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William Girard (Section 01)
(Offered as RELI 121 and ANTH 121) This course will introduce students to the research methods, modes of analysis, and writing styles that accompany ethnographic fieldwork in religious communities. We will begin with a focus on prominent ethnographies (written accounts of cultures based on fieldwork) that are set in religious communities. We will consider the research questions and debates this literature has taken up as well as the specific ethical and practical challenges that characterize this scholarship. Students will then gain hands-on experience with a variety of ethnographic methods (e.g., participant observation and field notation, structured and unstructured interviews, and spatial mapping) through course field trips to local places of worship. We will also spend time examining the various digital tools (apps, social media, podcasts, etc.) that religious communities utilize today. For their final project, students will carry out their own independent ethnographic research projects with local religious communities. The final weeks of the course will focus on the specific challenges of analyzing and writing about religious cultures, including the ethics of representing others’ beliefs.
Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Girard.