Folklore | Ritual, Festival, Public Culture
F755 | 16643 | B. Stoeltje
Fulfills Theory or Form
Above class meets with ANTH-E678 and AMST-G751.
If we take ritual to be the social act basic to humanity, as
Rappaport argues, this formal event and the multiple related ritual
genres (festival, carnival, drama, contests, pilgrimage, etc.),
provide an arena for the exploration of the social response to
contradiction and change. Rituals intensify and condense
communication, creating an experimental technology, in the words of
the Comaroffs, to affect the flow of power in the universe, to plumb
the magicalities of modernity.
The course will focus on the larger concept of ritual genres as
performed in various locations. Using anthropological theories the
course will consider the production of ritual, the form itself, its
discourse, and performance. Selected studies will concentrate on
the public context of ritual and festival, the participation of
specific populations, and the outcomes, planned and unplanned.
Linking ritual to public culture, the course explores it as a
response to contradiction in social and political life. We will
consider the interaction of the ritual genres with politics,
tourism, history, identity, gender, the state, religion. Examples
will be drawn from rites of passage (traditional ones and newly
created ones), celebrations of an historical event or date,
occupational and seasonal festivals, carnival, rituals of domination
and rituals of resistance.
One emphasis will be placed on the relationship between
ritual/festival and its political contexts, including historical
era. Another important theme will be the relationship between
ritual and media in contemporary societies.
We will also consider the perspective of the individual who
experiences ritual through readings of both ethnographic accounts
Two papers on a ritual/festival event of your choice (contemporary
or historical), or on ritual theory - one 10 page and one 20 page.
Class presentation of your research.
Readings will include theoretical and ethnographic studies of the
ritual genres and will be drawn from cultures around the world.
Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World
Birgit Meyer and Annelies Moors, Religion, Media, and the Public
Arnold van Gennep, The Rites of Passage.