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

Spring 2009

R S 383 • Ritual, Culture, & Society

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43825 M
6:00 PM-9:00 PM
BUR 436A

Course Description

This graduate seminar explores the manner in which humans translate symbols and meanings into action through ritual performance. We will consider intersections between ritual, magic, and curing, ritual and mythology, ritual and the body, and consider ritual as a form of enacting beliefs and narratives. The course will focus on the analysis of symbolic and ritual forms and will consider theorists and schools of thought that have been important in the study of ritual.

Grading Policy

In addition to writing short reaction papers in response to readings, students will be expected to conduct a small field study of a ritual that takes place in the Austin area during the semester. Thus, the course is intended to provide a working opportunity to develop expertise in ethnographic field methods in addition to a better theoretical understanding of ritual.


Readings for the course may include:
Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions, by Catherine Bell
The Ritual Process, by Victor Turner
Theater, Sacrifice, Ritual, by Erika Fischer-Lichte
Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People, by Roy Rappaport
And varied ethnographic writings focusing on specific ritual practices in different societies


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