REL 317 Fall 2014 Disenchantment, Modernity, and the Death of God

A great many theorists have argued that the defining feature of modernity is the departure of the supernatural. They often argue that magic, religion, and some sense of cosmic significance have been replaced by technology, calculation, and bureaucratic protocol. This course will be driven by one question: Are they right? Put differently: Do cities and computers generate their own type of magic? Is God in fact dead? Religion clearly has not vanished, but has it become less authentic? Does the dissolution of Christian ethics produce nihilism or the positive revaluation of values? Does capitalism turn everything into a commodity or does it commercialize wonder? Does modernity mean alienation from nature, a withering of social community, the end of art, and a rejection of history, or is it humankind's liberation from the dogmas of the past? Will science and reason ultimately sweep away belief in ghosts, angels, and demons, or will we always be haunted? Students will read the major theorists of secularization, modernization, and disenchantment and will conduct independent research projects on various modern attempts to revive magic and re-enchant the world. Students will be instructed in the use physical and digital archives for original primary text research. Possible topics for student exploration are vast and include: occult sciences and new religious movements such as the Golden Dawn, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Voodoo, Neo-paganism, Wicca; and various artistic movements including Symbolism and Surrealism--all of which promised to supply antidotes to the meaninglessness of the modern age. Authors to be read may include: Nietzsche, Novalis, Comte, Max Weber, Tonnies, Walter Benjamin, Bernard Stiegler.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: regular attendance and participation, short weekly reflection papers, and a 15- to 20-page research paper
Additional Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
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Prerequisites: not open to first year students
Enrollment Preference: Religion majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
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Enrollment Limit: 10
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 1765
REL 317 - 01 (F) SEM Disenchantment and Modernity Division 2: Social Studies Jason Josephson
MR 2:35 PM-3:50 PM Stetson 508 1765
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