Religion 371 W: Research and Writing in Religious Studies

Samford University, Department of Religion, Fall 2003


Mon., Wed., 2:15 to 4:05pm, 322 Chapman Hall


David R. Bains, Assistant Professor
  325 Chapman Hall, phone: 726-2879, email:
Office Hours:  Mon. 4:05-5:00pm, Tues. & Thurs.  2-4pm.  If you cannot meet during these times, please let me know and we can set up an alternative.


Course Description:

Students develop analytical, research, and writing skills in religious studies   In a small-seminar format, students will engage in reading and analysis of both primary and secondary materials.  They will also engage in a directed research paper.  The focus of the course in fall 2003 will be religion in the United States during the Cold War era (1945-1989).


Goals:  Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

·       Identify and explain various disciplines within religious studies.

·       Interpret primary sources using a variety of disciplines.

·       Evaluate research in religious studies from a variety of critical perspectives.

·       Generate and complete a research design on a topic of in religious studies.

·       Present the results of their research with clarity and grace in both written and oral form.

·       Discuss the major developments in American religious life during the second half of the twentieth century.

Required Texts:

Booth, Wayne C., Joseph W. Williams, and Gregory C. Colomb. The Craft of Research. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Hacker, Diane. A Writer's Reference. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford Books, 1999.

Marsh, Charles. God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Massa, Mark S. Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team. New York: Crossroad, 1999.

Wuthnow, Robert. The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and Faith Since World War II. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Reading Packet


Academic Integrity:

Students are expected to observe high standards of intellectual integrity. Read the "Ethics of Research" in The Craft of Research, pp. 285-288.  Also see the relevant section of the Student Handbook and the University Catalog.  Study groups are encouraged, but all work submitted in this class must be your own.  Suspected lapses in academic integrity will be investigated and adjudicated in accordance with the University's values policy.

For information on the format of papers and citations see my handout "Guidelines for Essays in Religion."


Attendance and Grading / Department of Religion:

Roll will be taken each day.  In a MW class a student may miss four classes without penalty.  After the fifth absence your final grade will be reduced one letter grade.  After the seventh absence the student will receive an FA for the course.  Three tardies count as one absence.  If you come in after your name is called, you will need to notify your professor at the end of the class period, or else the tardy will become an absence.  The Department of Religion grading scale is:

A= 100%-95%, A- = 94%-92%

B+ = 91%-88%, B = 87% - 85%, B- = 84%-82%

C+ = 81% - 78%, C = 77%-74%, C- = 73% - 70%

D+ = 69% - 66%, D = 65% - 63%, D- = 62% -60%;   F = 59% and below


Papers that are turned in after the set due date will be penalized one full letter grade for each week that they are late during the first half of term.  No credit will be given to late assignments leading up to the final paper (those from Oct. 20 on).  Ordinarily, I do not accept email submission of papers.  It is your responsibility to submit a paper copy.


Samford University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students with disabilities who seek accommodations must make their request by contacting Disability Support Services located in Counseling Services on the lower level

of Pittman Hall, or call 726-4078.  A faculty member will grant reasonable accommodations only upon written notification from Disability Support Services.


Course Requirements:

"Scholar Report" (10%)  Students will prepare a 3-page handout and class presentation on a major thinker in the study of religion.

Other Assignments in first half of term (40%)  This includes serving as discussion leader (probably twice), short essays, bibliography, and other exercises.  It also includes your overall participation in discussions.  See the course outline below.

Research project (various stages) (50%)  Students will complete a closely-supervised research project on a topic of they choose in consultation with the instructor.  The final paper will be a scholarly paper of 12-15 pages presenting original research.  The grade for the research project will be based on the following:

Preliminary topic and Bibliography & Research Problem (5%)

Annotated Bibliography (5%)

Outline (5%)

First Draft (10%)

Complete Draft (10%)

Participation in peer-review of drafts (5%)

Final paper (60%)


Course Outline (Subject to Revision):


1.     August 25: Introduction to Religious Studies
What is religion? or By majoring in religion, what do you expect to study?
Why do you study religion?
How do you study religion?  a.) How do you gain information?  b.) How do you process this information into knowledge?

2.     August 27: Religion in Cold War America: overview
Assignment: Surveys of Religion in America exercise (see handout).  Craft, pp. 97-108 may prove helpful.

3.     Sept. 1: Approaches to the Study of Religion
Reading: Terry G. Muck, The Mysterious Beyond: A Basic Guide to Studying Religion (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1993), 19-69, 113-128.
Gary E. Kessler, "The Field of Religious Studies," chapter 2 of Studying Religion: An Introduction Through Cases (Boston: McGraw Hill, 2003), 18-32.
Primary sources: 
• Prentiss, Craig R. “The Power of Positive Thinking.” In Religions of the United States in Practice, edited by Colleen McDannell, 251-267. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001.  Includes Norman Vincent Peale, "Try Prayer Power" Chapter 4 of The Power of Positive Thinking.  Prentice-Hall, 1952.
• "We Need a Revival!" and "Judgement" in Revival in Our Time: The Story of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Campaigns, Including Six of His Sermons (Wheaton, Ill.: Van Kampen Press, 1950), 51-62, 125-140 reprinted in Joel A. Carpenter, ed., The Early Billy Graham Sermon and Revival Accounts (New York: Garland, 1988).
Recommended Reading: Ninian Smart, "Study of Religion" Encyclopedia Britannica [online] and in print.

