Graduate Courses

Fall 2015 / Spring 2015

Fall 2015

REL-R 531 STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY / Topic: Fasting the Body, Feeding the Soul: Interpretations of Asceticism

Instructor:Michelson, P
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: TR 9:30a-10:45a
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-R 300

One of the most common features of religious practice around the world is asceticism, a way of life premised on abstinence from physical pleasure. But why do people do this, even if only on designated holy days? Why do they fast from food, refrain from sex, punish their bodies, and deny their biological impulses? Is it to draw closer to God? To prepare for the transition into death? To belong to a community that requires self-sacrifice? And what motivates this behavior? Is it a command from God? Is it a psychological response to our impending physical annihilation? Or is it a demand placed upon all of us by the needs of society and culture for uniformity? This course examines the ways in which modern scholars have tried to answer these questions through a close reading of texts that seek to understand the meaning of asceticism.

REL-R 532 STUDIES OF RELIGION IN AMERICAN CULTURE / Topic: Religion, Illness, and Healing

Instructor: Brown, C
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: MW 11:15a-12:30p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-c 402 and AMST-G 620

Is illness good or evil? Can religion be good or bad for your health? How should healthcare providers and administrators respond to the religious beliefs of patients and their families? What ethical and legal questions arise when spiritual healing is integrated with (or replaces) conventional healthcare? Does inclusion of spiritual healing in public schools violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution? Does commercialization of spiritual healing make the practices less authentic—or less religious? This course will explore these and other questions surrounding religion, illness, and healing in America.

We will emphasize Christian beliefs and practices (e.g. valorization of suffering or prayer for divine healing) and forms of complementary and alternative medicine connected with religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, or Western metaphysical spirituality (e.g. yoga, martial arts, mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and anticancer diets).

REL-R 532 STUDIES OF RELIGION IN AMERICAN CULTURE / Topic: Zora Neale Hurston

Instructor: Harriss, C
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: MW 9:30a-10:45a
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-C 401

This course considers the religious and literary legacies of the iconoclastic twentieth-century novelist, anthropologist, and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston. Following some biographical and contextual considerations we’ll read closely in her anthropological fieldwork and collections of folklore (including The Sanctified Church, Mules and Men, Tell My Horse) before turning to selected dramatic and literary work (including Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Moses, Man of the Mountain) and a concluding assessment of her complicated legacies. We’ll pay special attention to the religious dynamics of Hurston’s writing, including work on black churches and preaching, voodoo, Moses and conjure, and her influence on the origins of womanist theology and ethics in the Christian tradition.

REL-R 551 RELIGIONS OF SOUTH ASIA / TOPIC: Religion and Literature in Asia: Medieval Devotional Literature of India

Instructor: Manring, R
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: TR 1:00p-2:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-D 375, INST-I 571

The devotional literatures of India have remained popular for centuries. Cutting across religious boundaries, from brief lyrical poems to longer allegories, the material presents us with a wide range of views of the Divine, and can help us to appreciate the richness and diversity of Indian civilization and culture. We’ll read works by such writers as Antal (South Indian woman poet); Kabir (from North India; his followers still can’t agree on whether he was Muslim or Hindu!); Mirabai (Rajasthani princess-devotee of Krishna); Jayadeva (whose composition on the love between Radha and Krishna scandalized some); and others, and look at contemporary treatments of these writers and of devotion. Students interested in a particular medieval devotional author (whether or not s/he is officially on the syllabus) will have the opportunity to pursue that interest. Other resources we’ll use include: recorded versions of many of these pieces, devotional films, contemporary Bollywood (Hindi popular cinema). As we study Indian esthetic theory and the various devotional traditions, students will participate in classroom discussions designed to assist them to complete a series of increasingly complex assignments, culminating in a final paper exploring some of the questions the devotional literature raises.

REL-R 552 STUDIES IN BUDDHISM / Topic: Embodying Nirvana

Instructor: Nance, R
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: TR 4:00p-5:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 433

