Comparative Ritual Theory
Designed to introduce the student to a variety of theories of comparison, ritual studies, and applications of those studies, students will be encouraged to critically examine their own liturgical work and the liturgical work of others.
This course is built around the idea that theory regarding ritual and religion can be (and has been) applied to work within ADF, whether it is applied to the personal experience of ADF, or the general method of doing "ADF-style" rituals. A number of academic (as well as sociological, economic, and feminist, to name a few) theories can be applied, and this course hopes to introduce the student to several of these theories in order to ensure a rounded, open approach to ritual studies.
We hope that by the end of this course, our students will have not only a better understanding of why we do things like we do in ADF, but also why they do things as individuals, and what our rituals really mean to them.
I: Methods of Comparison
- Explain the difference between "reductionist" theories of ritual comparison and "anti-reductionist" theories. (min. 200 words)
- In your opinion, in what ways has the academic study of religion affected ADF's ritual structure? (100 words min.)
II: Methods of Ritual Study
- The recommended reading list offers many different writings by and about theorists of ritual and religion. Select two different theorists covered by the recommended reading list, and read one of the sources listed by or about each of them. Summarize their arguments about ritual, describe where they differ, and explain which argument is more applicable in your view, as well as why you feel it is more applicable. (no min. word count)
- The study of ritual often indicates that religion is a "problem to be solved." How does this aspect of ritual studies affect your experience of ritual? (min. 150 words)
- Choose a single heading in the ADF Core Order of Ritual and explain why this part of the ritual was included in the way it was, and in the place it was, using the theories of one of the theorists listed above as the basis of your argument. (no min. word count)
- Provide a description of a ritual that went very well (in your opinion). Drawing on at least two theorists you have read for this course, explain why this ritual went well. (150 words for description, 200 words for explanation)
- Provide a description of a ritual that went very poorly (in your opinion). Drawing on at least two theorists you have read for this course, explain why this ritual went poorly. (150 words for description, 200 words for explanation)
- Attend two rituals from different religions (neither of these religions may be a Neo-Pagan religion). Compose a research paper comparing these two rituals (or aspects of them) to all or part of the ADF Core Order of Ritual, using the tools learned in this course. (min. 2500 words)
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