REL 110
Religion in Everyday Life Spring 2022
Division II Writing Skills

Class Details

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: Format: seminar; Semester-long community-based field research. Regular in-class peer-review exercises.
Limit: 15
Expected: 10-12
Class#: 3681
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
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)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students and sophomores; students interested in Religious Studies
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
WS Notes: Students will learn a specific mode of qualitative/ethnographic writing through a semester-long field-based project. This involves many scaffolded assignments of field-based research and writing, for which they receive very regular feedback from the instructor, as well as extensive peer-review exercises. There will be a number of readings on writing style and technique, as well as class discussion and workshopping activities. The final essay will itself be developed in multiple steps.
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses

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