When beings become Buddhas, what happens? What does it mean to be a Buddha? What is lost in attaining awakening, and what is gained? How is nirvana embodied? The nature of the end point of the Buddhist path as attainable and attained by sentient beings has long been an object of controversy among Buddhists. Some representatives of the tradition hold that Buddhas are simply human beings who are no longer afflicted by lust, hatred, and delusion; others portray Buddhas in non-human (or super-human) terms, as beings who simultaneously possess multiple embodiments, are omniscient, can disappear and reappear at will, speak multiple languages at the same time, and emanate whole universes without breaking a sweat. This course addresses the divergent ways in which Buddhists have understood the figure of the Buddha and the nature of Buddhahood. We will read a number of primary texts in translation (together with several secondary studies), and will explore a number of interrelated topics: Buddhas as human and/or superhuman; Buddhas as moral exemplars and/or moral exceptions; the notion of a Buddha’s “skill in means” and its range of applicability; the vexed question of whether a Buddha can have thoughts and intentions; a Buddha’s multiple bodies and their characteristics; the controversy over “Buddha nature” as metaphysical and/or soteriological postulate; the occasionally divergent emphases of narrative and doctrinal texts; and the question of whether -- and what -- historical conclusions regarding Buddhist traditions might justifiably be drawn from the extant data. We’ll be concentrating principally (although not exclusively) on Indian Buddhist materials, though I will welcome course contributions that draw from other Buddhist traditions of reflection and practice.

REL-R 554 RELIGIONS OF EAST ASIA / Topic: Reading in Confucianism

Instructor: Ing, M
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: MW 1:00p-2:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 460

This course will engage in a close reading of several early Chinese texts for the sake of thinking through questions such as: From the perspectives of these texts, what kinds of meaningful things are beyond our power to control? To what degree are we able to determine our own longevity, fortune, social status, and happiness? To what degree are these things susceptible to forces beyond our control? Who or what controls our life span and our contentment in life? Is it forces beyond the human realm; and if so, to what degree are these forces knowable, mutable, and moral? We will explore these questions and more from the perspectives of several Chinese texts including the Kongzi Jiayu, the Yantielun, and more. This course is discussion oriented. Previous coursework on Chinese philosophy, history, or religion is strongly recommended. All readings are in English, with the possibility of an extra session for those who read classical Chinese.

REL-R 571 STUDIES IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS / Topic: God Species

Instructor: Sideris, L
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: T 1:25p-3:40p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-D 430

“We are as gods, and we’d better get good at it,” writes American environmentalist Stewart Brand. For many, this godlike portrait of humans captures the essence of the Anthropocene, or the Age of the Human. The term Anthropocene was first used by chemist Paul Crutzen in 2000 to suggest a new geological epoch in which humans have acquired geophysical agency to reshape the planet on an unprecedented scale. Proponents of the “good” Anthropocene are optimistic that human ingenuity, smart technology, and new forms of conservation will bring skillful management of nature and reduced human impacts. Others worry about the hubris and techno-optimism that attends these visions of the future. This course will examine arguments from religious thinkers, philosophers, scientists, environmentalists, and bioethicists about the way in which Anthropocene transformations impact our frameworks of meaning and value, and alter humans’ relationship with nature and with divinity. We will consider how acquiring god-like agency changes our understanding of ethical decision-making and our perception of human limits and moral boundaries. Anthropocene debates have great relevance for ethics and religion, and specifically for questions of human dominion or stewardship of other beings. Course topics will likely include Anthropocene perspectives on: climate change and geoengineering, “de-extinction” and “re-wilding” programs, social justice, wilderness preservation, animal studies, bioethics, and biopolitics. We will also consider the relationship of Anthropocene discourse to ethical and affective dispositions such as hope, restraint and prudence, and wonder and awe.

REL-R 571 STUDIES IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS / TOPIC: Religion, Virtue and the Good Life

Instructor: Swan Tuite, J
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: MW 11:15a-12:30p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-D 430

What is the relevance of ancient discussions of character and the good life to contemporary ethical and political reflection? Starting with the publication of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, an influential movement in philosophical and religious ethics has developed that advocates making the study of character, virtue, culture, and tradition central in ethics, and arguably politics as well. While originally focused on “retrieving” pre-modern notions of virtue from ancient Western philosophy, later proponents of this movement have attended to similar concerns in Christian and Confucian traditions, modern Western figures such as Hume, Kant, Nietszche, and Dewey, democratic writers such as Walt Whitman, and contemporary versions of a feminist ethics of care. Part of what makes virtue ethics fascinating is the way its champions range across personal and historical narrative, philosophical argument, cultural criticism, religious polemic, and political debate. This course will partially survey this varied landscape, noting both high and low points. Main topics of debate will include: divergent assessments of the moral resources of the modern West; the relations of “human nature,” tradition, and ethics; whether or not there might be a single, universal list of the most important virtues and vices; advantages and disadvantages for ethics of focusing on character and virtue rather than rights, duties, and consequences; whether aristocratic and patriarchal accounts of the good life can be made congruent with modern commitments to democracy and the equal dignity of women and men. As a seminar the course will emphasize discussion. Writing assignments will range from short response papers to a longer final paper on a topic of each student’s choice.

