Social Theory Foundations
REL 501-001 | Fall 2017 | 3 Credit Hours
Dr. Steven Ramey
UA Campus Directory:
UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:
None, except admission to degree program
Course Description and Credit Hours
This three credit hour graduate seminar introduces students to terms and ideas from social theory and their relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will apply theories to analyze examples relevant in Religious Studies, both ancient and modern. Each student will also select an important work in their chosen field of study in consultation with their advisor and analyze that work in depth in relation to the various issues discussed in the course.
Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
- FOUCAULT (RENTAL) / (RENTAL) ARCHAEOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE (RENTAL)
- FOUCAULT / ARCHAEOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE (Required)
- BOURDIEU / ON TELEVISION (Required)
- BUTLER, JUDITH / GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF ONESELF (Required)
- BUTLER, JUDITH (RENTAL) / (RENTAL) GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF ONESELF (RENTAL)
- BONILLA-SILVA / RACISM WITHOUT RACISTS (P) (Required)
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 23||Introductions||** Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe Introduction|
|Aug 30||The Self||Judith Butler, Giving an Account of Oneself, chapters 1, 2|
|** Chakrabarty, chp 2|
|Sept 6||Experience||Pierre Bourdieu, On Television|
|** Joan Scott, “Evidence of Experience”|
|Sept 13||The Other||Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism Without Racists chapters 1-4|
|** Edward Said, Orientalism Introduction|
|Sept 20||History||Michel Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge Part I Introduction|
|** Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?”|
|** Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse chapter 4|
|Sept 27||Tradition||Foucault, Part II chapter 1|
|** Ayla Joncheere, “Kalbeliya Dance”|
|** Hugh Trevor-Roper, "The Invention of Tradition"|
|Oct 4||Power||Foucault, Part II chapter 2 - Part IV chapter 6|
|Oct 11||Identity||** Jean-Francois Bayart, Illusion of Cultural Identity chapter 2|
|** Rogers Brubaker, Ethnicity Without Groups chapters 1, 2|
|** Katherine Pratt Ewing, “Revealing and Concealing”|
|Oct 18||Culture||Bonilla-Silva, chp 5|
|** Kamala Vishweswaran, Un/common Cultures chapters 2, 3, 7|
|Oct 25||Text||** Roland Barthes, “Mythology Today”|
|** Sylvie Guichard, The Contruction of History and Nationalism in India Selections|
|Nov 1||Place||** Chakrabarty, chapter 7|
|** Prasanjit Duara, “Asia Redux”|
|Nov 8||Religion(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 15||Responsibility||Bonilla-Silva, chapter 8|
|Butler, chapter 3|
|** Chakrabarty, Epilogue|
|Nov 29||Review / Conclusions||Submit draft for peer review by date determined in class|
|Dec 6||Review / Conclusions|
|Dec 12||Final paper due at exam time set by university (7:00 pm)|
Exams and Assignments
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.
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.
|3 Seminar examples||10|
|3 Blog posts||10 points each||30|
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.
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.
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 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.