Women and Religion in the Islamic Tradition

In this course, we examine recent academic debates that have changed the way we understand women, gender, and Islam. In particular, we will read and discuss key texts in the history of Islamic law and anthropology. The legal texts present and analyze the male-dominated juristic discourse on women in the pre-modern period. They also offer us a social analysis of women’s lived relationship with the law. The anthropological texts examine contemporary Muslim women’s practices in order to question our own scholarship’s Western liberal assumptions about freedom, autonomy, and what it means to be a modern woman. The course aspires to teach students the various ways Muslim women have constructed and lived their religious tradition.


The Roman state developed one of the earliest complex legal systems. They excelled especially in creating a formal judicial system and a detailed framework for civil law. The resulting system of law that emerged forms the basis of most European and American law and influenced many aspects of English Common Law. Through the activities and involvement of these countries with other peoples and nations Roman law had a considerable impact on legal systems of non-Western countries as well.For example, in a South African court, reference is often made to the Digest of Justinian because their legal system is strongly based on Roman law that was brought to South Africa through the Dutch. In this way, therefore, as Brent Shaw says, “Roman politicians, magistrates, and jurists developed many of the fundamental legal principles that are basic to a majority of the formal legal systems in the world today.” This course, therefore, is shaped to provide exposure to the major areas of Roman law. We will begin with consideration of the constitutional law of Rome and how the legal system worked. We will then turn to consider the major categories of the law: the law of persons, the law of property and ownership, the law of succession, contracts and delicts. Our goal will be to understand how the law functioned and the means by which the law was applied in daily life.

Promotion of Dr. Leanne Bablitz to Full Professor

Congratulations to Dr Leanne Bablitz who has just heard from the Interim President of UBC that she has been promoted to the rank of Full Professor, with effect from July 1 2016!


Akkadian is the ancient language of Mesopotamia within the Semitic language family. First finding prominence under Sargon of Akkad (late 3rd millennium BCE), Akkadian became dominant in Mesopotamia in the 2nd and early 1st millennia BCE, for much of which it was also the diplomatic language of the whole Ancient Near East. Written with an intricate system of cuneiform (wedge shapes in clay), we find myths of Marduk, Ishtar and the Babylonian pantheon, epics of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis and the ancient Flood, the so-called “laws” of Hammurabi, the military campaign records and propaganda of Assyrian kings, business accounts recording the sale of slaves, the adoption of children, and much more. This course will explore the basics of the language – grammar, vocabulary, syntax and a small amount of work in the cuneiform writing system. Previous work in a Semitic language (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, etc.) is an asset, but not required.


For all of its accounts of angels and miracles, the Bible features a staggering number of texts that deal with “real life,” including literature that deals with sex, deceit, and murder. Most of these texts never make it into a synagogue or church sermon, though some of them are persistently (mis-)used to justify the oppression and/or exclusion of women and LGBTQ individuals. Together we will probe these texts within their own ancient contexts, emerging both with a deeper appreciation of the Bible’s “dark side” and with a more sophisticated sense as to what these texts might have meant to their original audiences


This course is an introduction to the history of Rome’s military.  The course begins with an examination of Rome’s military development through the republican period and then turns to examine the reforms made to the army to facilitate its role in controlling the vast empire of the Imperial period.  Specific topics which are examined include; recruitment and training, strategy, discipline, daily life, family life, law, reality of battle, mutiny and unrest, policing, Praetorian Guard, emperors’ relationship with the army, navy, logistics, engineering, civilian building, and veterans.



In this seminar we will consider the ways in which the ancient city of Pompeii advances our knowledge of various aspects of Roman history and culture.  Topics which may be examined (depending on the interests of the students) include prostitution, gardening, politics, law, space utilization – both public and private, religion, art, death and burial, shopping, regional economics, government, social stratification, water utilization, bathing, hygiene, entertainment, banking and loans, gender, and daily life


This course explores the art and architecture of the Greek world from about 7000 to 30 BCE.  We’ll begin with the first farmers of the Neolithic and the trace the rise of Mycenae, Knossos and other legendary palaces of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations.  We then examine the emergence of the Greek city states, focusing on the great Panhellenic sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi and, of course, Athens and the famous monuments of its Akropolis and Agora that embody the rise of the world’s first democracy.  We’ll end with the spread of Greek art and architecture eastward with the conquests of Alexander the Great and the powerful Hellenistic kingdoms of his successors.  In each case we’ll consider the social, political, economic and ideological context of Greek material culture, its relationship to identities and the impacts of interactions with other cultures.  We’ll also consider the legacy and reception of Greek art and architecture in the modern world, as well as issues and controversies surrounding the recovery, curation, ownership and interpretation of particular artifacts, buildings and sites (e.g., the so-called Elgin marbles


CLST 332: Roman Art & Architecture

The social, cultural, political, and visual history of Roman art from the eighth century BCE to the fourth century CE.  Topics include the power of images to shape society; identity construction; cultural exchanges and borrowings across the ancient world; the impact of the Roman Empire on local visual traditions; and the complex relationships between subject and representation.

Thomas Schneider appointed Advisor to the President at Quest University

Thomas Schneider has been appointed Advisor to the President at Quest University Canada, with a starting date of August 1, 2016. He will assume that role on a part-time basis in 2016/7. His responsibility will be to establish formal relations between UBC and Quest University and to provide support for a number of additional academic and strategic initiatives.

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