This course is an introduction to some of the religions founded during the last two centiries that now have a sizable global following. Religions to be covered include several of the following: the Mormon tradition, the Adventist trdition, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, the Baha'i faith, The Unification Church, Scientology, Falun Gong, Soka Gakkai, and Wicca.
This course examines religious groups associated with established religious traditions (e.g., Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, etc.) that support and/or commit violent acts in the accomplishment of their theological and social agendas. Particular emphasis will be placed on why these groups understand violence as a religiously acceptable and oftentimes necessary course of action.
An introduction to the major living religions found throughout the world, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirement for graduation.
This course explores the cultural and relgious representations of death in American society. It examines such topics as the funeral home industry, burial practices, death entertainment, and most importantly, the conplementary and competing ways that the world's religions conceptualize death.
The course examines the relationship between religion and popular culture. Possible course topics include the depiction of religion in popular culture; the use of popular culture in religion; and the religious function of popular culture.
This course will revolve around an examination of the ways in which religion and law are understood as concepts: it will examine the presuppositions that impact the ways these terms are defined, and the ways in which these definitions get mapped onto institutional contexts. In particular, the course will focus on the model for the relationship between the state and religion assumed in the American legal system, especially the explicit and implicit understandings of what counts as religion in a illegal context.
This course examines the formation, social organization, and religious identities of New Religious Movements (popularly called "cults"). Some questions that may be examined include: Waht causes New Religious Movements to form? Who joins them? Why do some thrive while others die out? What role does gender difference play in New Religious Movements? How do New Relliigious Movements relate to the more "established" religions (Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, etc.)?
This course examines many of the key historical moments and distinguishing features of American Evangelicalism, a movement of conservative Christians from the Fundamentalist, Holiness, Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Neo-Evangelical traditions.
An intensive exploration of critical theories currently employed by scholars in the academic study of religion, based upon readings of the classic works in which those theories have been expounded. Required of majors in the spring of the junior year. At the conclusion of the junior seminar, students will identify the topic for their senior directed study.
JAN357: "Come On Down!" How to Win on "The Price Is Right" (co-taught with Matt Cathey)
Wofford Student...COME ON DOWN!!! You’re the next student to register for “The Price Is Right (and Related Game Shows)”
interim! During this class, we will briefly examine the place and history of game shows in American culture before we turn our
full attention to the granddaddy of them all, The Price Is Right. Using basic mathematical techniques in probability theory,
combinatorics, and game theory we will learn the best strategies to beating the various TPIR games, ensuring that we all would
come home Showcase winners! We will also collaborate to create our own Wofford-focused game show, which we will unveil at
the end of interim before of a live studio audience of Wofford students, faculty, and staff.
JAN322: January Smackdown: A Cultural History of Professional Wrestling (co-taught with Matt Cathey)
This course will examine professional wrestling has a distinctively American cultural form. Specifically, this course will examine the hyper-masculine nature of professional wrestling, along with its patent homoeroticism, and how this subculture provides for young men specific and problematic models of masculinity. Alongside this examination of wrestling as a topic of academic inquiry, we will immerse ourselves as insiders into the professional wrestling subculture in a number of ways. First, we will engage wrestling fan culture by attending local live wrestling events, by watching televised WWE and TNA shows, by monitoring important wrestling websites and blogs, and by viewing historically important matches and familiarizing ourselves with some of the great wrestlers from yesteryear. Second, will become professional wrestlers ourselves. We will obtain our official pro wrestling licenses from the state of South Carolina, and we will attend wrestling school at the American Pro Wrestling Coliseum. Each of us will also develop our own wrestling personas and we will create storylines, film promos, and maintain our own in-character websites. This will culminate with us putting on our own pro wrestling show for the entire Wofford community at the end of interim. (Click here for the 2008 version of the course.)
JAN321: The Circus Interim (co-taught with Amy Sweitzer)
This interim will examine the rich and exciting tradition of the American circus. We will study the history of the circus in America; attend circus performances; consider the ways in which circuses present versions of gender, exoticism, nature/culture, and human identity; critique the depictions of circuses in popular culture; acquire some of the basic skills of the circus arts; develop individual clown personae; and develop and present a circus on campus as a final project. No formal performance experience is necessary.
