Religious Studies | Topics in American Religious History: Religion, Illness, and Healing
R434 | 25615 | C. Brown


Class carries COLL A&H distribution

Is illness good or evil?  How are religion, scientific
medicine, and alternative remedies related?  Can religion be good
(or bad) for your health?  How is spiritual healing practiced?  Why
are healing claims so often hotly contested?  This course will
explore these and other questions that arise in American cultural
discourses surrounding religion, illness, and healing.  Assignments
and classroom activities will draw upon a wide variety of cultural
artifacts, such as empirical research, cartoons, audio and video
recordings, fiction, internet resources, and feature films.  The
course will develop skills in critical thinking, written and oral
communication, and analysis of primary and secondary documents.
There are no specific prerequisites for enrollment in this
course, but some basic familiarity with American religious history
will be assumed.  The course will be conducted as an advanced
discussion seminar; active participation by all enrolled students is
expected.  The professor will spend limited time lecturing and
presenting audiovisual materials, reserving much time for lively
discussion.

We will read both primary and secondary sources that
consider course themes from various vantage points. The course will
emphasize healing practices (such as divine healing and deliverance,
a.k.a. exorcism) that stem from Christian beliefs and practices, but
we will also consider approaches to health and healing (such as
chiropractic, yoga, Tai Chi, acupuncture, homeopathy, macrobiotic
diets, Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, Mindfulness Meditation,
curanderismo) that draw upon a wider range of religious traditions.
In addition, we will discuss medical and psychotherapeutic
approaches.

Students will be evaluated on consistency and quality of
participation in class discussions and on completion of a term
research project (including submission of a paper prospectus,
annotated bibliography, outline, rough draft, and final paper of 10-
20 pages).  Graduate students will write a more extensive research
paper (20-30 pages).  There will not be a midterm or final
examination for either undergraduate or graduate students.