New Course Offering: Summer/Fall 2001
Cults, Sects, and New Religious Movements:
A Sociological Approach
|Sociology 300RG||Sociology 300RO/580O|
|Tuesday/Thursday: 6:00-8:30 p.m.
June 5 - July 26
|Tuesday/Thursday: 9:30-10:45 a.m.|
|Royall Hall 213||Haag Hall 302|
|Office Hours: T/Th 5:00-6:00 p.m.||Office Hours: T/Th 11:00-12:00 p.m.|
My website: http://c.faculty.umkc.edu/cowande
Heavens Gate Branch Davidians Hare Krishnas Solar Temple maybe a church group near you
Often called "cults by secular and religious media, many new religious movements are not really new at all. Some are sectarian variations of established religious traditions; others are syncretistic, combining elements of two or more traditions. Some are innovative; others are imported. What is clear is that they are not all the same. This course introduces the topic of new religious movements as a phenomenon in modern culture. Class topics will include: the problem of definition; methods of research and tools for analysis; class discussion of various new religious movements; possible guest presenters.
In the introduction to New Religious Movements as Global Cultures, Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe establish a baseline for the study of NRMs; i.e., "understanding must precede criticism" (1995:xiii). With this in mind, students can expect to experience: (a) a variety of methods for analysing and understanding new religious movements in society; sociological, historical, and textual; (b) an introduction to the broad spectrum of religious beliefs which exist (and flourish) outside the cultural mainstream; and (c) an introduction to some of the means by which dominant religious and secular culture has confronted the presence of NRMse.g., deprogramming and exit counselling.
Dawson, Lorne L., ed. 1996. Cults
in Context: Readings in the Study of New Religious Movements. Toronto: Canadian
Palmer, Susan J., and Charlotte E. Hardman, eds. 1999. Children in New Religions. New York: Routledge.
Wright, Stuart A., ed. 1995. Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Each week, students will present issues and questions raised by the readings for that class period. These questions, as well as other material related to the readings will form the basis of class discussion. Since this discussion is a major part of class interaction, it will count for a significant portion of the student's grade.
Syllabus (Fall 2001):
Introduction to the course.
August 24: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 1-2.
August 29: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 3, 5.
August 31: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 6, 8.
Sept. 4: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 7, 10.
Sept. 6: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 11-12.
Sept. 11: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 13. (Film: Devil Worship: The Rise of Satanism)
Sept. 13: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 14-15.
Sept. 18: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 17-18.
Sept. 20: Dawson, ed., Cults in Context, chapters 19-20.
Sept. 25: Guest speaker: Alex Carr, Church of Scientology.
Sept. 27: Quiz # 1.
Palmer and Hardman, eds., Children in New Religions, chapters 1-2.
October 4: Palmer and Hardman, eds., Children in New Religions, chapters 3-4
October 9: Palmer and Hardman, eds., Children in New Religions, chapters 5-6.
October 11: Guest speaker: H.H. Danavir Goswami, ISKON (possible field trip to ISKON temple)
October 16: Class cancelled.
October 18: Palmer and Hardman, eds., Children in New Religions, chapters 7-8.
October 23: Palmer and Hardman, eds., Children in New Religions, chapters 9-10
October 25: Palmer and Hardman, eds., Children in New Religions, chapters 11-12.
October 30: Quiz # 2.
Nov. 1: Guest speaker: Margy Mindy, Eckankar.
Nov. 6: Wright, ed., Armageddon in Waco, chapters 2-3.
Nov. 8: Wright, ed., Armageddon in Waco, chapters 4-5.
Nov. 13: Wright, ed., Armageddon in Waco, chapters 6-7.
Nov. 15: Wright, ed., Armageddon in Waco, chapters 11-12.
Nov. 20: Wright, ed., Armageddon in Waco, chapters 13-14.
Nov. 27: Film: Goddess Remembered.
Nov. 29: Guest speakers: Bobbi Vanden Arend, Wicca; Greg Tims, Asatru.
Dec. 4: Quiz # 3.
(a) I reserve the right to move class sessions around to accommodate the schedules of guest speakers.
(b) When preparing these readings students will undoubtedly come across the names of groups and individuals which they do not recognize. In order to understand more fully the phenomena of cults, sects, and new religious movements, I strongly recommend students look up any group they do not recognize on Jeffrey Hadden's Religious Movements page. Dr. Hadden is a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, and an internationally respected authority on NRMs.
1) Three one-hour examinations (September 27, October 30, December 4), covering conceptual material and questions raised in each of the three textbooks. Total marks: 30% of final grade.
2) One ten-page research paper on a new religious movement, some aspect of NRM study and scholarship, or controversial aspects of that NRM. Students are free to choose their own group or movement. If you need direction, either come and see me or email me. This paper should conform to all the requirements of a proper academic research essay. Proper documentation and support for your argument is essential. Click here for information on documentation styles. This is due at the beginning of class, December 4. Total marks: 30% of final grade. Please note that, while I will read email drafts of essays, I do not accept final submissions by email.
3) Discussion of readings and questions for class discussion. This is a critical part of the course. There are a number of assigned chapters for each class period. Students will be expected to have read the texts carefully, and to come to class well prepared to discuss issues raised by the author(s). Readings for each class will be introduced by student presentations. Rather than a précis of the work, the student will discuss the issues and questions raised in the work by the author(s). A two-page written report of the issues and questions will be turned in at the end of the class. Total marks: 20% of final grade.
4) Class participation in discussion of issues raised by the readings for that period. While class attendance is expected and does not count toward your final grade, non-attendance prevents you from participating and will result in marks off. Total marks: 20% of final grade.
Please note that if you are registering for this class as a graduate student (i.e., Soc 580O), there will be an increased workload, and you should see me either prior to the class or immediately following the first class. You will be required to (a) write two book reviews on books chosen in consultation with me, and (b) produce a twenty-page research paper, incorporating a graduate level of analysis.
Click here to see my grading