Religion, Sexuality and Gender

In this concentration, students can explore the many ways that religious traditions have shaped and continue to shape intricate notions of gender and sexuality in the United States and throughout the world. Coursework in this area exposes students to a variety of scholarly approaches, including courses in women’s religious history, the history of gender and religious practices, cultural study of religion and masculinities, textual studies on religion, the body, and sexuality, and both ethical and theological approaches to theories of gender, feminism, and identity. Students choosing to focus on this concentration can elect to take courses on a variety of subjects, including: religion, sexuality, and celibacy; Buddhism and gender; gender and Jewish thought; history of women and religion in America; gender and sainthood in Christianity; gender, sexuality, and teenage rites of passage; and religion, feminism, and fertility. This concentration also prepares students well for graduate study in religion and gender studies.


All Religious Studies majors take the following core courses:

  1. Religion 170, Introduction to Religion; or Religion 171, Varieties of Religious Traditions
  2. Religion 395, Capstone Senior Majors Seminar in “Theories of Religion”

Concentrators choose 3 courses from their concentration’s list of approved courses as part of their degree credit total. They take 5 additional Religious Studies courses (in consultation with department adviser), and take 2 courses from Northwestern’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program for a total of 12 credits. Students have access to a full updated list each year posted on our departmental web site.

First-year (100-level) seminars do not count toward degree credit. All double counting policies apply.

Religion, Sexuality and Gender (RSG) Concentration Courses

  • 319 – Buddhism and Gender (Jacoby)
  • 332 – Gender and Jewish Thought (Zoloth)
  • 339 – Gender and Judaism (Suffrin)
  • 339 – Sex and Gender in early Judaism and Christianity (Balberg)
  • 342 – Christian Mystical Theology (Kieckhefer)
  • 344 – Christian Ethics (Traina)
  • 345 – The Idea of Sainthood in Christianity (Kieckhefer)
  • 349 – Religion, Feminism, and Fertility (Traina)
  • 359 – Islam, Gender, and Sexuality (Ingram)
  • 363—Topics in Women and Religion in America (Taylor)
  • 364 – Teenage Rites of Passage (Taylor)