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

Religion in Pop Culture

REL 104-600Fall 2018 | 3 Credit Hours


Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

None.. With concurrency: .

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

Instead of assuming that religion is a distinct aspect of the human, one that interacts only with elements of elite or high culture, this course examines the ways that the beliefs and behaviors that we commonly classify as religious are a part of everyday culture—in particular, the ways that they are produced by and in turn influence popular culture. Myths, rituals, and traditions circulate all throughout mass culture via print, radio, television, and now the web. The course therefore introduces students to a set of recent, historical examples where the scholar of religion can shed light on the workings of contemporary day-to-day life. As a part of the core curriculum, this course addresses the ability of students to deal with questions of values, ethics, or aesthetics as they are represented in the humanistic fields of learning regarding the study of religion, film, art, music, and online media. The course is broad in scope and takes a global perspective on religion and popular culture as well as the relationship between all points of view on these subjects. The emphasis of the course is the history and appreciation of religion and popular culture.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
  • NONE / NO TEXT REQUIRED (Required)

Readings will be made available through Blackboard.

Note: You are expected to complete all the readings assigned in this course. You are strongly suggested to take personal notes for all of your readings. For example:

  • What specialized words and concepts are used in a reading? Are there any you do not understand? Search out their meanings. You might ask the instructor whether you understand them correctly.

  • What are the strangest or fuzziest parts of the reading? Make notes on them. Rephrase the ideas in your own words and then check to see whether you understand what you are reading. You might ask the instructor whether you understand them correctly.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will be introduced to issues in the academic study of religion.

  2. Students will practice critical thinking skills.

  3. Students will be introduced to issues in the academic study of popular culture.

  4. Students will examine and analyze how religion produces, and is produced by, popular culture.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain key terms and concepts related to the academic study of religion in popular culture.

  2. Apply critical tools (theoretical frameworks) to analyze discourses in popular culture.

  3. Deploy online reading, writing and research skills in the service of religious studies.

  4. Describe some of the beliefs, practices, texts and institutions of relevance to the people studied by scholars of religion in popular culture.

  5. Situate and analyze personal preconceptions about religion to larger historical and cultural contexts.

  6. Produce analyses of popular culture that illustrate the construction and qualification of beliefs and practices considered to be religious.

Other Course Materials

Regular access to the internet is essential for this course. Students in REL104 are expected to have access to the internet through a computer for at least two hours at least twice per week. In order to complete the assignments in this course, you are expected to learn some basic skills in using your computer.

Outline of Topics

Over the course of the term, our class will study the following topics:

  • Issues in defining and studying religion.

  • Issues in defining and studying popular culture.

  • Taking a functionalist approach to religion in popular culture.

  • Learning how to write critically about examples of religion in popular culture.

Exams and Assignments

All the assignments in this course are focused on developing your ability develop your own analyses and respond to others. Your final grade really does depend upon your participation in all assignments. For the schedule of assignments please review the course schedule document in Blackboard.

Note: You are expected to completed all the assignments for a passing grade in this course.

Discussion forums - Each module includes several short writing exercises. Some exercises will ask you to analyze examples and others will ask you to respond to what others have written. You are expected to complete all the discussion assignments for a passing grade in this course. Completed, satisfactory discussion participation is worth 50% of your final grade.

Tests - Some modules include tests. You are expected to completed all the tests for a passing grade in this course. Completed tests are worth 15% of your final grade.

Blogs - In the final two modules, will be asked to write blog posts. A blog post is an informal, short writing exercise that includes connections to online sources. You are expected to completed all the blog assignments for a passing grade in this course.Completed, satisfactory blog posts are worth 35% of your final grade.

Grading Policy

The course depends upon your full participation and the completion of work that meets everyone’s satisfaction. Modules 1 and 2 will include discussions of what makes for satisfactory work.

  • Full grades will be given for satisfactory work.

  • Unsatisfactory work will be given a half-grade.

  • Incomplete or highly unsatisfactory work will be given no grade.

  • No passing grade will be given to a student with a missing assignment grade.

A grades will be given for full, satisfactory completion of all discussions, blogs and surveys.

A- to D- grades will be given for full but sometimes unsatisfactory completion of all discussions, blogs and surveys.

F grades will be given incomplete or unsatisfactory completion of one or more discussions, blogs and surveys.

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

You are expected to completed all the assignments for a passing grade in this course.

Attendance Policy

REL104 is a combined lecture and discussion course that takes place entirely online. Your full participation in the course is expected for the entire course. In order to participate fully in this course, you will need to have access to a computer and the internet for over an hour least twice per week. The best results will come from spending at least three hours per week participating in the course.

You are responsible for contributing to your learning experience as well as that of everyone else in the course. Any behaviors that make others feel uncomfortable in their learning environment will not be tolerated. The course instructor who moderates the class will delete any contribution that violates the course netiquette policy, and then contact the student for a new contribution. After two violations of netiquette, the instructor may ask the student to leave the course.

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.