American religious culture is not only exceptional for its vigor but also for an increasingly creative fostering of spiritual experimentation and pluralism. It has been especially unusual in the role that psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic ideas have played in modern American spiritual quests. This seminar explores the historical, religious, and psychotherapeutic manifestations of the “search for meaning” in modern American culture. We will begin in the 19th century with spiritualism and other alternative religious paths, and quickly move to the 20th century and the uneasy and sometimes hostile interactions between formal religion, psychotherapies, and everyday experiences of illumination and transcendence. Our explorations will take us through theology, psychological theory, literature, music, politics, and art. For their term reports, students may write on topics of their choice on any aspect of the intersection of psychology and religion.
Readings (Viewings, Listenings) (examples open to revision):
Sigmund Freud, selections on religion (pdfs accessed through Canvas)
Jessica Grogan, Encountering America: Humanistic Psychology, Sixties Culture, and the Shaping of the Modern Self
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul
Rollo May,Psychology and the Human Dilemma
Various examples from music, art, and drama illustrating themes in the course.
Perfect Attendance at Seminar and timely completion of reading assignments
Active Participation in Seminar
Weekly Ungraded Responses to Readings (300 words) (critiqued for content/style)
Term report presented to class and as 15 page paper on topic chosen by student in conjunction with and approved by professor
Class Participation, Including Oral Reports and Reading Discussions (40%)
On Time Completion of All Responses to Weekly Readings (20%)
Graded Oral Report and 15-page term paper (40%)
Office Hours: Wednesdays TBA or by appt. firstname.lastname@example.org