Syllabus

College of Charleston
Department of Religious Studies
Fall 2009

RELS 120: RELIGION, ART, AND CULTURE
RELIGION AND POPULAR CULTURE IN AMERICA
MWF; ECTR 103

Instructor: Dr. Elijah Siegler
Email: sieglere@cofc.edu Office phone: 953-3910
Office: 4 Glebe St. Entryway C
Office Hours: Wed and Fri 3-4, Tues and Thurs 9-10, or by appointment

This course examines religion through the lens of popular culture, and popular culture through the lens of religion. Focusing on examples from contemporary North America, including novels, music, TV drama, the internet, and sports, this course will help students become critical consumers of popular culture. Students will analyze, appreciate, and articulate deeper meanings in mass forms of entertainment.

The four required texts are available at the C of C and the University bookstores:

Sacred Matters (SM) ISBN: 1595584374

Religion and Popular Culture in America, Rev. Ed  (RPCA) ISBN: 0520246896
(Note: Each chapter has related discussion questions on pp. 297-303. Be prepared to discuss these in class. These are marked in the schedule with an “*”.)

Small Screen, Big Picture: Television and Lived Religion (SSBP) ISBN: 1602581851

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (3SPE) ISBN: 0679736662

There are also readings on Electronic Reserve online at ereserve.cofc.edu under my name (Siegler, Elijah). You will need the password, which will be provided in class. You should print out these readings. Please bring the relevant book and/or printout to class.

Course Requirements:
* Participation and attendance including posting on the blog: 5%
(The blog is at rels120.edublogs.org; please check it 1-2/times week.)
*One 3-4 pp. paper due in class September 28: 15%
* One 4-6 pp. paper due in class November 30: 20%
* Three out of four “surprise” quizzes, which will be announced the class before. (The lowest quiz will be dropped.): 3 x 5% =15%
* A midterm exam on October 9: 20%
* A final exam during exam period: 25%

We will review and discuss each assignment before it is due. There will also be various opportunities to gain bonus marks by attending relevant lectures and writing short papers about them.
All work must be original and all sources correctly cited. The university’s honor code will be strictly enforced. Students can find a complete version of the Honor Code and all related processes in the Student Handbook, available online.

Grading Scale: A: 93-100; A-: 90-92; B+: 87-89; B: 83-86; B-: 80-82; C+: 77-79; C: 73-76; C-: 70-72; D+: 67-69; D: 63-66; D-: 61-62 F: 60 or below.

SCHEDULE OF CLASSES

ACT I: INTRODUCTION

Wed 8/26: What is this class about?

Fri 8/28: How do we define religion?
Read: Studyreligion.org; SM, xiii-xviii

Mon 8/31: How do we define popular culture?
Read: RPCA, 1-18 *

ACT II: HOW POPULAR CULTURE REPRESENTS RELIGION

Wed 9/2: Depicting Religion on TV: Why Mainstream Rules
Read: SSBP, 1-7, 24-41

Fri 9/4: Vernacular Catholicism in The West Wing
Read: SSBP, 99-123

Mon 9/7: Islam: The “Dangerous” Other
Read: SSBP, 153-170

Wed 9/9: The Oriental Monk: The “Mystic” Other
Read: RPCA, 25-43 *

Fri 9/11: Orientalism in Heroes
Read: SSBP, 289-317

ACT III: HOW RELIGION USES POPULAR CULTURE

Mon 9/14: How Megachurches Sell Religion
Read: RPCA, 139-152 *
Wed 9/16: Rapture Culture: Left Behind in America
Read: RPCA, 270-285 *

Fri 9/18: True Love Waits? Selling Christian Abstinence
Read: ER #1: Moslener

ACT IV: HOW POPULAR CULTURE CREATES THE RELIGIOUS

Mon 9/21: Fandom as Community: The Case of Star Trek
Read: RPCA, 159-171 *

Wed 9/23: The Internet as Community
Read: ER #2: Veidlinger; RPCA, 123-137 *

Fri 9/25: Fan Sites as Sites of Meaning: The Case of Lost
Read: SSBP, 319-341

Mon 9/28: American Rituals: The Case of Sports
Read: RPCA, 195-208 *
FIRST PAPER DUE IN CLASS

Wed 9/30: Southern Rituals: The Case of Barbecue
Read: ER #3: Roof

Fri 10/2: New Rituals: The Case of Burning Man
Read: ER# 4: Pike

FIRST INTERMISSION

Mon 10/5: Mid-term Review and Catch-Up Discussion

Wed 10/7: Mystery Screening #1

Fri 10/9: Midterm Exam

Monday10/12: FALL BREAK

ACT V: AMERICAN MYTHOLOGIES

Wed 10/14: Sacred Violence
Read: RPCA, 237-240 *; SM, 123-135

Fri 10/16: Deadwood and the Beginnings of America
Read: SSBP, 43-68
Mon 10/19: Disney’s America
Read: ER #5: Mazur/ Koda; SM, 8-12

Wed 10/21: American Gods: Celebrities
Read: SM, 63-84

Fri 10/23: More American Gods: Comic Book Superheroes
Special Guest Lecturer: Davin Turkewitz

ACT VI:  MORAL AND THEOLOGICAL DEBATE IN POPULAR CULTURE

Mon 10/26: Abortion in Battlestar Galactica
Read: SSBP, 201-231

Wed 10/28: Confession in Cop Shows
Read: ER #6: Siegler

Fri 10/30: Redemption in OZ
Read: SSBP, 401-426

Mon 11/2: Pluralism in The Simpsons
Read: ER #7: Dalton

SECOND INTERMISSION

Wed 11/4: Drugs and Weird Science
Read: SM 92-115

Fri 11/6: Mystery Screening #2
Read:  3SPE, 3-65

Mon 11/9:  Study Day: No Class
Read: 3SPE, 66-129

ACT VII: BLURRING THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN RELIGION AND POPULAR CULTURE

Wed 11/11:  The Sci-Fi Novel
Read: 3SPE, 130- 180; http://www.philipkdick.com/aa_biography.html

Fri 11/13: The Sci-Fi Novel Continued
Read: 3SPE, 181-230

Mon 11/16: Sacred Music: From the Blues to The Dead
Read: SM 23-42

Wed 11/18: Hip-Hop Culture
Read: ER #8: Sylvan; Recommended: RPCA, 252-266 *

Fri 11/20: Bruce Springsteen as American Prophet
Read: ER #9: McCarthy

Mon 11/23: Madonna as Liberation Theologian
Read: RPCA, 75-90 *

Thanksgiving Break

ACT VIII: CONCLUSIONS

Mon 11/30: Class Presentations
SECOND PAPER DUE IN CLASS

Wed 12/2: Class Presentations

Fri 12/4: Religion and Popular Culture in Dialogue
Read: RPCA, 288-295

Mon 12/7: Final Discussion and Exam Review

&&&
Note: Students with documented disabilities who have been approved to receive accommodation through SNAP should feel free to discuss this during office hours. For more information, contact Disability Services at 953-1431.

Help for writing papers
There are good resources from your very own Department of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston, on how to write a religious studies paper:

http://www.cofc.edu/~rels/research_resources.htm

The Center for Student Learning has writing labs and can arrange individual tutoring for this particular class:

http://www.cofc.edu/~csl/
953-5635

Leave a Reply

  Create an Edublogs Account or login to include your Website or link when commenting.

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.
Anti-Spam Image