The Sophomore Tutorial (Rel. 97) is a required seminar for all sophomores and new junior concentrators. Its purpose is to introduce students to different methods and theories in the Study of Religion. The course covers major themes and arguments that have defined the field—including, for example, arguments about the nature of religion, ritual, myth, scripture and culture. The sophomore tutorial will also help students narrow their range of interests, preparing them for more in-depth work in their junior and senior years. By the end of the sophomore year, students will have been introduced to the field and to the analytical tools scholars use to interpret religious phenomena.

In the sophomore tutorial students will have opportunities to raise general questions and test ideas in a congenial, collaborative atmosphere. Responsibility for leading discussion is shared. The tutorial also helps to develop an esprit de corps among new members of the concentration.

Writing is a key component of work in the sophomore tutorial; students submit short and medium-length papers and receive detailed feedback on style and content. Of course, the pursuit of clear expository writing will continue in later years, but the process begins in earnest sophomore year. Students should devote their full energies to keeping up with readings and assignments, and they should participate actively in discussions.