Words & Worship
Instructor: Simon Coleman
Office: Rm. 333, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George St.
Office Hours: Tuesday 2-3pm, Thursday 1-2pm, and by appointment (please use email if you want to make an appointment)
How are we to analyze the words that Christians use? How might oral forms compare with written ones? And how should we try to understand the relationships between religious language and ritual action without seeing one as merely derived from the other? This course provides the opportunity both to explore theories of language use and to apply them to forms of verbal discourse ranging from prayers, sermons, speaking in tongues, and citing biblical verses to more informal narratives. Protestant and Catholic attitudes to religious language are examined in ways that sometimes reinforce, something challenge, theological distinctions between the two, and there will be the opportunity for students to bring their own texts (possibly derived from their own proposed areas of research) for analysis. Various techniques for the analysis of ritual texts are explored and evaluated, and the advantages and disadvantages of close textual analysis are discussed. While I will be presenting techniques of ‘reading’ texts derived mostly from social scientific literatures, you are welcome to incorporate other methods as appropriate.
I shall be making relevant texts available on Blackboard (marked ‘B’) as well as using journal articles that should be accessible electronically (marked ‘E’). While this course outline provides a guide to some of the main texts I obviously do not object to you drawing on good research that is not mentioned here – in fact I encourage it.
Attendance and Participation 10%
Class Presentation 10%
Critical Review Essay 20%
Term Paper 60%
Attendance and Participation
Regular attendance and active participation in this course are essential to your success and to your ability to support others on the course. Please notify me in advance if for an unavoidable reason you have to miss a session. A good tip is to come to each class thinking of at least one idea that you found interesting in the readings, as well as one point or argument that you disagreed with.
In the second half of the course, you will be asked to provide a text or texts for the class to analyze for one or more of the classes (depending on number of students enrolled). You will lead the discussion of the text, having provided me with a copy of it to put on Blackboard by the Monday before the class. For a given class, you can ask people to read one or two texts, substantial enough to sustain discussion (led by you) for around half an hour.
Critical Review Essay
You will be required to write a critical review essay of one approach to analyzing the interaction between words and worship, taken from the first five weeks of the course. Your essay should be 5 pages in length (including notes but excluding bibliography; Times New Roman, Font 12pt; Spacing 1.5). Consult with me as you plan the essay.
These assignments should be handed to me directly at the beginning of the fifth class.
You will be required to write a 12-page term paper (including notes but excluding bibliography) on a topic chosen in consultation with me. The paper should involve the application of methods/theories of textual analysis to one or at most two texts. You may juxtapose one or more methods/theories in order to assess their utility and applicability to the texts you choose. You should hand in copies of the texts along with the essay.
I suggest using the University of Chicago style for footnotes and the bibliography (author-date method). A very useful quick guide is at http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html However, if you wish to use another method that is fine as long as you use it consistently, and provide all the relevant information.
These assignments should be handed to me directly at the beginning of the final class.
I much prefer your assignments to be typed (but according to U of T regulations handwritten work that is neat and legible is accepted for evaluation in the normal fashion). You should retain copies of your assignments at least until you receive them back.
Summary of Submission Dates:
February 7 – Critical Review Essay
April 4 – Term Paper
Religious Holidays and Observances
According to U of T regulations: “It is important that no University member be seriously disadvantaged because of her or his religious observation. Students have an obligation to alert members of the teaching staff in a timely fashion to upcoming religious observances and anticipated absences. Every effort will be made avoid scheduling tests, examinations or other compulsory activity at these times.”
Missed and Late Assignments
You need to obtain proper documentation of your illness and you must contact me as soon as possible. Do not wait until the assignment’s due date has passed!
- All late assignments will be penalized 2% as soon as they are late, and then 2% extra per 24-hour period up to a maximum of five days (including weekends). After five days, late assignments will no longer be accepted unless there is clear evidence of a good reason for the delay. You must email me a copy of your late assignment as soon as it is completed, to demonstrate the time of submission; you need also to ensure that I receive a hard copy.
- Extensions will only be granted if you provide proper documentation. If you fall ill, please print out a copy of the “student medical certificate” and have it signed by your physician (http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/current/undergraduate/forms).
- Please bring proper forms of documentation to the next class. Even though you have been in email contact with me, proper documentation is required.
- Jobs or other commitments that require your frequent absence, late arrival or early departure from class will significantly affect your attendance and participation grade.