REL-R 662 CROSS CULTURAL STUDIES OF RELIGION / TOPIC: Death

Instructor: Ing, M
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: M 3:35p-5:35p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class open to graduate students only

This course will explore various disciplinary approaches to thinking about death (one’s own death and the death of other people). We will read and discuss scholarship about Jonestown (by David Chidester), the death of Captain Cook (by Gannath Obeyesekere), Japanese shrines to unborn children (by Bardwell Smith), 19th century Mormon attitudes toward death (by Samuel Brown), death understood as an analytic philosopher (by Shelly Kagan), life and death in post-apocolyptic America (by Cormac McCarthy), and other topics. This will allow us to think through the study of death by scholars of literature, anthropology, history, philosophy, and religious studies.

REL-R 665 INTERPRETATIONS OF RELIGION

Instructor: Sullivan, W
Course Duration: 8/24/15 - 12/18/15
Day & Time: W 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class open to graduate students only

What is religion? What does it mean to interpret religion? Broadly conceived, this is a conversation that stretches over time and space. This class is not a survey or a methods course: the goal is not to introduce you comprehensively to the study of religion or equip you with a toolkit of ideas and methods. Nor is it intended to enable you to identify the “best” theory of religion or to learn the decisive reasons for rejecting most of the ambitious theories from the past. It is instead an invitation to think deeply about what we mean by religion through thoughtful encounters with some contemporary theorists of religion with particular attention to the legal and political structuring of religion.

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Spring 2015

REL-R 511 RELIGIONS OF ANCIENT ISRAEL / TOPIC: The Bible and Beyond - Reading Early Jewish Literature

Instructor: Mroczek, E.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time:M 3:35p-6:05p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 430 and JSTU-J 403

The biblical story of King David is like a blockbuster movie, complete with sex, lies, murder, betrayal, and a dysfunctional family. But in Jewish tradition, King David also became a singer of Psalms, a prophet, a perfect model for living, and finally an angelic heavenly being. How did this happen? Why was this character so exciting for ancient readers, and why does he still capture our imagination? In this class, we explore the biblical stories about King David and their afterlife in later literature, from the Dead Sea Scrolls through Rabbinic and mystical texts. We will discuss the emergence of biblical texts and explore their shifting meanings for communities of readers over time, including our own modern context.

The class requires some reading knowledge of Hebrew, as we will read some passages together in the original, but your Hebrew doesn’t have to be great. The course will take different reading levels into account.

REL-R 521 STUDIES IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY / TOPIC: Paul and His Influence in Early Christianity

Instructor: Schott, J.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: TR 2:30p-3:45p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 321

Paul of Tarsus is the most important human figure in the history of Christianity. This course investigates the man and the myth through a historical study of Paul’s own letters and the later writings about him. We begin with a survey of Paul’s letters, turn to the social and cultural history of Pauline congregations, and then look at Paul’s ancient and modern legacy. Topics include Paul’s moral teaching, including areas of controversy.

REL-R 531 STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY / TOPIC: Right Belief: a History of Orthodox Christianity

Instructor: Michelson, P.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: TR 9:30a-10:45a
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 355

This course offers an in-depth study of modern Orthodox Christianity, the second largest Christian denomination in the world. Students will explore the various experiences of Orthodox believers, and the ways they interprete those experiences, in the context of religious rivalry, war, revolution, and oppression. Here we will see a faith community confront Antichrist and atheists, heretics and heathens, radicals and revolutionaries, all in an effort to defeat the “synagogue of Satan” and realize the Kingdom of God.

REL-R 532 STUDIES OF RELIGION IN AMERICAN CULTURE / TOPIC: American Religious Historical Fiction

Instructor: Harriss, C.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: MW 9:30a-10:45a
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-C 401

What is the relationship between fictional and historical narrative? Why do fiction writers work in historical modes? Why do historians frequently turn to fiction as primary sources? Why have literary critics become historians? How does the modifier “religious” change our expectations about fiction and/or history? How do we negotiate competing truth claims among religion, history, and fiction? What standards should we invoke in our reading and assessment of works of fiction as sources and statements, stories and insights, and what happens when we find religious, historical, and literary standards at odds with one another?

This course takes up these religious, literary, and historical questions (and more) with a specific focus on the issue of slavery in American narrative fiction. Selected historical and theoretical readings will supplement close engagement with slave narratives and The Book of Mormon—along with novels by Stowe, Eastman, Twain, Styron, Haley, and McBride.

