Self Society & Religions
REL 237-001 | Spring 2017 | 3 Credit Hours
UA Campus Directory:
UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:
No prereqs found
Course Description and Credit Hours
A survey of psychological and social theories used to study religion, drawing on different cultural and historical data of relevance to the approaches surveyed.
This course examines the very idea of a self and considers how agency and identity constitute the self. It explores the mechanisms of self-management, particularly with respect to religious ideals, models, and institutions. Finally, it considers the political ramifications of religiously identified selves. Students will read philosophical and social scientific works and use what they learn to analyze a prominent text pertaining to issues of religious identity.
Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
- GOFFMAN / ASYLUMS (Required)
- MAHMOOD / POLITICS OF PIETY W/NEW PREFACE (Required)
- MAHMOOD (RENTAL) / (RENTAL) POLITICS OF PIETY W/NEW PREFACE (RENTAL)
- LHALUNGPA (OOP) / THE LIFE OF MILAREPA (Required)
1) To gain familiarity with concepts and debates central to the academic discussion of identity.
2) To gain practice critiquing theoretical concepts and applying them to texts.
Student Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
· Discuss different models of the self.
· Distinguish and evaluate different techniques of self-management.
· Reflect on the social and political aspects of identity.
· Bring sophisticated concepts to bear on texts of historical significance.
Other Course Materials
Outline of Topics
1) Frankfurt—“Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.” (Jan. 17)
2) Frankfurt—“Identification and externality.” (Jan. 19)
3) Frankfurt—“The importance of what we care about.” (Jan. 24)
4) Frankfurt—“Identification and wholeheartedness.” (Jan. 26)
5) Frankfurt—“Rationality and the unthinkable.” (Jan. 31)
6) Taylor—“Responsibility for Self.” (Feb. 2)
7) Taylor—“Self-Interpreting Animals.” (Feb. 7)
8) Taylor—The Sources of the Self, chs 1-2. (Feb. 9, 14)
9) Elster—Ulysses and the Sirens, ch. 2. (Feb. 16)
10) Elster—Sour Grapes, ch. 2. (Feb. 21)
11) Elster—Sour Grapes, ch. 3. (Feb. 23)
12) Elster—Sour Grapes, ch. 4. (Feb. 28)
13) Goffman—“On the Characteristics of Total Institutions.” (March 7, 9)
14) Bagger—The Uses of Paradox. (March 21, 23, 28, 30)
15) Mahmood—Politics of Piety. (April 4, 6, 11, 13)
16) Bilgrami—“What is a Muslim.? Fundamental Commitment and Cultural Identity.” (April 18)
· I expect you to bring the assigned reading to class.
· Responsibility for the success of our discussions rests on your shoulders. If you are not willing to ask questions or converse with one another, the discussions will fail.
· You are responsible for announcements I make in class.
· I use Blackboard as a file distribution system only. If you need to reach me, do not message me through Blackboard. I will not see it.
· You must bring a bluebook to the exam.
· I have no attendance policy. From experience I know you will regret missing class come exam time.
Exams and Assignments
· An in-class midterm exam (March 2). You will be asked to “identify” five quotations out of twelve taken from the readings. You should have no difficulty recognizing the sources of the quotations. Prepare to explain the import, ideas, and circumstances pertinent to each quotation as fully. This exercise is your opportunity to display what you have learned from the readings and from class. You must bring a bluebook to the exam. If you must miss the exam for a legitimate reason, you may take the exam at a time of mutual convenience. (25%)
· One 2-page paper, hard copy due 3:30 PM Feb 17 in my mailbox in 212 Manly Hall. No electronic submissions. I penalize late submissions ½ letter grade per day. You must compose your own paper topic in consultation with me. This paper affords you the opportunity to critique one of authors or concepts discussed in class. You should feel free to argue for a position with which (you believe) I disagree. Disagreement with me will NOT affect your grade (as long as you take account of the ideas and arguments we have studied). I will grade the papers on a) the quality of your argument, and b) the quality of your prose. Be sure to avail yourself of the writing guidelines I have provided on blackboard. If you do not feel confident in your ability to write this kind of paper, you should seek help from me during office hours. (25%)
· One 5-page paper, hard copy due 3:30 PM May 4 in my mailbox in 212 Manly Hall. No electronic submissions. Select one of the texts from the following list and analyze it using concepts and arguments derived from the assigned readings:
*The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
*The Way of the Bodhisattva, Shantideva
*Solomon Maimon: An Autobiography
*Practice in Christianity, Kierkegaard
*The Life of Milarepa
*The Autobiography of Malcolm X
*The Way of Perfection, Teresa of Avila
*Radical: My Journey out of Extremist Islam (Maajid Nawaz)
*The Confessions, Augustine
You should feel free to argue for a position with which (you believe) I disagree. Disagreement with me will NOT affect your grade (as long as you take account of the ideas and arguments we have studied). I will grade the papers on a) the quality of your argument, and b) the quality of your prose. If you do not feel confident in your ability to write this kind of paper, you should seek help from me during office hours. (50%)
· Students who make positive contributions to the learning environment, particularly through constructive participation in class discussions, may receive a premium of up to 2.5 points toward their final grade.
Texts available for purchase
Politics of Piety, Mahmood
The remaining readings are available on Blackboard.
See section on Exams and Assignments to see percentages for each item towards your grade.
Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
If you must miss the exam for a legitimate reason, you may take the exam at a time of mutual convenience.
I have no attendance policy. From experience I know you will regret missing class come exam time.
Statement on Academic Misconduct
Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the Online Catalog.
Statement On Disability Accommodations
Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.
Severe Weather Protocol
Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.
Pregnant Student Accommodations
Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.
Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.
The UAct website provides an overview of The University's expectations regarding respect and civility.