- With this syllabus, all work has been assigned and made public in advance. It is your responsibility to plan ahead so that you can successfully complete and submit all assigned work on its announced due date. It is possible that you will have multiple assignments due for your various courses on the same day or week. Plan ahead, as this is not grounds for granting an extension. Only in the case of long-term illness lasting more than one week and which is properly documented, will an extension be considered.
- Save, save, save. Email assignments to yourself. I will not grant extensions for computer and/or printer malfunctions.
Plagiarism is a very serious, punishable offence that can result in a failing grade for this course. All use of words or ideas from the published works of another individual or individuals must be properly acknowledged. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism. Please note that changing a few words in text(s) from other writers does not make it your own. If you paraphrase, please give the name of the authors, dates of publication and page numbers. In general, you should use direct quotations and paraphrases sparingly. If there is uncertainty regarding what constitutes plagiarism, or what are acceptable forms of citation and referencing, students should consult the instructor. Please see the following website for more information: http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/plagsep.html.
Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me as soon as possible.
January 10: Beginnings: Words as Worship?
I am not expecting you to have read anything for this introductory session, but I shall probably be drawing on texts mentioned later in this course outline, as well as:
Bialecki, Jon and Hoenes del Pinal, Eric ‘Introduction: Beyond Logos: Extensions of the Language Ideology Paradigm in the Study of Global Christianity(-ies)’ Anthropological Quarterly 84 Special Issue, 2011: 575-593.
Fenn, Richard. Liturgies and Trials: The Secularization of Religious Language. Oxford: Blackwell, 1982.
Keane, Webb. ‘Religious Language’ Annual Review of Anthropology 26 (1997): 47-71.
Keane, Webb ‘Language and Religion’. In Alessandro Duranti (ed.) A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
Kirsch, Thomas. Spirits and Letters: Reading, Writing and Charisma in African Christianity. Oxford, Berghahn, 2008.
Martin, David. ‘The Language of Christianity’. In Christian Language and its Mutations. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002.
Robbins, Joel. ‘Ritual Communication and Linguistic Ideology: A Reading and Partial
Reformulation of Rappaport’s Theory of Ritual.’ Current Anthropology 42 (2001): 589-612.
January 17: Songs and Sermons: Authority, Formality, Orality
Bloch, Maurice ‘Symbols, Song, Dance and Features of Articulation: Is Religion an Extreme Form of Traditional Authority?’ European Journal of Sociology 15 (1974): 54-81. [E]
Irvine, Judith. ‘Formality and Informality in Communicative Events’ American Anthropologist 81 (1979): 773-790. [E]
Bauman, Richard. Let Your Words Be Few: Symbolism of Speaking and Silence among Seventeenth Century Quakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Csordas, Thomas. ‘Ritual Language: Speaking the Kingdom’ and ‘Prophetic Utterance and Sacred Reality’. Chs. 6 and 7 in Language, Charisma and Creativity: The Ritual Life of a Religious Movement. Berkeley; University of California 1997.
Engelke, Matthew. ‘Clarity and Charisma: On the Uses of Ambiguity in Ritual Life’. In Matthew Engelke and Matt Tomlinson (eds) The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity Oxford: Berghahn, 2006.
Hoenes Del Pinal, Eric. ‘How Q’eqchi’-Maya Catholics Become Legitimate Interpreters of the Bible’ in James Bielo (ed.) The Social Life of Scriptures: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biblicism. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Sødal, Helje Kringlebotn ‘‘‘Victor, not Victim’’: Joel Osteen’s Rhetoric of Hope’ Journal of Contemporary Religion, 25 (2010): 37–50.
Wharry, Cheryl. ‘Amen and Hallelujah Preaching: Discourse Functions in African American Sermons’ Language in Society 32 (2003): 203-225.
January 24: Voices: Words across Spaces and Persons
Cannell, Fenella ‘Spirit Mediums and Séance Forms: Changing Relations to the Spirit World’. In Power and Intimacy in the Christian Philippines Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. [B]
Coleman, Simon ‘Voices: Presence and Prophecy in Charismatic Ritual’. In Martin Lindhardt (ed.) Practicing the Faith: The Ritual Life of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians. Oxford: Berghahn, 2011. [B]
Harding, Susan ‘The Art of Jerry Falwell’ from The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics Princeton University Press: Princeton, 2000. [B]
Bialecki, Jon. ‘No Caller ID for the Soul: Demonization, Charisms, and the Unstable Subject of Protestant Language Ideology’ Anthropological Quarterly 84 (2011): 679-703.
