post-classical Greek
The teaching of post-classical Greek, or Koine Greek, which lasts three years, is designed to prepare students for an independent reading of the Christian literature of the first two centuries. The 1st year focuses on an introduction to grammatical and linguistic knowledge in which the morphology and syntax of the main difficulties of the language are approached. This course also prepares students for the critical analysis and the interpretation of texts. The 2nd and 3rd years essentially focus on reading extracts from the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Jewish Bible), the great letters of the Pauline School, the apocrypha and the patristic texts.

Biblical Hebrew
The teaching of biblical Hebrew, which lasts four semesters, introduces students to the language by raising their awareness of its Semitic characteristics. The learning processes of reading, and the introduction of basic morphology and syntax, give students access to the classic Hebrew literature of the Old Testament and provide a methodology that prepares them to study exegetics.

Modern Hebrew
This course introduces the acquisition of the alphabet, the grammar and the syntax of Modern Hebrew, as well as its reading. It is primarily meant for the students of the Faculty of Theology and Sciences of Religions, Arts and SSP who are taking courses in the history of Judaism, but it is also open to any interested person up to a limit of 20 participants.

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