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Stories We Tell Course Pairing

Theology Matters (TH 201)

What is the good life and what does God have to do with it? This course examines the Christian understanding of human flourishing, as it has been shaped by the Bible, the experience of the early Christian community, and the insights of modern theologians. We will learn about central biblical narratives and their interpretation by Jews and Christians; classic works of theological exploration from the Christian tradition; and the relevance of theology to modern concerns about social justice, climate change, and interreligious relations.   

Faculty Biography

Dr. John Zaleski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology and holds a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University. His primary teaching and research interests are in Christian and Islamic thought, as well as in the comparative study of religious and theological traditions. Dr. Zaleski lives in Baltimore with his wife and 2-year old daughter and when he is not deciphering medieval Arabic and Syriac texts loves nothing more than going for a hike and chatting about God's greatest gift to humanity: the game of baseball.

Encountering the Past (HS 100)

Rather than approaching history as a list of dates, names, and historical events, this introductory course instead explores how historians have defined and practiced their craft, approached key themes in their scholarship, and deployed a vast array of evidence in support of historical interpretations. In other words, we will study how historians make their histories. In doing so, we will approach the discipline as a contested landscape full of debate and conflict where ideas do battle. Unlike many other disciplines, history has no set canon, nor does it have a narrowly defined set of practices or theoretical approaches. This course sets out to introduce students to some of the methods used by historians, while bearing in mind that historical knowledge is provisional and complex. Along the way, students will develop the skills necessary for understanding and producing histories, which include the critical evaluation of sources and the ability to write cogently and persuasively about events in the past. Finally, this course also asks students to think about why the study of history is important to our lives today. We will engage these topics and questions by exploring myths and realities related to the Middle East. In the Western media, the Middle East is often depicted as a hot desert inhabited by Muslim Arabs where women are oppressed, violence is endemic, and anti-Western views are dominant. In reality, the Middle East is an ethnically diverse region of the world and the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. Members of different faith groups and ethnicities have coexisted and cooperated with one another as well as having come into conflict. We will explore how distorted views and images regarding the Middle East took hold and became popularized though literature, media, film, art and other mediums. We will also examine how the native peoples of the Middle East addressed Western representations of the Orient in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries at the height of European imperialism.

Faculty Biography

Dr. Bahar Jalali teaches the history of the Middle East and also specializes in Gender Studies. 

Mentor Biography

Jill Eigenbrode serves as an Assistant Director in the Academic Advising and Support Center. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from University of Maryland, College Park and a Master of Arts from Notre Dame of Maryland University. A lifelong native of Maryland, she enjoys hiking, reading, and traveling in her spare time.

Virtual Advisor

TH 201 satisfies the Theology core requirement for all students. HS 100 satisfies the History core requirement for all students.