John Portmann headshot

John E. Portmann

Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Religious Studies
Office location and address
Gibson Hall, S-435
1540 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Bachelor of Arts (BA), Yale College
Master of Philosophy (MPHIL), Cambridge University
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Virginia
RELC 3056: In Defense of Sin
Credits: 3
Critical analysis of Ten Commandments, seven deadly sins, and shifting prominence of sin in Judaism and Christianity
RELG 3450: The Emotions
Credits: 3
Exploration of how what we feel colors what we believe, what we claim to know. What are human emotions and why do we have them? Philosophers, psychiatrists, neurologists and religious thinkers disagree. We will analyze these disagreements, along with the question of how the emotions can be controlled or educated. We will focus on William James, who influentially argued that for most believers, religious experience is first and foremost emotional.
RELG 3485: Moral Leadership
Credits: 3
This course introduces students to the moral frameworks of Aristotle, Maimonides, Machiavelli, and Jeff McMahon and then examines pressing moral issues in contemporary America.
RELC 4044: Religion and the American Courts
Credits: 3
What is the nature of religion and its role in American society? This seminar will explore the limits of spiritual convictions in a liberal democracy which guarantees religious freedom. This course will examine: 1) the First Amendment; 2) legal methodology; and 3) the contemporary debate over whether citizens and public officials have a duty to refrain from making political and legal decisions on the basis of their religious beliefs.
RELG 4500: Majors Seminar
Credits: 3
Introduces the study of religion as an interdisciplinary subject, utilizing methods in history of religions, theology, sociology, depth psychology, and literary criticism. The seminars are thematic and topics will vary according to the design of the instructor. Limited to twenty religious studies majors.
RELC 4610: Sex and Morality
Credits: 3
A theological overview of Jewish and Christian reflection on proper sexual conduct in the United States, with specific emphasis on pre-marital sex, adoption, abortion, gay marriage, and the teaching of sex education in public schools.
RELS 8998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
RELS 8999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
RELS 9998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
RELS 9999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.