Sacred Narratives and Texts
Sacred Narratives and Texts is one of the core courses for Interdisciplinary Ph.D. students with Religious Studies as either their coordinating or their co-discipline. In this course we will be examining numerous issues related to the oralization, textualization, re-oralization, and/or performance of sacred narratives. How religious communities identify and modify sacred texts, how they articulate, communicate, and commemorate these sacred narratives is a vital component in a more complete understanding of the traditions themselves.
As for all of our courses in Religious Studies, our motto for this class was given to us over a century ago by the eminent philologist, Max Müller: "He who knows one, knows none" (recalling, of course, that we mean both "he" and "she").
Please note changes to the original schedule.
204C Haag Hall
|Location||Royall Hall 204 (new room assignment)|
|Time||7:00-9:45 p.m. Tuesday|
|Office Hours||6:00-7:00 p.m. Tuesday, or by appointment|
|Required Reading||See below|
Required Reading | Class Schedule | Coursework and Evaluation | Nota Bene | Academic Honesty
(Nb., these are listed in bibliographic order. Textbooks for the class may be purchased from the UMKC bookstore, or other outlets at the student's convenience. See the course syllabus below for the order in which we will be reading and discussing them.)
Asma. 'Believing Women' in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations
of the Quran.
Ehrman, Bart D. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament.
Farr, Carol Ann. The Book of Kells: Its Function and Audience.
Givens, Terryl. By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a World Religion.
Graham, William A. Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion.
Hauptman, Judith. Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman's Voice.
Holler, Clyde, ed. The Black Elk Reader.
Lüdemann, Gerd. The Unholy in Holy Scripture: The Dark Side of the Bible.
Maskarinec, Gregory G. The Rulings of the Night: An Ethnography of Nepalese Shaman Oral Texts.
Mathews, Thomas F. The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art.
Mizuno, Kogen. Buddhist Sutras: Origin, Development, Transmission.
Neihardt, John G. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux.
Richman, Paula, ed. Many Râmâyanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia.
Smith, Wilfred Cantwell. What is Scripture? A Comparative Approach. (Nb., this text has gone out of print. Numerous used copies are available online, however, at outlets such as Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble Online, abebooks.com, or others, and students are still expected to have it.)
There will be one assigned text per week (with the exception of April 15). 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. 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, but is not limited to: (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. Click here for a sample worksheet based on these key questions.
to the course:
Scripture and Orality I: To Write and/or Not to Write
Presenter: Diane Sager
Scripture and Orality II: Authority and Opposition
Presenter: John Haines
|February 4|| Scripture
and Orality III: The Performance Text
Scripture and Textuality I: The Process and Politics of Canonization
Presenter: Diane Sager
Scripture and Textuality II: The Hidden Text
Presenter: Ed Bushéy
Scripture and Textuality III: The Received Text?
Presenter: Jason Steuber
The Use of Scripture by Religious Communities I: Liturgy
Presenter: Lani Kirsch
The Use of Scripture by Religious Communities II: Art
Presenter: Kelly Wyman
The Innovation of Scripture and New Scriptural Traditions
Presenter: Mickey McCloud
Women's Voices I: The Reinterpretation of Scripture in Judaism
Women's Voices II: The Reinterpretation of Scripture in Islam
Presenter: Ed Bushéy
The Voice of the Other: The Politics of Appropriation
Presenter: Michelle Workman
Reprise: Reading Scripture as a Scholar of Religion
Last day of class.
During this class session, each student will be expected to make a brief presentation (i.e., no more than ten minutes) on their research topic.
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 topical purview of the course. Class attendance is mandatory, and only excused absences arranged in advance with Prof. Cowan will be permitted.
Research paper: Essays should be written to conform to the style of a particular academic journal, to which such an essay might be submitted for consideration for publication. Since one of the keys to successful academic publishing is matching the style and substance of an essay with the needs and desires of a particular journal, this is a very important part of the assignment. 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. You are required to submit with your paper, a copy of the submission guidelines for the journal you have chosen.
Research papers are due in Prof. Cowan's office by 5:00 pm on Friday, May 9, 2003. I urge students to consult with me on a research topic early in the semester, and I am happy to read as many drafts of your paper as you want to submit. You may email me these drafts, or give them to me in hard copy. There is one proviso, however: the deadline for drafts is April 22. I will not accept them after that date. Final papers are to be submitted in hard copy only; email submissions will be returned to the student unread, and will be counted as late if the hard copy comes in after the deadline.
Class participation is not the same as class attendance. In graduate 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 this: You don't have to be right all the time, but you do have to step up and at least risk being wrong.
Please note also that Prof. Cowan has a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty will result in a "0" for the assignment in question, and consequences can range from course failure (for undergraduate students) to a request for official dismissal from the academic program in which a student is enrolled (for graduate students). If you are unclear about what constitutes plagiarism, click here.
If you would like to see under what circumstances, Prof. Cowan will exhibit leniency towards plagiarism, click here.