JAN320: I'm All In: How to Play (and Win at) Poker (co-taught with Matt Cathey)
This course is for anyone with an interest in poker, Texas Hold'Em, specifically. It is designed to equip you with many of the tools you'll need to become a solid poker player. Poker is a complex game that requires players to make several sophisticated mathematical calculations simultaneously in order to be played successfully. Throughout interim, we will meet on campus, learning these mathematical lessons; we will also spend lots of time putting these lessons into practice in actual in-class tournament play.
JAN3??: Hip Hop Interim: The History and Politics of Hip Hop Music and Culture in America (co-taught with Jim Neighbors and Coz Chivandire)
This course will explore hip hop culture from its roots in the 1960s Black Arts movement towards present-day status as a major cultural movement. We will read and watch history and documentaries/films of major figures and significant moments in hip hop – Grandmaster Flash, Africa Bombaataa, Chuck D, thug culture, roles and representations of woman, white appropriation of hip hop – and we will listen to and discuss as many songs/CDs is possible. We will also pay attention to some of the major problems in the last 30 years post-civil rights era Black America – urban flight, race riots, gang warfare, high rates of imprisonment, police brutality – to examine the extent to which hip hop has influenced/been influenced by major events. There will also be a significant performance component to the course, which will include composing/mixing hip hop songs/lyrics, and emphasis on class discussion and participation in collaborative group projects.
REL470: Islamism and Democracy (Monier Abusaft, co-taught with Trina Jones and Bill De Mars, spring '11)
REL470: Current Religious Issues (Adrienne Hamm, Jason O'Quinn & Meagan Lankford, spring '09)
The students' own description of the project: “We set out to investigate the complexities of current religious issues and their interaction with and effect on contemporary cultures. Our focus is on analyzing various religiously-toned issues in the media. As a trio of senior Religion majors, we are collaborating with one of Canada's finest, Dr. Dan Mathewson. Each week we research and analyze a current and relevant religious topic. Our paramount goal is to delve deeper into the underlying themes and problematic issues that characterize these issues and to analyze them using our knowledge obtained from four years of intensive studies in Religion.”
REL470: Religion in the South (Meg Maultsby, fall '08)
Meg's description of the topic: “Over the course of the semester, I will be exploring what it means to be southern and how Christianity shaped South Carolina's culture and people, especially in the Spartanburg area. I will attempt to discover how Christianity in the South is changing by observing where it has been and currently is, as well as where it is headed. I'll be looking for Christianity in southern culture; in politics, education, social life and public morality. I feel that these things are pertinent to lives not only those who live in the South, not only Christians, but all Americans and even all people.”
REL470: The Religious Lives of Everyday People (Lindsey Lane and Weatherly Meadors, fall '08)
The students' own description of the project: “This course is an independent study designed to explore the ways that religion is thought about and enacted by “normal,” everyday people who may or may not belong to different religions and/or denominations. We will start at Wofford College and will explore the contradictory and complementary ways that different Wofford students conceptualize religion. Will be asking generalized questions to various Wofford students – ones who attend religious services regularly, ones who do so infrequently, and ones who rarely do or do not at all. We'll ask all of them about their central ideas about religion, about the divine, about religious practices and so forth. Based on what we find, and after receiving their permission, we will attend religious services with some of those with whom we've spoken. We will speak with other, non-Wofford people who attend the same services as well, asking them similar questions. We will explore with everyone their ideas about why they attend the services, what the worship experience consists of and what it accomplishes in their lives. The basic goal of the project is to get a sense of the diverse ways that people think about religion. Because we will speak with people representing different religious traditions (Hindu, Jewish, Christian, etc.), with people from different “denominations” within those traditions, and with those are not religiously affiliated at all, we will have opportunity to compare ideas about the religious experience across a broad spectrum.”
INDP200: Evangelicals on the West Coast and in the South (Collins McCraw)