Keane, Webb. Pp.138-145 in Signs of Recognition: Powers and Hazards of Representation in an Indonesian Society. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Robbins, Joel. ‘On Not Knowing Other Minds: Confession, Intention, and Linguistic Exchange in a Papua New Guinea Community’. Anthropological Quarterly 81(2008): 421-429.
Tannen, Barbara. Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
January 31: Presences: Mediations and Transcendences
Engelke, Matthew ‘Text and Performance in an African Christian Church: The Book, “Live and Direct” in Zimbabwe’ American Ethnologist 31 (2004): 76-91. [See also Ch. 5 of his book A Problem of Presence ] [E]
Orsi, Robert. ‘The Many Names of the Mother of God’ in his Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars who Study Them. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [B]
Bialecki, Jon ‘The Bones Restored to Life: Dialogue and Dissemination in the Vineyards’s Dialectic of Text and Presence’. In James Bielo (ed.) The Social Life of Scriptures: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biblicism. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009.
The rest of Engelke 2007.
Keane, Webb ‘Introduction’. In Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.
February 7: Sincerities: Transparency, Modernity, Authenticity
Keane, Webb ‘Sincerity, “Modernity”, and the Protestants’. Cultural Anthropology 17: 65-92. [B]
Shoaps. Robin ‘”Pray Earnestly”: The Textual Construction of Personal Involvement in Pentecostal Prayer and Song’ Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 12 (2002): 34-71. [E]
Keane, Webb ‘Anxious Transcendence’. In Fenella Cannell ed. The Anthropology of Christianity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006.
Or Keane, Webb. ‘Modern Sincerity’. In Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. [B]
February 14: Conversions: Self, Other, and Self as Other
Harding, Susan ‘Speaking is Believing’. In The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics Princeton University Press: Princeton, 2000. [Also published as Harding, Susan. ‘Convicted by the Holy Spirit: The Rhetoric of Fundamentalist Baptist Conversion’. American Ethnologist 14 (1987):167-181. [E]]
Stromberg, Peter Language and Self-Transformation: A Study of the Christian Conversion Narrative, 1993. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Preface, Introduction, Chapters 2-3. [B]
Buckser, Andrew and Glazier, Stephen (eds) The Anthropology of Religious Conversion Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.
Coleman, Simon. ‘On Mirrors, Masks and Traps: Ambiguity, Risk and “Lateral Participation” in Ritual’. Journal of Ritual Studies 23 (2009): 43-52.
Luhrmann, Tanya. When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. New York: Knopf Publishing Group, 2012..
Text from SC
February 19-22 Reading Week, No Class
February 28: Bodies: From Signs to Selves
Csordas, Thomas Ch. 2 ‘Religion in the Postmodern Condition’ in Language, Charisma and Creativity: The Ritual Life of a Religious Movement Berkeley; University of California 1997. [B]
Luhrmann, Tanya. ‘Metakinesis: How God Becomes Intimate in Contemporary U.S. Christianity’. American Anthropologist 106 (2004): 518-528. [E]
Mitchell. Jon ‘A Moment with Christ: The Importance of Feelings in the Analysis of Belief’ The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 3 (1997): 79-94. [E]
Heones del Pinal, Eric. ‘Towards an Ideology of Gesture: Gesture, Body Movement, and Language Ideology Among Q’eqchi’-Maya Catholics’ Anthropological Quarterly 84 (2011): 595-630.
Luhrmann, Tanya, Nusbaum, Howard and Thisted, Ronald ‘The Absorption Hypothesis: Learning to Hear God in Evangelical Christianity American Anthropologist 112 (2010): 66-78.
March 7: Prayers: Risks, Recognitions, Failures
Orsi, Robert. ‘“Have You Ever Prayed to Saint Jude?” Reflections in Fieldwork in Catholic Chicago’, in his Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars who Study Them. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [B]
Robbins, Joel ‘God is Nothing But Talk: Modernity, Language and Prayer in a Papua New Guinea Society’ American Anthropologist 103 (2001): 901-912. [E]
Bornstein, Erica ‘Rituals without Final Acts: Prayer and Success in World Vision Zimbabwe’s Humanitarian Work’. In Engelke, Matthew and Tomlinson, Matt 2006 The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity Oxford: Berghahn, 2006.
