American Studies 241
The Religions of the American Peoples
Instructor: Peter W. Williams 529-4305
Office Hours: Brief, informal consultations with the instructor can usually be conducted before or after class. However, he is generally available at other times by appointment. If you want to make a specific appointment at a mutually convenient time, please see him before or after class or call 529-4305 during working hours. Otherwise, you are welcome to drop by at your convenience, and he will most likely be there. Messages may be left on voice mail. E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Purposes of Course: To provide students with basic knowledge of some of the religious communities in North America outside the historic Protestant "mainstream." To examine the impact of immigration and ethnicity on the pluralistic character of American culture and society as reflected in its religious communities. To develop skills of analysis and expression.
Credit: 4 credit hours. CAS-B Humanities (Arts & Science).
Thematic Sequence: AMS/REL is part of a Miami Plan Thematic Sequence entitled "Religion and American Culture" that also consists of either REL 101, 102, or 103 (at least one of these is offered each semester); and either AMS/REL 341 or AMS/REL 442.
Note: AMS/REL 241 has been revised since its last offering. It no longer covers African American religions, and has reduced coverage of Native American religions. Instead, coverage of Latino religions has been expanded. A new course, AMS/REL 242, will cover these other materials, but is not likely to be offered until the academic year 2000/01.
General Expectations: Regular attendance at class and completion of regular writing exercises; completion of assigned readings on schedule, and participation in class discussion; prompt submission of worship report; passing performance on hour exams and final.
Examinations: Two hour exams consisting of short answer/ identification question (names and terms) and essays.
Final Examination date: Wednesday 5 May @ 12:30 PM
Written Assignments: All students are expected to submit a worship service report, specifics on which will be provided on a separate handout. In addition, students will be asked on most days to write for a few minutes at the beginning of class on a question pertinent to material recently covered in readings and/or lectures. Grades will consist of a checkmark, occasionally ornamented with a plus or minus for unusually good or bad work. This work will be factored into the 10% of the grade awarded on a credit/no credit basis, but unusually good or poor performance may influence borderline course grades.
Grading: Grades will be based primarily on 2 hour exams (about 25% each); a final exam (about 35%); and on satisfactory, timely submissions of other, ungraded written assignments (about 15%) Significant improvement during the course and active class participation may be taken into account in determining the final grade. Credit will not be given for the course unless all examinations are completed and the worship report is submitted in a timely manner.
Absence: Each student may miss two regular class periods with no explanation; this does not apply to exam days. Beyond that, absence from the written in-class exercise will result in loss of credit from the 10@ given for ungraded written work. Extensions or make-up examinations will not be given except for substantive medical reasons or family emergencies. Any such situations should be reported to the instructor immediately. The instructor reserves the right to request documentation for any such absences. Any exam missed and not made up quickly (i.e., within a week of recovery or return to campus) will be averaged in as an F (0).
Majors and Minors: AMS/REL 241, 242, and 341 are designed for any students interested in pursuing the study of religion and culture in American life and history, but are also directly relevant to majors or minors in Religion or American Studies. For further information about such majors and minors, please consult the instructor, who also wears the hat of Director of the Program in American Studies.
Reading: The following texts are particularly important for this course, namely:
Rudolfo Anaya, BLESS ME, ULTIMA
Abraham Cahan, THE RISE OF DAVID LEVINSKY
Charles Morris, AMERICAN CATHOLIC
John Neihardt, ed., BLACK ELK SPEAKS
Robert Orsi, THANK YOU, ST. JUDE
Chaim Potok, THE PROMISE
Richard Rodriguez, HUNGER OF MEMORY
Phillip Roth, GOODBYE, COLUMBUS
(Note: We will only be reading selections from the Rodriquez and Roth volumes.)
The following secondary work will also be useful:
Peter W. Williams, AMERICA'S RELIGIONS
(University of Illinois Press edition)
All books assigned or recommended are available in paperback editions, and copies of all are also available at the reserve desk at King Library.
America's Religions: Traditions and Cultures (University of Illinois paperback), the instructor's own work, grew out of the lectures in this and other related courses. You may want to purchase a copy, or use one of several copies available on reserve at King. Relevant chapters in this work are essentially write-ups of your lecture outlines; you may find them useful to read in conjunction with the lectures and/or for review for exams.
Syllabus of Topics and Reading:
(Schedules of specific readings will be announced at the beginnings of each class unit)
Unit I. The Jewish Tradition
Reading: Abraham Cahan, The Rise of David Levinsky
Chaim Potok, The Promise
Phillip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus
America's Religions, chaps. 3, 4, 20, 38, 45, 46
First Hour Exam Wednesday 10 February
Note: Class meets on Tues. 2/16 instead of Mon. 2/15
Unit II. Eastern Christianity
Reading: America's Religions, chaps. 5 & 37
Unit III. Roman Catholicism
Reading: Charles Morris, American Catholic
Robert Orsi, Thank You, St. Jude
America's Religions, chaps. 6, 7, 20, 36, 47, 48
TBA: Discussion with Robert Orsi of Thank You, St. Jude
Second Hour Exam Wednesday 24 March
Unit IV. Latino and Native American Traditions
Reading: John Neihardt, ed., Black Elk Speaks
Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima
Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory
America's Religions, chaps. 1, 21, 39
12 April Discussion with Bernard Comeau on Black Elk Speaks
Final Examination: Wednesday 5 May @ 12:30 PM