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Martha G. Newman, Chair BUR 529, Mailcode A3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-7737

Spring 2008

R S 373 • What is Religion?

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
44605 MW
4:00 PM-5:30 PM
mez 1.102

Course Description

Religion has been a powerful force throughout human history, but what kind of force is it? This course allows students to examine some of the most important answers to that question from the last 150 years of academic study. We will consider psychological, sociological, economic, phenomenological, and anthropological explanations of religion. Participants in the course will also choose examples of religious phenomena and see how well the theories apply to those examples. Course sessions will emphasize discussion and analysis.

Grading Policy

50% Research paper. Stages include: proposal, outline, bibliography, 1st draft, 2nd draft
10% Peer review of first drafts
10% Short analyses: applying theories to examples
10% Reading summaries
20% Attendance and participation


Daniel Pals, Eight Theories of Religion
Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion
Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
Karl Marx, The Portable Karl Marx
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion
Reserve Readings


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