Religions of the World
Religious Studies 510 (Fall 2005)
Tuesday and Thursday
|Class Location||Haag Hall 314|
class schedule | coursework and evaluation | important note
There will be one assigned text per week, fourteen texts in total. Students will be expected to have read the entire text carefully, and to come to class well prepared to discuss issues raised by the author(s). This class will be conducted in seminar format; the readings for each week will be introduced by student presentations. Should the class size dictate, some students should be prepared to present more than one text; rather than a burden, this should be viewed as another opportunity to sharpen one's analytical and presentation skills. Rather than simply a précis of the work, students will be expected to discuss intelligently the issues and questions raised in the work by the author(s). This includes: (a) the major issues addressed by the author(s) and conclusions reached; (b) the theory and method(s) employed in the study; (c) a critical evaluation of the strengths and limitations of the work; and (d) the significant questions or issues which are raised by the study. As the course proceeds, special effort should be made to relate the theory, method, and data encountered between and among the different class texts. I highly recommend that every student prepare every week as though he or she is presenting the text for that class.
Introduction to the course
|August 30||Huston Smith
The World's Religions
Preliminary research proposals are due at the beginning of class today. See below for details.
|September 20||Jordan Paper
The Deities are Many: A Polytheistic Theology
|September 27||David Smith
Hinduism and Modernity
|October 4||Rita Gross,
Buddhism After Patriarchy
|October 11||Mircea Eliade
Patterns in Comparative Religion
|October 18||Steven M.
Cohen and Arnold M. Eisen
The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community
|October 25|| Yvonne Yazbeck
Haddad and John L. Esposito, eds.
Islam, Gender, and Social Change
First drafts of research papers are due in class.
The Barbarian Conversions: From Paganism to Christianity
|November 15||Michael P.
The Cult of the Virgin Mary: Psychological Origins
|November 29||Steven Sharot,
A Comparative Sociology of World Religions: Virtuosos, Priests, and Popular Religion
Class presentation of term research
Coursework and Evaluation
Students will be evaluated on (a) class participation, (b) their presentation(s) of weekly readings, and (c) an original research essay on a topic of their choice, but within the purview of the course. Class attendance is mandatory, and only excused absences arranged in advance with me will be permitted.
Note well that class participation is not the same as class attendance. In seminar courses such as this, simply reading the class material accounts for only a small percentage of the learning that takes place. Rather, the majority of learning occurs in the midst of class interaction, discussion, and often disgreement—with each other, with the text under consideration, and with the instructor. At the Ph.D. level, this interaction is particularly important, and the crucial thing to remember is: You don't have to be right all the time, but you do have to step up and at least risk being wrong. A good rule-of-thumb for class participation is this: At the end of the course, if I cannot honestly answer the question, "Did Student A actually read the texts?" your participation has been inadequate.
Essays must be written to conform to the style of a particular peer-reviewed, academic journal, to which such an essay might be submitted for consideration for publication. As such, students will be expected to identify which journal would be an appropriate venue for their paper and to employ that journal's length, documentation, research, and discourse protocols in the preparation of their papers. Since the ability to connect with particular scholarly discourses is essential to success in academic publishing and the progress of one's career path, I cannot overstate the importance of this aspect of the assignment. Students in my seminars have gone on to present papers written for class in national meetings of the American Academy of Religion and to publish revised versions of their papers in peer-reviewed journals.
|Final research papers are due at the end of class on December 6. Pay particular attention to this, since there will be no extensions granted under any but the most extreme circumstances and late papers will not be accepted. This is my last semester at UMKC, and I will be marking and returning term assignments before I leave for Canada the following week.|
Since the ability to plan and manage one's time is a crucial component of the professional academic's life, and since the only opportunity I have to offer feedback occurs if students turn in research drafts, I require that all students do so. There is a three-step process for this. (a) You must clear your topic with me and provide a written research proposal in class September 13. This proposal should be no more than 3 pages in length and include a general statement of the topic and its importance, a preliminary bibliography, and a one-paragraph description of your research method. Research proposals are to be submitted in hard copy. (b) First drafts are due in class on November 1. Turn them in on the disk provided in either Word or Rich Text Format. And (c), final papers will be submitted both in hard copy and on the disk with your draft(s); email submissions will be returned to the student unread.
Because the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Religious Studies is meant to be broadly comparative in nature, students are NOT permitted to choose research topics related to the subject their dissertation.
|A note about using the Internet. While students are permitted to use the Internet to conduct research, citation of the Internet in research papers is permissible only under the following conditions: (1) Primary research sources are Internet-based and only available online—for example, you are writing about the Internet. (2) Secondary research sources are available online; this includes newspaper articles accessed through Lexis-Nexis, online peer-reviewed journals, and full-text articles from peer-reviewed journals accessed through databases such as JSTOR and ATLA. (3) If secondary research sources are simply from Web sites, secondary print sources, whether scholarly or corroborative, must be used in the presentation and the research paper. For example, do not cite online versions of the Ante-Nicene Patristics; I expect you to go to the library and cite book, chapter, and page number(s). While the Internet is a tremendous boon to scholarship, it is also responsible for creating one of the laziest generations of students and scholars in the history of higher education. Failure to abide by these conditions will seriously affect the student's evaluation. If you are in any doubt about the acceptability of an Internet resource, do one or both of these: go offline, or see me for an evaluation of the source.|
Click here to see my grading scale, and here to see a written presentation rubric on which assessment is based.
Please note that I have a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Consequences can range from course failure (for undergraduate students) to dismissal from the academic program in which a student is enrolled (for graduate students). At the Ph.D. level there is simply no debate about this, and students are expected to know what constitutes plagiarism. If you are unclear about what plagiarism is, click here. Or, click here to see under what conditions I will exhibit leniency towards plagiarism.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City