Gill, Sam. Sacred Words: A Study of Navajo Religion and Prayer. Westport, Conn.:Greenwood, 1981.
Goody, Esther. ‘Social Intelligence and Prayer as Dialogue’. In Esther Goody (ed.) Social Intelligence and Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Keane, Webb ‘Text, Context and Displacement’. Ch. 5 in Signs of Recognition: Powers and Hazards of Representation in an Indonesian Society. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Mauss, Marcel. On Prayer. Oxford: Berghahn. 2003. Translation of Mauss 1909.
Tomlinson, Matt. ‘Ritual, Risk, and Danger: Chain Prayers in Fiji’ American Anthropologist 106 (2004): 6-16.
March 21: Translations: Semantics, Semiotics, Politics
Cannell, Fenella ‘Reading as Gift and Writing as Theft’. In Fenella Cannell (ed.) The Anthropology of Christianity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. [B]
Saler, Benson: ‘The Ethnographer as Pontifex’. In Paula Rubel and Abraham Rosman (eds.) Translating Cultures: Perspectives on Translation and Anthropology. Oxford: Berg, 2003. [B]
Engelke, Matthew ‘The Semiotics of Relevance: Campaigning for the Bible in Greater Manchester’ Anthropological Quarterly 84 (2011): 706-735. [E]
Handman, Courtney. “Speaking to the Soul: On Native Language and Authenticity in Papua New Guinea Bible Translation.” In Miki Makihara and Bambi Schieffelin(eds.) Consequence of Contact: Language Ideologies and Sociocultural Transformations in Pacific Societies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Meyer, Birgit Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity among the Ewe in Ghana. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Rafael, Vincente. Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society Under Early Spanish Rule. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992.
Samson, C. Mathews ‘The Word of God and “Our Words”: The Bible and Translation in a Mam Maya Context’ in James Bielo (ed.) The Social Life of Scriptures: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biblicism. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009.
Schieffelin, Bambi. “Found in Translating: Reflexive Language Across Time and Texts in Bosavi, Papua New Guinea.” In Miki Makihara and Bambi Schieffelin(eds.) Consequence of Contact: Language Ideologies and Sociocultural Transformations in Pacific Societies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Schieffelin, Bambi. “Tok bokis, tok piksa: Translating parables in Papua New Guinea.” In Miriam Meyerhoff and Naomi Nagy(eds.) Social Lives in Language: Sociolinguistics and Multilingual Speech Communities,. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008.
Tomlinson, Matt. ‘Retheorizing Mana: Bible Translation and Discourse of Loss in Fiji’. Oceania 76 (2006): 150-172.
March 28: Literalisms and Meta-Literalisms
Ammerman, Nancy Bible Believers: Fundamentalists in the Modern World. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Ch. 4 ‘Being Always Ready to Give an Answer’. [B]
Crapanzano, Vince Serving the Word: Literalism in America from the Pulpit to the Bench New York: The New Press, 2000. Chapter 1: ‘Election’. [B]
Coleman, Simon “When Silence isn’t Golden: Charismatic Speech and the Limits of Literalism”. In Matt Tomlinson and Matthew Engelke (eds.) Ritual and the Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity Oxford: Berghahn, 2006.
Harding, Susan ‘The Moral Majority Jeremiad’. Ch. 6 in The Book of Jerry Falwell.
Muse, Erika. ‘Chinese American Christian Women of New England’. In James Bielo (ed.) The Social Life of Scriptures: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biblicism. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009.
April 4: Meanings: A False Quest?
Engelke, Matthew and Tomlinson, Matt. ‘Introduction’. The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity Oxford: Berghahn, 2006. [B]
Orta, Andrew ‘Dusty Signs and Roots of Faith: The Limits of Christian Meaning in Highland Bolivia’. In Engelke, Matthew and Tomlinson, Matt The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity Oxford: Berghahn, 2006. [B]
Tomlinson, Matthew 2006 ‘The Limits of Meaning in Fijian Methodist Sermons’. In Engelke, Matthew and Tomlinson, Matt. The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity Oxford: Berghahn, 2006. [B]
Robbins, Joel 2006 ‘Afterword: On Limits, Ruptures, Meaning, and Meaninglessness. In Engelke, Matthew and Tomlinson, Matt The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity Oxford: Berghahn, 2006.