REL-R 532 STUDIES OF RELIGION IN AMERICAN CULTURE / TOPIC: Evangelical America

Instructor: Brown, C.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: MW 11:15a-12:30p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-C 330

From the Great Awakening to the 2012 presidential campaigns, evangelicals—and in the last century Pentecostal and Charismatic movements within evangelicalism—have played a critical role in shaping American cultural, social, and political institutions. Who are evangelicals? What do they believe, and how do they behave? Should non-evangelicals be worried about them?

This course explores the causes, nature, and implications of evangelical influence through the lenses of history, literature, and religious and cultural studies. Assignments and classroom activities incorporate a wide variety of cultural artifacts, including fiction, poetry, autobiography, music, television, film, ethnography, and food. The course is organized thematically and chronologically. Topics include: religious revivals and reform; separation of church and state; race and gender; Billy Graham; science, evolution, creationism, and Intelligent Design; Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity; hymns, Contemporary Christian Music, and Holy Hip Hop; politics; Catholicism; mass media and megachurches; apocalypticism; and globalization. We will read two novels: Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps (1896) [the inspiration for WWJD: “What Would Jesus Do?”] and Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’s Left Behind (1995).

REL-R 541 STUDIES IN THE JEWISH TRADITION / TOPIC: Jewish Critics of Zionism

Instructor: Magid, S.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: W 5:00p-7:00p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-R 300 and JSTU-J 303

In the past fifty years, Zionism has risen to become a central component of Judaism and anti-Zionism has been relegated to those considered the enemy of the State of Israel. Many do not know that some of the most vehement critiques of Zionism came not from the enemies of the state but from Zionists themselves. In this course we will read and examine the Jewish critics of Zionism from the early twentieth century to the present. We will read from the works of Kaufmann Kohler, rector of Hebrew Union College, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, Gershom Scholem, Bernard Lazare, Hans Kohn, Simon Rawidowicz, The American Council of Judaism, Yeshayahu Leibowiyz, Jacqueline Rose, Peter Beinart, and Judith Butler. We will also read some of the recent Israeli post-Zionist debates. This course is intended to give the student a much more complex and multifaceted view of Zionism as an idea and as an ostensible solution to the Jewish question.

REL-R 551 BOLLYWOOD AND BEYOND

Instructor: Manring, R.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: R 2:30p-5:00p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 335
Students will be required to watch weekly films. A film screening on Tuesday from 6:00-9:00pm will be available. Students may opt to watch the required assigned films on their own before lecture.

The course gives students a nice introduction to cinema in the Indian subcontinent using a theoretical framework for understanding the ways religion plays out in both popular and less commercial films.

Each week we will watch and discuss, in detail, one film. Our broad topics include partition, gender, myth, fundamentalism, and the diaspora. We will come to know a range of views on religion and its role in the lives of South Asians through film produced in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, our classroom discussions, and our reading of critical articles for each film. The films include mythologicals, social commentary, and Bollywood blockbusters, all of which have a great deal to tell us about religion, and life in general, in South Asia. No prerequisites or prior knowledge of South Asia needed.

REL-R 553 STUDIES IN ISLAM / TOPIC: The Modern Muslim Experience: Muslim Fiction and the Depiction of Islam in the Contemporary World

Instructor: Jaques, K.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: TR 1:00p-2:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 300

Using topics as diverse as suicide bombing, infidelity, punk rock, and dragons, Muslim authors use novels to explore the complexity of religion in the contemporary world. This course will explore contemporary Muslim religious experiences through fiction written by Muslim authors. By using genres as diverse as science fiction, romance, historical fiction, spy thrillers, and fantasy the course will examine how Muslim authors have used fiction to represent different religious ideas and worldviews in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Texts include Naguib Mahfouz, Children of the Alley; Leila Aboulela, Minaret; Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red; Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner; Yasmina Khadra, The Attack; Monica Ali, Brick Lane: A Novel; Pramoedya Toer, The Girl from the Coast; Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist; and Michael Muhammad Knight, Osama Van Halen.

Requirements: Attendance is mandatory, weekly book reviews, in-class discussion, and a final research-length paper.

REL-R 554 RELIGIONS OF EAST ASIA / TOPIC: Early Chinese Thought

Instructor: Stalnaker, A.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: MW 4:00p-5:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 374

This course provides an introduction to the early development of Chinese thought, from the oracle bone divination of the Shang Dynasty to the religious, ethical, and political theories of classical Confucianism, Mohism, and Daoism, through the unification of China in 221 BCE. We will concentrate on early debates over human nature and the best practices of self-cultivation, the general nature of the cosmos and the human role in it, and the proper ordering of society. The different positions articulated by these early Chinese figures greatly influenced later Chinese intellectual and social history, including the development of Buddhism, and influenced developments in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam as well. Thus, understanding these early debates is an important stepping-stone for understanding East Asian thought and culture generally. No knowledge of classical Chinese is required. Readings are in English translation.

