MYTH, RITUAL, AND FESTIVAL

  

Philosophy 45.374                                                              Whitley_Kaufman@uml.edu

Offce: Dugan 200G                                                                     Tel. 978 934 3913

 

WEBSITE:  http://faculty.uml.edu/whitley_kaufman/

 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION:   This course analyzes the social, cultural, and religious phenomena of the festival or holiday in its connection with myth and ritual.  We look at festivals such as the Roman Saturnalia, the British May Day festival, and our modern Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year celebrations.  The class will focus on two main approaches to understanding the festival: first, the anthropologist James Frazer in his book The Golden Bough, and second, the Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin and his analysis of the cross-cultural features of the idea of the festival.  We will also consider other important contributions to the study of ritual and festival, including those of Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Campbell.  A substantial part of the class will be focused on the sociological and historical aspects of the role of festival in modern society.  

 

 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:    Two in-class examinations                           40%

                                                        Two essays                                             60%

You must successfully complete all of the assignments in order to pass the class.  Students are expected to come to class having completed the reading or other assignments and ready and prepared to discuss them. 

 

VIDEO LECTURES: There will be period video lectures available on the Blackboard class website (for instructions on accessing Blackboard, see below).  Students will be responsible for viewing these videos when they are assigned.

 

ATTENDANCE POLICY:       Class attendance is required.  Those who miss a substantial number of classes will be required to do extra written work in order to pass the class.  Students who miss more than four weeks (i.e. 8 classes) will be liable to failure in the class, unless they have a documented medical reason for the missed classes.

 

 

REQUIRED BOOKS:                  Ehrenreich, Dancing In The Streets

                                                        James Frazer, The Golden Bough

 

 

SCHEDULE OF TOPICS:   

 

PART ONE

 

1. Myth and the study of Mythology

2.   James Frazer and the Golden Bough; the positivist theory of myth.

          

PART TWO: CARNIVAL AND LENT

5. Bakhtin, Rabelais and the idea of carnival and Lent

6. Carnival traditions past and present

7. The Suppression of Carnival in the modern world

 

PART THREE: THE RISE OF PATRIARCHAL RELIGION AND THE WITCH HUNT

8.  The Axial Age and the revolution in religion; patriarchy and moralized religion

9. Suppression of the goddess cult and human sacrifice

10.  The Great European Witch Hunt: why?

 

PART FOUR: UNIVERSAL MYTHOLOGY

11. The Hero Myth worldwide

12. The Dying God tradition

13. The Tree of Life and the Dragon

14. The Hero Pattern and Structuralism

 

 

ACADEMIC HONESTY: students are responsible for knowing the UML policy on academic honesty.  Briefly: any ideas or words taken from an outside source must be credited to that source.

 

 

Blackboard Access Information for Students

 

To get your Blackboard username and password:

 

1. Go to http://continuinged.uml.edu/online/confirmation/

2. Carefully enter the information required to retrieve your username and password.

3. Print out the confirmation screen for your records.

 

To access the online supplement for your course:

 

1. Go to https://continuinged.uml.edu/login/login.cfm

2. Enter your Blackboard username and password and click the Login button.