WMNST 137 explores the history of different conceptions of gender and sexuality as they are understood within major religions (e.g. Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, indigenous spiritual systems). The course emphasizes modern and contemporary contexts of gender/religion debates, introducing feminist historical methods in order to trace the origins and trajectories of today’s controversies. Students should expect to gain a comparative historical perspective on at least three theological traditions. Possible topics include: history of gender and religious practices; femininities and masculinities in a spiritual context; the flesh and the spiritual body; and sexuality, and both ethical and theological approaches to theories of gender, feminism, and identity. We will explore ways in which religious teachings, in both historical and contemporary contexts, inform secular understandings of gender and the ways in which contemporary conceptions of gender inform religious practice. While religion plays a crucial role in defining sex and gender norms, changing sex and gender norms can pressure the doctrine, discourses, practices and organizational structures of faith institutions, some established centuries or millennia ago. The course considers not only the roles of women and men, or constructions of masculinity and femininity, but also the impacts of non-binary genders and sexualities that may be acceptable (even celebrated) in some religions and shunned in others. We will address urgent and perennial questions from different religious perspectives: what is the spiritual meaning of sexuality? Is sexuality an obstacle or a vehicle for spiritual fulfillment? Who are the voices of authority who set the sacred rules on sexuality and who gets to enforce them? How do we (or should we) balance the tensions of non-aligned government and religious concerns, as in contemporary debates around same-sex marriage; abortion and reproductive rights; legal definitions of “family”; the Muslim veil in secular contexts; divorce; trans rights; attitudes toward the body; gender mutilation and/or sex-reassignment surgery; sexual violence towards women, gay, and trans individuals around the world; child and sexual abuse among the clergy; and religious leadership and inclusion. The course also touches on the impacts of colonialism, globalization, and migration on gender and sexuality.