1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Notification of Changes
  14. Custom Sections
  15. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  16. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  17. Severe Weather Protocol
  18. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  19. Religious Observances
  20. UAct Statement

Social Theory Foundations

REL 501-001Fall 2017 | 3 Credit Hours


Dr. Steven Ramey

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

None, except admission to degree program

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

No description found

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:

Course Objectives

     1. Students will engage various social theorists and their ideas

     2. Students will apply these ideas to issues and discussion in the academic study of religion

     3. Students will develop their own sense of the role of social theory in religious studies

Student Learning Outcomes

Students in REL 501 will be able to

1.     Understand the issues raised by specific social theorists

2.     Apply these theoretical issues to the analysis of various examples in class

3.     Use these theorists to analyze publications and data related to Religious Studies

4.     Present their analysis persuasively in a written format

5.     Present effectively their analysis of Religious Studies research orally in class

Other Course Materials

Additional Readings will be available on Blackboard and are marked with asterisks (**) on the schedule of topics and readings below.

Outline of Topics

Aug 23Introductions** Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe Introduction
Aug 30The SelfJudith Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself, chapters 1, 2
** Chakrabarty, chp 2
Sept 6ExperiencePierre Bourdieu, On Television
** Joan Scott, “Evidence of Experience”
Sept 13The OtherEduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism Without Racists chapters 1-4
** Edward Said, Orientalism Introduction
Sept 20HistoryMichel Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge Part I Introduction
** Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?”
** Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse chapter 4
Sept 27TraditionFoucault, Part II chapter 1
** Ayla Joncheere, “Kalbeliya Dance”
** Hugh Trevor-Roper, "The Invention of Tradition"
Oct 4PowerFoucault, Part II chapter 2 - Part IV chapter 6
Oct 11Identity** Jean-Francois Bayart, Illusion of Cultural Identity chapter 2
** Rogers Brubaker, Ethnicity Without Groups chapters 1, 2
** Katherine Pratt Ewing, “Revealing and Concealing”
Oct 18CultureBonilla-Silva, chp 5
** Kamala Vishweswaran, Un/common Cultures chapters 2, 3, 7
Oct 25Text** Roland Barthes, “Mythology Today”
** Sylvie Guichard, The Contruction of History and Nationalism in India Selections
Nov 1Place** Chakrabarty, chapter 7
** Prasanjit Duara, “Asia Redux”
Nov 8Religion(s)** Talal Asad “The Construction of Religion”
** Bruce Lincoln, “Theses on Method”
** Tomoko Masuzawa, “From Theology to World Religions”
** Hans Penner, “Phenomenology of Religion”
Nov 15ResponsibilityBonilla-Silva, chapter 8
Butler, chapter 3
** Chakrabarty, Epilogue
Nov 29Review / ConclusionsSubmit draft for peer review by date determined in class
Dec 6Review / Conclusions
Dec 12Final paper due at exam time set by university (7:00 pm)

Exams and Assignments

Reading comments

Readings for each seminar session must be completed before the seminar. Each student will circulate brief comments (1-2 paragraphs) to the entire class through the #Rel501 channel on Slack prior to the start of the seminar each week. These comments should reflect on the reading, asking questions, debating a passage or considering particular issues and approaches that are especially relevant to the student’s research. Each student should read the comments of others prior to the seminar.

Examples for application

On Aug 30, students will sign up for three seminar sessions at which they will present a news article, current event, or everyday example that provides an opportunity to apply and refine the ideas and theory from the readings of that week.

Blog posts

Over the course of the semester, each student will prepare three blog posts, each discussing an example that illustrates a particular point from one of the recent readings. The posts should be succinct (maximum 750 words) and accessible to a broad audience. Revised versions of posts will be published on the course's blog.

Final paper and peer editing

Each student is responsible for submitting by the University-scheduled time for the final exam (Dec. 12 at 7:00 pm) a research paper that illustrates their engagement and application of social theory. These papers may represent an engagement with one or more examples of scholarship in Religious Studies that relates to the student's area of specialization, analyzing the scholarship in relation to multiple theorists and issues discussed throughout the semester. The final paper should be an article length formal academic paper with proper citations. Further instructions and rubrics will be provided by the middle of the semester.

As a part of the writing process, each student is responsible for submitting a draft of their final paper for peer editing during the final two weeks of the seminar. When submitting the final paper, the draft and rubrics used during the peer editing process must be submitted with the final paper.

Grading Policy

AssessmentTotal points
Reading comments10
3 Seminar examples10
3 Blog posts10 points each30
Peer editing10
Final paper40

Final grades will be assigned according to the following grading scale

90-100 points A

80-89 points B

70-79 points C

60-69 points D

below 60 F

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

Due to the cooperative nature of the seminar, late and missed assignments frequently have negative effects on others within the seminar. Late or missed assignments, therefore, will be penalized significantly. If the circumstances leading to the late/missed assignment are beyond the control of the student, then reductions in penalties may be applied at the discretion of the professor.

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to be present at each seminar session, having completed the assigned reading and student commentaries and prepared to discuss the relevant issues. If a student cannot attend, please notify the professor as soon as possible.

Notification of Changes

The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.

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.

Religious Observances

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.

UAct Statement

The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility.  The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact)  provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, hate or bias incidents, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.