History | Occult in America: Living in a Mystical World
A200 | 31251 | Andrews


American culture is haunted. The first English settlers, looking for
a place to practice Christianity, brought their beliefs in
witchcraft tucked inside of their leather-bound Bibles. During the
Enlightenment, often called the “Age of Reason,” Americans
maintained a constant and powerful interest in the invisible, the
magical, and the occult. In the decades surrounding the Civil War,
new religious movements flourished and religious and occult ideas
played a prominent role in the popular culture of the United States.
The New Age, Scientology, channeling, wicca, apocalyptic
predictions, "Crossing Over" and Heaven’s Gate – even our modern day
American culture seems preoccupied by radical social movements and
alternative religions. This class will attempt to understand and
explain why these ideas and themes have been so attractive to
Americans. We will explore why new religious movements have found
such success in the United States, and why Americans have held on to
this fascination with worlds beyond the edge of reason. As you might
imagine, this class hits many potentially sensitive issues like
religion, politics, and how and why people believe the things they
do. Be prepared to get into the minds of some very odd and
disturbing (but fascinating) people.