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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2006

T C 357 • Gods and Bombs

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
44495 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
CRD 007B

Course Description

This course will explore the relationship between religion and violence (especially warfare) cross-culturally and historically from a sociological perspective. The course is organized around three themes: the warrior, the pacifist, and the nonviolent activist. It examines the ways in which world's major religious traditions legitimate belief and behavior along a spectrum from holy war to pacifism, as well as efforts to see boundaries around the use of violence (e.g., just war theory). Finally, we examine efforts to synthesize the warrior and pacifist motifs in modern Gandhian nonviolence (fight like a warrior but, like the pacifist, avoid harming others). Toward the end of the course, we will devote attention to recent developments of nonviolent action as a technique of demilitarized conflict, growing out of religious traditions and embodied in movements symbolized by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

About the Professor Les Kurtz holds a M.A. in religion from the Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Grading Policy

This course will be taught in a seminar format with all participants contributing to the collective process of learning. In addition to collaborative learning, everyone will engage in his or her own research project. Grading will be based on the quality of the following assignments: Major research paper: 70% Presentations: 20% Annotated bibliography: 10% In-class presentations on each of the major topics of the course providing background information and analysis will include but go beyond the assigned readings and set them in context of other relevant primary materials and scholarship. Presentations should be supplemented with annotated bibliographies, submitted electronically so that they can be put on the class web site and thus made available to everyone in the class. You may wish to make your presentation and prepare a bibliography in the same general area as your term paper. At the end of the course, we will have presentations on the term papers in a professional format (15-minute presentations with some discussion following). Some of them will be in class and others will be during a marathon paper presentation-potluck dinner session, the grand finale of the course.


R. K. Prabhu and U. R. Rao, eds., The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi Lester Kurtz, Gods and Bombs: An Anthology of Collected Readings (Available online and at Paradigm Books)


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