Description : Americans have never been more religious than they are now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century. By all reports, attendance rates at traditional places of worship are high and rising; the influx of new immigrant religions has revitalized standard faiths and drawn in those who had strayed from them. Popular television shows like "The Simpsons" feature characters who go to church every Sunday and speak to God; special events, like the 1998 outdoor mass in Worcester, Massachusetts, for a comatose girl believed to have miraculous powers, attract thousands of people. This collection is both part of this ferment and an intellectual reflection upon it. Religion and Cultural Studies features essays by major scholars from the fields of anthropology, history, literary criticism, and religion in order to enrich critical discourse about religion and culture. Despite the variety of disciplines represented by this group of scholars and the variety of cultures explored in their essays--from fifteenth-century Flemish asceticism and nineteenth-century African-American spiritualism to Russian blood-libel trials and Alien Abduction Reports in the twentieth century--their common ground is the question of religion's place in current American academic analysis, and more broadly in American life today. The volume's range of vocabulary and subject matter is aimed at vitalizing scholarly interest in the field of religion and cultural studies and deepening intellectual inquiry in the contemporary academy. The contributors are Eytan Bercovitch, Karen McCarthy Brown, Gillian Feeley-Harnik, Richard Wightman Fox, Jenny Franchot, Giles Gunn, Geoffrey Galt Harpham, Bruce B. Lawrence, Jack Miles, Susan L. Mizruchi, and Jonathan Z. Smith.
Description : In ten brilliant essays, Jan Assmann explores the connections between religion, culture, and memory. Building on Maurice Halbwachs's idea that memory, like language, is a social phenomenon as well as an individual one, he argues that memory has a cultural dimension too. He develops a persuasive view of the life of the past in such surface phenomena as codes, religious rites and festivals, and canonical texts on the one hand, and in the Freudian psychodrama of repressing and resurrecting the past on the other. Whereas the current fad for oral history inevitably focuses on the actual memories of the last century or so, Assmann presents a commanding view of culture extending over five thousand years. He focuses on cultural memory from the Egyptians, Babylonians, and the Osage Indians down to recent controversies about memorializing the Holocaust in Germany and the role of memory in the current disputes between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East and between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Description : In recent years there has been an intensifying debate within the religious studies community about the validity of religion as an analytical category. In this book Fitzgerald sides with those who argue that the concept of religion itself should be abandoned. On the basis of his own research in India and Japan, and through a detailed analysis of the use of religion in a wide range of scholarly texts, the author maintains that the comparative study of religion is really a form of liberal ecumenical theology. By pretending to be a science, religion significantly distorts socio-cultural analysis. He suggest, however, that religious studies can be re-represented in a way which opens up new and productive theoretical connections with anthropology and cultural and literary studies.
Description : The collection provides insights on developments in post-traditional religiosity (especially 'New Age' and 'Neo-Paganism') through studies of rave's Gnostic narratives of ascensionism and re-enchantment, explorations of the embodied spirituality and millennialist predispositions of dance culture, and investigations of transnational digital-art countercultures manifesting at geographic locations as diverse as Goa, India, and Nevada's Burning Man festival. Contributors examine raving as a new religious or revitalization movement; a powerful locus of sacrifice and transgression; a lived bodily experience; a practice comparable with world entheogenic rituals; and as evidencing a new Orientalism. Rave Culture and Religion will be essential reading for advanced students and academics in the fields of sociology, cultural studies and religious studies.
Description : Looking at the intersection of religion and popular culture through a theoretical lens, this new text offers an insightful treatment of this topical area of study. Each chapter outlines different theories and explores how key ideologies inform and interact with aspects of popular culture, including television, film, music, and the Internet.
Description : The growing connections between media, culture and religion are increasingly evident in contemporary society, but until now have rarely been theoretically linked. The contributors to this volume effectively combine these areas into a coherent whole. The issues they examine include: the decline of religious institutions during the late twentieth century; the increasing autonomy and individualized practice of religion; and the surge of media and media-based icons that are often imbued with religious qualities, and the ensuing effect on cultural practices.
Description : In Overcoming Religious Illiteracy, Harvard professor and Phillips Academy teacher Diane L. Moore argues that though the United States is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, the vast majority of citizens are woefully ignorant about religion itself and the basic tenets of the world's major religious traditions. The consequences of this religious illiteracy are profound and include fueling the culture wars, curtailing historical understanding and promoting religious and racial bigotry. In this volume, Moore combines theory with practice to articulate how to incorporate the study of religion into the schools in ways that will invigorate classrooms and enhance democratic discourse in the public sphere.
Description : A century that began with modernism sweeping across Europe is ending with a remarkable resurgence of religious beliefs and practices throughout the world. Wherever one looks today, from headlines about political turmoil in the Middle East to pop music and videos, one cannot escape the pivotal role of religious beliefs and practices in shaping selves, societies, and cultures. Following in the very successful tradition of Critical Terms for Literary Studies and Critical Terms for Art History, this book attempts to provide a revitalized, self-aware vocabulary with which this bewildering religious diversity can be accurately described and responsibly discussed. Leading scholars working in a variety of traditions demonstrate through their incisive discussions that even our most basic terms for understanding religion are not neutral but carry specific historical and conceptual freight. These essays adopt the approach that has won this book's predecessors such widespread acclaim: each provides a concise history of a critical term, explores the issues raised by the term, and puts the term to use in an analysis of a religious work, practice, or event. Moving across Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Native American and Mayan religions, contributors explore terms ranging from experience, territory, and image, to God, sacrifice, and transgression. The result is an essential reference that will reshape the field of religious studies and transform the way in which religion is understood by scholars from all disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, cultural studies, gender studies, and literary studies.