Living Religion: The Study of Religion in Everyday Life
When studying religions, people generally turn to studying scriptures, the life and teachings of the religion’s founder, and the fundamental doctrines of the religion. What this approach does not allow us to understand, however, is the way that such religious traditions actually manifest themselves in the world. This course introduces students to an alternative approach to studying religion, by exploring the way these religions are lived and experienced by individuals and communities in a variety of contexts. We will see how religion intersects with people’s lived experiences of gender, race, class, sexuality, and broader socio-cultural and political contexts. We will explore this approach to religion through an engagement with ethnography (the qualitative research method in the social-sciences generally described as “participant-observation”). Students will not only learn about the theory and practice of this methodology, but will also conduct their own ethnographic research project over the course of the semester. This will involve: designing a feasible project and research question, selecting local research sites and subjects, taking field-notes and conducting interviews, and finally analyzing data and writing an ethnographic essay.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: regular reading responses, semester-long research project with frequent small assignments building up to the final product (class presentation and approximately 10-page paper)
Enrollment Preference: first-year students and sophomores
Distributions: Division II;
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses