Religion 498 W: Senior Seminar—Sacred Space revised: August 26, 2005
Mon., Wed. 2:15-4:05, 320 Chapman Hall
David R. Bains, Associate Professor
Office: 325 Chapman Hall, phone: 726-2879, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: Mon., Wed., Fri., 8:30-10:30am. Other times available by appointment.
This seminar focuses on sacred space. For the purposes of this course a "sacred space" is a place, building, or landscape that is either charged with a surplus of meaning or used for ritual activity. These definitions include all buildings dedicated to religious ritual (churches, temples, mosques, monasteries, etc.), all places where the divine is thought to manifested itself (Sinai, Jerusalem, Palmyra, N.Y.), but it also may include places charged with a "surplus of meaning." That is places that are very meaningful. Places whose significance extends beyond themselves. They are regarded as symbolic of values and events that transcend their immediate bounds ("ground Zero," battlefields, monuments, etc.). Some seemingly secular places might be regarded in sacred as sacred in this regard.
Our readings will focus on sacred spaces that are either American or Christian. Your senior paper may focus on any sacred space, or some aspect of the approach to sacred space of one religious tradition. If you are focusing on a non-American or non-Christian topic, however, you must have some prior background in the topic you are undertaken. The first part of the class will be devoted to common readings and visits. The second part to your research and writing. You will, however, begin to gather ideas and bibliography early in the semester.
David, and Edward Tabor Linenthal. American Sacred Space.
Kieckhefer, Richard. Theology in Stone:
Church Architecture from
Lane, Belden C. Landscapes
of the Sacred: Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality. Expanded
Student presentations of readings & Participation (attendance, preparedness, contribution to class): (25%)
Students will be responsible for leading discussion on the readings several times during the term:
Two students will be assigned for each set of readings. You should work together to present the readings as a team. Obviously there may be some subdivision of initial labor, but you should meet together and work on a joint final product.
Discussion leaders must:
· Search on line and assemble a list of links to images of places being discussed. This should be emailed to the class and posted on the WebCT discussion board for the course by the class meeting before your readings will be discussed.
· Introduce the readings in a brief presentation (10 minutes) and a written document of not more four double -spaced pages. Bring enough copies of this for all seminar members. (Copies for students may be double-spaced to save paper.) You will have much more than 10 minutes of stuff to say, but you need to prioritize and present the most important information in the first 10 minutes. You will make your other contributes in the general discussion.
Your presentation should:
· Identify the major arguments of the reading. Including the general perspective on sacred space presented.
· Discuss the significance and validity of the argument. (What support do the authors offer? What payoff does their idea yield?)
· Place the reading in dialogue with the other readings we have studied. (What does this add to what we have read? How does it support or challenge the work of other scholars?)
· Take the lead in class discussion of the readings.
Senior Paper: 75%
Drafts and other assignments (10%)
If these are complete, on time, and demonstrate a good faith effort you'll get full credit (i.e., A+, 100%).
If they are on-time and incomplete etc. you'll get partial credit (i.e., B or C).
If they are not on time you will get no credit (0%).
Everyone should get 100%.
Final product (65%)—Due Thursday,
December 15, 2005. The final paper will be a significant piece of
independent research that contributes to the scholarship on your topic. It will be placed on permanent file in the
religion department. There is no set
length, but most papers will be at least twenty pages. Only in exceptional cases will they be more
than forty. (Most should be closer to
An outsider reader may be involved in reviewing your work and determining the final grade.
It has been customary for the revising of the senior thesis to continue into the spring semester. This year the paper submitted on Dec. 15 will be treated as final and graded. HOWEVER, the instructor might allow the thesis to be revised and resubmitted for a possibly improved grade. The due date for revisions will be Feb. 28.
Public Presentation (Spring 2006) Student Showcase or other venue
All students except December degree candidates should expect to receive the grade "IP"—"in progress" on their December grade reports. This will allow for adequate time to grade your thesis and possibly for you to revise them.
National Conference on Undergraduate Research
Samford sends a number of students to this conference each year to present their own original research projects. This year the conference will be April 6-9, 2006 at UNC Asheville. If you are interested in presenting reasearch at this conference, I encourage submit your proposal. You may submit any research project, but your senior thesis is an obvious candidate. Samford's internal deadline for review of applications is pretty early in the semester. I will require all students to prepare a proposal in time to meet this deadline. If you are interested and I am willing to recommend your proposal, we can then submit it to the associate provost. The important dates in the NCUR process are:
Full information on NCUR and Samford's review process is available at:
To have a successful proposal you will have to have a well-defined topic by October. If I am unwilling to recommend you proposal it does not mean that your final project will not be outstanding. There is a lot of time between mid-October and the end of the semester.
enrollment, enter into voluntary association with
Attendance and Grading / Department of Religion:
Roll will be taken each day. In a MW class a student may miss four classes without automatic penalty. After the seventh absence, your final grade will be reduced one letter grade. After the ninth 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. Otherwise 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 = below 59%
Papers that are turned in after the set due date will be penalized one full letter grade for each week that they are late.
All students with disabilities seeking reasonable accommodation must register with Disability Support Services #726-4078 or #726-2105. Thereafter, you are invited to schedule appointments with the instructor to discuss reasonable accommodation requests verified by Disability Support Services.
"Language—how it is used
and what it implies—plays a crucial role in
For information on the format of papers and citations see my handout "Guidelines for Essays in Religion."
Class Schedule: (Subject to Change)
August 29: Introduction
Mircea Eliade, introduction and chapter 1, "Sacred Space and Making the World Sacred," in The Sacred and the Profane: The Naure of Religion, trans. Willard R. Trask (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1959), 8-67.
Please think of 3-5 places that you find "good to say." Places that carry significant meaning for you. Prepare a short PowerPoint slide presentation, with a slide for each place listing the name and perhaps including a picture if you can conveniently include one. Bring this to class on a USB drive or disk or email it to me and I'll have it ready to go.
Jonathan Z. Smith, chapter 1 "In Search of Place," To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 1-23.
foreword, preface and introduction in American Sacred Space, ix-xiv, 1-42
Peter W. Williams, "Sacred Space in North
America," Journal of the
Louis P. Nelson, "The Rediscovery of American Sacred Spaces," Religious Studies Review 30, no. 4 (October 2004): 251-57.
September 7: Analyzing a space: Samford
R. Kevin Seasoltz,
chapter 1-2, A Sense of the Sacred: Theological Foundations of Sacred
Architecture and Art (
Bains essay on Samford--TBS
We will be outside for part of the class looking at buildings. Come prepared. I recommended a hat and perhaps sunglasses.
Preliminary Thoughts on Thesis topic due.
September 8-9: Individual meetings about possible topics
Lane, 3-99 (Introductions and Native Americans)
American Sacred Space,
43-96 (Michaelsen on
American Sacred Space, 97-151 (Pagan Environmentalism)
Lane, 100-130 (Baroque Spirituality and Abbey)
American Sacred Space,
Lane 131-161 (Puritan and
Kieckhefer, 1-62 (Intro and Spatial dynamics)
E. A. Sövik, Architecture for Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1973), 28-39.
Site Visit: Blessed Sacrament, St. Stephen, ???
Kieckhefer, 63-134 (Centering Focus and Aesthetic Impact)
American Sacred Space, 187-219 (Home Schooling)
Kieckhefer, 135-167 (Symbolic Resonance)
Site Visit: Downtown
American Sacred Space, 220-261
Thomas Hummel, "The
Sacramentality of the
American Sacred Space,
262-312 (South African vision of
Discussion of topics
Bibliography and topic due
Lane 160-214 (Shaker and Evangelical Revival)
Proposal 500-600 words due
600 word (2 ½ pages) abstract for internal review (3 copies). Within this abstract, address the knowledge produced, relationship to previous studies, discussion of data and methods, and a working bibliography.
Lane 160-214 (Shaker and Catholic Worker)
Kieckhefer, 167-194 (Late Medieval Beverley)
Kieckhefer, 195-264 (
Kieckhefer, 195-264 (Schwarz)
November 7, 9,
Student research presentations / additional reading (TBA)
November 11 (Friday): Partial draft due (at least 5pp including literature review / historiography)
November 14, 16
Student research presentations / additional reading (TBA)
November 18 (Friday): Partial draft due (at least 10pp)
November 21, 28, 30; Dec. 5, 7 TBA