REL-R 571 STUDIES IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS / TOPIC: Psychiatric Ethics

Instructor: Swan Tuite, J.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: MW 11:15a-12:30p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-D 430

Ethical issues are generally under theorized within psychiatric spaces. When psychiatric practices are subjected to ethical examination, the analysis is frequently uneven; i.e., there tends to be much more consideration of “hard cases” (e.g., involuntary commitments) than more common ethical dilemmas associated with psychiatric practice such as physician-patient relations. While many observers suggest that with the de-stigmatization of mental illness in western life many of the ethical issues in psychiatric care will be resolved through the application of standard ethical models, others argue that the concerns raised by psychiatry call for a re-examination of these standard ethical models. This course begins with a survey of practical ethical problems raised by psychiatric practice before turning to efforts to re-think the norms and safeguards within psychiatric practice. Likely topics include but not limited to (1) informed consent and decisional-impairment, (2) cognitive rehabilitative therapies and belief-formation, (3) privacy and duty to protect, (4) just distribution of psychiatric services, (5) pharmacological intervention/enhancement debates, (6) psychiatric care for children, and, finally, (7) psychiatric classification, race and gender. Readings are interdisciplinary but emphasize the contributions of religious studies scholarship especially religious ethics to the growing literature in psychiatric ethics.

REL-R 661 RELIGION AND SOCIAL CRITICISM / TOPIC: Post-Colonial Theory and Religion

Instructor: Schott, J.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: T 4:00p-6:15p
Credit Hours: 3

This course will introduce major trajectories in post-colonial theory and consider a variety of post-colonial critiques and analyses of religion(s) and religious studies. All readings will be in English or English translation. The course will be run as a discussion-based seminar. Students will be required to offer 1-2 in-class presentations and will produce a final paper of approximately 20-30 pages.

REL-R 662 CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY OF RELIGION / TOPIC: Thinking Through Ritual

Instructor: Nance, R.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: M 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 3

This course focuses on ritual in theory and practice, exploring accounts of ritual articulated by anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, and historians of religion. What are the hallmarks of ritual? How should one think about the relation between ritual and other forms of practice? What insights might be gained by thinking through ritual as--or as against--play, theater, art, or practices we are tempted to call “sincere”? How might ritual aid--or undermine--social and political institutions, or one’s own self-image? What should we make of ritual (and) language; ritual (and) affect; ritual (and) thinking? How do representations of ritual transform the rituals they represent? Who is qualified to articulate what rituals are and how they work? And in what terms may such articulation be responsibly attempted by scholars? Readings may include texts by Austin, Bateson, Bell, Bloch, Bynum, Douglas, Eliade, Geertz, Goffman, Grimes, Ing, Jennings, Kertzer, Rappaport, Schechner, Seligman, Smith, Staal, Tambiah, and Turner.

AMST-G 697 RACE, RELIGION, AND EMPIRE IN THE AMERICAS

Instructor: Selka, S.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: W 4:00p-7:00p
Credit Hours: 3

This course explores the intersection of race, religion and empire in the Americas from a transnational perspective. In it we will read key texts that define the “transnational turn,” particularly in relation to ideas about neoliberalism and American empire. More specifically, the course focuses on how representations and practices that we understand as race and religion emerge at the nexus of flows between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean. Particular topics through which we will explore these issues include US interventions in the Americas, neoliberalism and the Washington consensus, tourism development, and the representation and practice of African diaspora religions.

REL-R 762 CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY OF RELIGION / TOPIC: Thinking Through Ritual

Instructor: Nance, R.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: M 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 3

This course focuses on ritual in theory and practice, exploring accounts of ritual articulated by anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, and historians of religion. What are the hallmarks of ritual? How should one think about the relation between ritual and other forms of practice? What insights might be gained by thinking through ritual as--or as against--play, theater, art, or practices we are tempted to call “sincere”? How might ritual aid--or undermine--social and political institutions, or one’s own self-image? What should we make of ritual (and) language; ritual (and) affect; ritual (and) thinking? How do representations of ritual transform the rituals they represent? Who is qualified to articulate what rituals are and how they work? And in what terms may such articulation be responsibly attempted by scholars? Readings may include texts by Austin, Bateson, Bell, Bloch, Bynum, Douglas, Eliade, Geertz, Goffman, Grimes, Ing, Jennings, Kertzer, Rappaport, Schechner, Seligman, Smith, Staal, Tambiah, and Turner.

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