Vernon James Schubel joined the faculty in 1988. In addition to Religion 101 he teaches a variety of courses on Islam, including Classical Islam, Islam in Central Asia, and Sufism; and Religions of South Asia. His primary research interest is Islam in Central and South Asia. He spent seven months as a Fulbright scholar in Multan, Pakistan, in 1989, where he conducted research on centers of Sufi pilgrimage, and in 1996 he spent seven months of research in Uzbekistan. His book, Religious Performance in Contemporary Islam, was published by the University of South Carolina Press in 1993.
1986 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ Virginia
1980 — Master of Arts from Univ Virginia
1978 — Bachelor of Arts from Oklahoma State University
The format of this course is lecture and discussion. The usual enrollment in each section is twenty to twenty-five students. The course includes brief introductions to four or five major religious traditions, while exploring concepts and categories used in the study of religion, such as sacredness, myth, ritual, religious experience, and social dimensions of religion. Traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Native American traditions are presented through their classic scriptures and traditional practices. Readings vary among sections, but typically include important primary sources on Hindu thought and practice (e.g., the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-gita), Buddhist thought and practice (The Questions of King Milinda, The Heart Sutra), Jewish life and thought (selections from the Hebrew Bible, The Sayings of the Fathers), Christian origins (one or more Gospels, selected Pauline letters), Islam (selections from the Qur'an and Sufi mystical poetry), Confucianism (the Analects), Taoism (the Tao Te Ching), and modern expressions of religion (e.g., Martin Buber's I and Thou). Many of the primary sources are studied in conjunction with relevant secondary sources (e.g., Rudolf Otto's The Idea of the Holy, important articles by anthropologists of religion). The Department of Religious Studies emphasizes writing, and several essays are assigned in this course. The course is open to all students. Offered fall and spring.
This course covers the same material as RLST 101 but is open only to first-year students and will be run in a seminar format.
Islam is the religion of more than a billion people and the dominant cultural element in a geographical region that stretches from Morocco to Indonesia. This course examines the development of Islam and Islamic institutions, from the time of the Prophet Muhammad until the death of Al-Ghazali in 1111 CE. Special attention will be given to the rise of Sunni, Shi'i, and Sufi piety as distinctive responses to the Qur'anic revelation.
The South Asian subcontinent has been the home of a fascinating array of religions and religious movements. Focusing on Hinduism, this course will examine the development of religious practice in South Asia and the interaction of competing religious ideas over time. The course will include discussions of Indus Valley religion, Vedic Brahmanism, Jainism and Buddhism, the Upanishads, classical Hinduism, Bhakti, Islam, and Modern Hinduism.
This is a survey intended to acquaint students with major theoretical approaches to the academic study of religion. The course will cover phenomenological, psychoanalytical, sociological, and anthropological approaches to religion. Authors to be discussed will include Frazer, Marx, Freud, Weber, Durkheim, Eliade, Levi-Strauss, Douglas, Geertz, and Turner. This course is required for religious studies majors. Offered every fall.
This seminar will examine some of the important ideas, personalities, and institutions associated with Islamic mysticism. Students will read and discuss important primary and secondary sources on such topics as the development and organizations of Sufi tariqahs, Sufi mystical poetry, the nature of the Sufi path, and Sufi psychology. A crucial aspect of the course will be on examination of the role of the veneration of "holy persons" in Islamic piety. Prerequisite: RLST 240 (Classical Islam) or permission of the instructor.
This seminar will explore some of the crucial issues and debates in the contemporary Muslim world. Issues to be examined will include the compatibility of Islam with democracy, the connections between Islam and terrorism, the role of Wahabism in the construction of contemporary Islamic movements, feminist movements within Islam, Islam and pluralism, and Sufism in the contemporary context. The course will focus on primary sources, including writing by Khaled Abou Fadl, Amina Wadud, and Osama bin Laden. Prerequisite: RLST 240 or permission of instructor.
This course will be an examination of Islam in contemporary North America and Canada. It will explore such topics as the diversity of the Muslims community, the relevance and practice of Islamic law in a secular society, the problem of Islamophobia, and issues of race, ethnicity and gender among North American Muslims. Prerequisite: RLST 240 or permission of Instructor.
The department reserves individual studies to highly motivated students who are judged responsible and capable enough to work independently. Such courses might entail original research, but usually they are reading-oriented, allowing students to explore in depth topics that interest them or that supplement aspects of the major. Normally, students may pursue individual study only if they have taken all the courses offered by the department in that particular area of the curriculum. An individual study course cannot duplicate a course or topic being concurrently offered. Exceptions to this rule are at the discretion of the instructor and department chair.\n\nTo enroll, a student must seek permission of the instructor and department chair, ideally, during the semester before the individual study is to take place. The instructor and student agree on the nature of the work expected (e.g., several short papers, one long paper, an in-depth project, a public presentation, a lengthy general outline and annotated bibliography). The level should be advanced, with work on a par with a 300- or 400-level course. The student and instructor should meet on a regular basis, with the schedule to be determined by the instructor in consultation with the student. Individual studies may be taken for .5 or .25 unit, at the discretion of the instructor. Prerequisite: GPA of at least 3.0. Exceptions (e.g., for languages not regularly taught at Kenyon) are granted at the discretion of the instructor, with the approval of the department chair.