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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2004

T C 357 • Psychology and Religion in Modern American Culture

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39675 M
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
GAR 301

Course Description

This course will track and interpret the interpenetration of religious and psychological cultures in America during the 20th century and their use in facing personal conflicts and malaises as well as defining the "meaning of life." It will especially focus on ways in which psychotherapies of various types and fashions became a dominant mode of grappling with life crises where once pastoral counseling and other religious roads had once been favored. The influence of psychotherapeutic techniques on the ministry and lately, the growing recognition among psychotherapists that there exist crises in life truly spiritual and philosophical in nature, are two core phenomena with which we will deal. We will also look at the uneasy place of psychology in theology and vice-versa in psychological theory. In the end, we will perhaps have attained a view of broader cultural phenomena that defy simple explanation or categorizations, yet deeply affect the course of our lives.

About the professor: Professor Abzug teaches and writes in various fields of American intellectual and social history. He is especially interested in the fate of the spiritual life in a society committed to religious pluralism. His book, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (1994) interprets the nature of interaction of religion and social reform in the pre-Civil War period. He is currently writing a biography of the psychologist Rollo May (1909-1994), one that concentrates on the uneasy marriage of religion and psychology in the modern era. Abzug also teaches and writes on the history of the Holocaust. He has published Inside the Vicious Heart: Americans and the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps (1985) and America Views the Holocaust (1999), and has been a consultant on various projects for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. He has held major research grants from the ACLS, NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and has won several major teaching awards at UT. He is married, has two children, 15 and 20 years old, and an incurably neurotic (or is it a spiritual malaise) 120 lb. Bernese Mountain Dog.

Grading Policy

Class Participation and Weekly 1 page response papers: 30% 5 page paper concerning an individual reading: 25% 10 page final paper on topic of your choice (with approval): 45%


William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience Peter Berger, A Rumor of Angels Robert Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling Rollo May, The Discovery of Being Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio Sigmund Freud, Wild Analysis Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul And select other small readings distributed as handouts.


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