intro to religion final


Final Exam

Due via Canvas no later than 7:00pm on Thursday, Dec. 19.

By placing your name on this assignment and/or by uploading it to Canvas, you are acknowledging that all the work in it belongs to you, and only you, unless otherwise noted by citation. Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated. Such misconduct will be reported to the Division of Student Affairs and will very likely result in a failing grade. The University might apply additional sanctions.

Do not use any outside sources. You can only use lecture notes and assigned readings from this course. If you use an outside source, then your exam is subject to sanction, i.e. a reduction in grade.

When citing a source, please use in-text, parenthetical citations, e.g. (Pals, Introducing, p. 364), (Sullivan, “The Impossibility of Religious Freedom”), or (Lecture, Nov. 19). Your entire exam must be double-spaced, with page numbers. Upload your exam to Canvas as a Word document or PDF.

Five Short Answers (10 points each). Please provide short-answer responses (about 125 words) to five of the following eight terms. Your response must explain how the term or concept relates to a major theme or topic of the course or of that week.

“soul sickness” (Week 9)

Ibeyi, “River” (Week 9)

“creature feeling” (Week 10)

“religion is what religion does” (Week 11)

“a way of looking at the world” (Week 11)

“the myth of the Muslim country” (Week 12)

“religion is a modern innovation” (Week 13)

Gilead (Week 15)

Two Essays (50 points each). Please address two of the following three prompts. Each essay should be no less than 1250 words in length (about 4-5 pages each, double-spaced).

1) In the early 20th century, scholars like Émile Durkheim and Rudolf Otto were trying—in their own distinct ways—to discover the essence and origin of religion. By the mid 20th century, the quest to determine such “origins and essences” (Pals, Introducing, p. 338) was largely abandoned by E. E. Evans-Pritchard and Clifford Geertz. Using these four theorists, write an account of this shift in the academic study of religion. Your essay should detail each theory and explain how sociological (Durkheim) and theological (Otto) questions about religion lost their value in anthropological questions about religion (Evans-Pritchard and Geertz) and what anthropologists of religion hoped to discover or tell us about religion.

2) Scholars of religion have recently begun to call into question the term and concept “religion,” arguing that the ways “religion” is used in U.S constitutional law, U.S. foreign policy, and the study of ancient religions are hindered by all sorts of assumptions or fictions about the term and concept itself. Drawing from the works of Winnifred Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, and Brent Nongbri, explain how and why each of these scholars criticize legal, political, and academic uses of “religion.”

3) You are applying for a job as an assistant professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. During your colloquium—that is, your job interview—with faculty members, you are asked to explain the difference between the reductionist and the non-reductionist approach to the study of religion. Before you can answer that question, another faculty members ask you to explain which of these two approaches you prefer to use in your scholarship and why. What are your answers to these two questions? Remember, your job just might depend on your response! (And because professors are a demanding bunch, they require you to use at least four different texts to address these questions.)