REL 226 Fall 2014 New Religions in North America

Cross Listed as AMST226
This course explores contemporary North America religions from a historical, sociological, and philosophical perspective. We will examine the historical and contemporary experiences of America's ever-expanding religious diversity, prominently featuring the voices of those traditionally excluded from older, Protestant-informed accounts of American religion. The focus of the course will be the exploration of the ever-expanding variety of new religions in North America, challenging students to engage the numerous cultural, philosophical, and methodological issues involved with the study of marginal religions. New religions often highlight cultural anxieties, e.g. loss of identity in contemporary secular societies, responses to new technologies, changing gender roles, globalization, etc. The study of new religions becomes, then, a closer, reflexive examination of contemporary American culture and its underlying tensions. For example, the Raƫlian Movement claims to have cloned the first human. Wicca, on the other hand, offers critiques of environmental depredation and traditional gender roles. In sum, we will explore the historical roots of the current boom in new religions, detail contemporary issues, and outline the possible forms new and emerging religions may assume in the coming years. This course will also have a website dedicated to the exploration of new religions, providing links to interesting sites, basic resources, and student essays/projects.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on the basis of their writing and presentation projects, three 5- to 7-page essays, along with their thoughtful discussion of the key issues raised in the course
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Prerequisites: none; open to all
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: AMST Space and Place Electives, REL North American Religions Courses
Enrollment Limit: 30
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 1739
REL 226 - 01 (F) LEC New Religions in North America Division 2: Social Studies Cancelled 1739
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