Fall 2021 not offered
|Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate|
Religion can be defined through beliefs or traditions or texts, but it always takes physical form through ritual. Ritual is the one universal in religion, but the question of how to understand ritual is possibly the most contested question in the study of religion. Can a ritual be read like a text? How do symbols produce effects, and how should we understand these effects? What is performative speech and how does it work? How does ritual behavior reflect and shape social relationships? This course introduces students to the major approaches to the study of ritual. The readings draw heavily, but not exclusively, on anthropological approaches to ritual, both classic texts and recent innovative approaches focusing on language and embodiment. Students will pick a ritual that they are interested in and will attend that ritual several times over the semester, conducting practical fieldwork exercises and applying the theories we read in class. The assignments culminate in a paper in which students will be required to analyze "their" ritual using the theory we read together in class. For these assignments, students are encouraged to define ritual broadly and creatively. The goal of the class is to gain an understanding of theoretical approaches to ritual by applying these theories to the social world around them.
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|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ANTH)(CSCT)(RELI-MN)(RELI)(SISP-Anth Conc)(SISP-Reli Conc)
Arnold van Gennep, THE RITES OF PASSAGE
Victor Turner, THE FOREST OF SYMBOLS
Articles/Selections by Emile Durkheim, Clifford Geertz, J.Z. Smith, Ronald Grimes, E. Valentine Daniel, Talal Asad, Saba Mahmood, J.L. Austin, Michael Silverstein, Webb Keane and others
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Readings, class participation, practical exercises, one in-class presentation, two take home midterms. Exercises and midterms culminate into a final paper based on fieldwork (15-20 pp.)
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This course fulfills the "Method & Theory" requirement for the Religion Department major.
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