Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

THEO 278 Women & Religion

Spring 2015

Loyola University, John Felice Rome Center




Course Title:                            Women and Religion

                                                Spring 2015

Course Number:                      Theo 278

Time:                                       2 pm – 4.30 pm



Office hours:                           After class or by appointment

Prof. Zara Pogossian




Course Aims

This course will explore women's roles in various world religions, but with a particular emphasis on women and gender in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We will approach women and religion from two different by inter-related perspectives: how have various religions viewed women and how have women influenced their respective religions. We will focus on these two issues by looking at major world religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Chinese Religions, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Native Traditions, and New Age Religions. Parallel to this, we will trace the transformations and attitude changes towards such well-known biblical figures as Adam and Even in an effort to analyze concepts of religious transgression and justice, as well as implications of these ideas on gender roles in Judaism, Christianity and Islam throughout centuries.


Reading Assignments will include both secondary literature and primary sources. Hand-outs from primary sources will be posted on Loyola-Sakai or distributed in class.


Course Procedure

Students are given reading assignments prior to lectures on a given topic. This should enable them to participate actively in class-room discussions. Moreover, students are encouraged to take an active approach to the material read and/or discussed in class.


Participation in class: This means that you: a) have done the readings and thought about them; b) are in class; c) express your views and questions orally in class; d) are able to recall what went on in the previous class and relate it to the topic(s) under examination for the current class.  If any of these elements are missing you receive no credit for participation for that day.  I assume that occasionally students will be absent or have less to say than usual, however, persistent absence, unwillingness to speak in class, or having failed to do the reading will affect your overall participation grade.


Field Trip and Group Project

The course will include a visit to a relevant religious site in Rome (date and place TBA). This field trip will be combined with a group project. Students will work on the assignment in groups of 4-5 and will present the results of their research during the field trip. The requirements of the relevant research and specific guidelines will be posted on LUC-Sakai.


Oral Presentation

Students are required to prepare a 15-20 minute oral presentation in which they will identify themselves as a female religious leader and tell “her story”, i.e. place the given personality in its proper historical time and space, as well as explain her significance in that specific context. Students should talk to me when choosing their “personality” to be presented.


Writing Assignments


There will be two primary source-analysis. You will be required to read and analyze the historical, religious and gender-specific importance of the given texts. The sources will be posted on LUC-Sakai.



Students must provide appropriate footnotes and a bibliography of ALL sources used in their papers in order to avoid plagiarism. Students may consult the internet (e.g. Wikipedia et al.) only for their own information. General information found on the internet is not acceptable as a source for academic papers. However, students are encouraged to research academic databases, such as J-Store or Academic Search Premium, or primary sources from different religions published on the internet. Students should feel free to discuss the acceptability of specific internet resources with me should they have any questions on the matter. Cases of intentional or unintentional plagiarism will be dealt with in accordance with the university policy. Students may fail the paper or the entire course depending on the gravity of the situation.

If you have questions about how to cite material properly, refer to the appropriate sections of the MLA Style Manual or Chicago Manual of Style (or make an appointment to speak with me).  There are copies of both in the reference section of the library downstairs.


Please note that your papers will be submitted to turnitin.com to check their content for plagiarism.



The mid-term and the final exams will combine essay writing with short questions.


Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students will be able to:

-  appreciate the diversity and similarity of women's roles in the world religions;

-  ability to read and analyze primary sources critically; ability to prepare a written exposition of these analysis

-  develop skills in oral presentations

-  team-work and collaborative research skills




Women and Religious Traditions. 2nd Edition. Eds. Leona M. Anderson and Pamela Dickey Young. Oxford University Press, 2010. (ISBN: 978-0-19-543201-5)

Eve and Adam: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Readings on Genesis and Gender. Eds. Kristen E. Kvam, Linda S. Schearing, Valarie H. Ziegler. Indiana University Press, 2009. (ISBN-10: 0253212715)


Assessment Methods

Primary Source Analysis                     30% (15% each)

Oral Presentation                                 10%

Attendance and Participation               15%

Field Trip Presentation                        5%

Mid-Term Exam                                  20%

Final Exam                                          20%



Assessment Guidelines

General Guidelines for Letter Grades: A, B, C, D, and F.

A:  Work of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.

B:  This is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.  There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.

C:  This is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.

D:  This level of performance demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.  Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.  In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.

F: This work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


A  = 94 to 100   B  = 83 to 86   C = 70 to 74

A- = 90 to  93   B- = 80 to 82   C- = 60 to 69

B+ = 87 to  89   C+ = 75 to 79   F =  0 to 59 


Attendance Requirements

Students are allowed one excused absences. Any further absences will result in subtracting two points from your attendance and participation grade (20% of your final grade). Late arrivals will be noted and will affect your grade. Any student who is more than 15 minutes late may not enter the classroom as this will disturb the lecture and those class-mates who have made an effort to arrive on time. Students cannot leave the classroom before the end of the lecture.



Academic Honesty

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.


Please note that also submitting work that you have previously submitted (or plan to submit) for credit in another course is also a form of academic dishonesty, unless you obtain the explicit approval from both instructors to do so.



Loyola University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.