4.     Sept. 3:
Reading: Craft of Research, 1-55; Wuthnow, 1-53
• Thomas Merton, The Seven Story Mountain (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1948),y 147-158, 316-325, 372-385, 413-423
• Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966; reprinted Garden City, N.Y.: Image, 1968),153-158.
Assignment: Short Essay on Post-War Revival (details to be provided)

5.     Sept. 8:  Meet in Library
Reading: Craft of Research, 56-108
Assignment: Begin work on Annotated bibliography assignment

6.     Sept. 10: Approaches to Biblical Studies:
Guest class leaders: Paul Holloway and Joseph Scrivner
Assignment: Bibliography due [on Friday, Sept. 12]

7.     Sept. 15: Reading: Wuthnow, ch 4-5, pp. 54-99; Massa, introduction, ch 1, pp. 1-37
Individual Assignments: Scholar report on Reinhold Niebuhr and Theology
Scholar report on Mary Douglas and cultural anthropology

8.     Sept. 17:  Reading: Massa,, ch 2-3, pp. 38-81; Craft, 109-126
Individual Assignments: Scholar report on Erik Erikson and psychology of religion
Scholar report on Clifford Geertz and cultural anthropology
Discussion leader for Massa, chapter 2
Discussion leader for Massa, chapter 3
Assignment: Evaluating Massa's arguments

9.     Sept. 22: Paradigms of Christ and Culture
Reading: Massa,, ch 4-5, pp. 82-127
Screening:  "Life is Worth Living"
Individual Assignments: Scholar report on H. Richard Niebuhr and sociology of religion and theology
Scholar report on Victor Turner and ritual studies
Discussion leader for Massa, chapter 4
Discussion leader for Massa, chapter 5

10.  Sept. 24: Theology, the University, and Arguments
Reading: Massa, ch 9, pp. 195-221; Craft, 127-150
Individual Assignments: Discussion leader for Massa, chapter 9, pp. 195-221
Assignment:  Essay on religious identity and higher education

11.  Sept. 29: Mid-Twentieth Century Religious transformation
Reading:  Wuthnow, ch 6-10, pp. 100-267
Individual Assignments: Scholar report: critical reception of Restructuring of American Religion

12.  Oct. 1: Sociology of Religion
Reading: Massa, ch. 6, pp. 128-147
Penny Long Marler, “Lost in the Fifties: The Changing Family and the Nostalgic Church,” in Work, Family, and Religion in Contemporary Society, ed. Nancy Tatom Ammerman and Wade Clark Roof (New York: Routledge, 1995), 23-60.
Craft, chapter 15, 241-262
Individual Assignments:  Scholar report on Peter Berger and sociology of religion
Discussion leader for Massa, chapter 6
Discussion Leader for Marler
Guest Presentation: Penny Long Marler

13.  Oct. 6: Catholicism and the 1960s
Reading:  Massa, ch. 7-8, pp. 148-194; Craft, pp. 151-182
Individual Assignments:  Scholar report on Emile Durkheim (sociology of religion) and the study of religion as "practice" or "lived religion" in the United States.
Scholar report on Max Weber
Scholar report on critical reception of Massa
Discussion leader for Massa, chapter 7
Discussion leader for Massa, chapter 8
Assignment:  Evaluating acknowledgements and responses in Massa

14.  Oct. 8: Reading: Susan Friend Harding, "Preface and Acknowledgements," chapter 3, chapter 6 The Book of Jerry Falwell (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000), ix-xiv, 85-104, 153-182
Discussion leader for Harding
Scholar report on critical reception of Harding
Discussion of possible topics for research

15.  Oct. 15: Visual Culture Studies
Reading:  Morgan, David, "Warner Sallman and the Visual Culture of American Protestantism" and "'Would Jesus Have Sat for a Portrait?' The Likeness of Christ in the Popular Reception of Sallman's Art" in  Icons of American Protestantism: The Art of Warner Sallman. Ed. idem.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. Pp. 25-60, 181-206.
Discussion leader for Morgan
Scholar report on critical reception of Morgan (this work and others)
Discussion of possible topics for research
Assignment: Methodology Exercise

16.  Oct. 20
Reading: Marsh, Introduction and Chapter 1, pp. 3-48
Assignment: Topic and Preliminary Bibliography Due
Workshop: Topics to Questions to Problems review Craft 1-74

17.  Oct. 22
Reading: Marsh, Chapter 2, pp. 49-81
Workshop: Questions to Problems to Sources, review Craft 75-106

18.  Oct. 27
Reading: Marsh, Chapter 3, pp. 82-115 & other to be assigned
Assignment: Research Problem Due see page 66
Workshop: Refining problems, examining your sources

19.  Oct. 29
Reading: Marsh, Chapter 4, pp. 116-151 & other to be assigned
Workshop: your sources

20.  Nov. 3
Reading: Marsh, Chapter 5 and conclusions, pp. 152-194 & other to be assigned
Assignment: Annotated Bibliography Due
Scholar report on critical reception of Morgan (this work and others)
Workshop: your sources

21.  Nov. 5: Workshop: Working toward outlines
Reading: Craft, 183-207; review Craft 109-182

22.  Nov. 10: Workshop: Working toward drafts
Assignment: Outline & Partial Drafts Due

23.  Nov. 12 Workshop: Working toward draft

24.  Nov. 17: Workshop: Revising drafts
Assignment: First Draft Due

25.  Nov. 19: Workshop: Revising drafts

26.  Nov. 24: Workshop: Revising drafts

27.  Dec. 1: Workshop: Revising drafts
Assignment: Complete Draft Due

28.  Dec. 3: Workshop: Revising drafts

Final Paper due:  Wednesday, December 10, 5pm