Anthropology 135

Magic and Folk Religion

Instructor: Chris Henley

Instructor Contact: Telephone: (760) 744-1150 x 5028 (7/24 voicemail) 

Email:, Office hours:  Half hour before class and/or after class or by appointment.

Class Meets: Wednesdays, 6:30 9:20 PM, Main Campus Room BE 1

Text:       Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion, An Anthropological Study of the Supernatural  5th Edition

                        Arthur C. Lehmann and James E. Myers

Mayfield, ISBN: 0-7674-1692-9

Scope of course:

Anthropological view of the relationships between magic and folk religion as expressed in rituals, myths, and art will be explored through a survey of selected systems of belief in the supernatural found the around the world. 

Specific course objectives:

 The student will:

        examine the nature of non-Western supernatural belief systems.

        describe and identify the significance of specific customs, rites, values, and attitudes of non-Western peoples.

        survey and note the differences and similarities between magic and religion.

        compare the Western cultural worldview with that of non-Western cultures in order to ascertain common principles used in human problem solving through belief in the supernatural. 

Course requirements:

Attendance:  On time attendance at every class is required, and expected. Students are responsible for knowing class meeting dates and times. Students are responsible for knowing and acting upon drop dates and other applicable deadlines. Students who miss more than two consecutive class meetings may be subject to an instructor-initiated drop for non-attendance. An Incomplete course grade will not be automatically given. Student must initiate and request the Incomplete grade in writing. Students failing to withdraw who do not make arrangements for an Incomplete grade will receive the FW grade.

Grading:  To receive a course grade all students must complete all required course work. Minimally, this will require class participation, participation in a class project, and completion of three exams. Exams are scheduled after each course segment and will cover topics presented in that segment. Exams may be a combination of subjective and/or essay style questions. Students are expected to take all exams on date scheduled, unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor; permission will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Exams 1 & 2 only may be made-up by arrangement with instructor; Please do not request to take exam #3 prior to the scheduled date.

Exam and final course grades will be determined by percentage method. The total number of available points from participation, project and each exam will be totaled. To earn a letter grade the total score must reflect the required percentage. The minimum percentage required is as follows:   A = 90%, B = 80%, C = 70%, D = 60%, 59% and below is failing.

Academic Dishonesty:  Any student found to be actively or passively engaged in cheating or any other form of academic dishonesty will be subject to a failing grade for the course and any other academic discipline as deemed appropriate by the college.

Academic Accommodations:  It is recommended that students with disabilities discuss academic accommodations with the instructor during the first two weeks of the class. An alternate format of this syllabus and handouts may be available upon request. Alternate format refers to the translation of print into a format that a person with a disability can comprehend, e.g. tape, e-text or Braille for blind or visually impaired.

Schedule of Topics:

Section 1 

       Week 1 through 6 (August 27 through October 1)

       Reading: Chapters 1, 2, 3, & 4 

        Introduction to Anthropology and the study of human religion

        Basic concepts of the supernatural, Scientific study of supernatural beliefs

        The supernatural in early human cultures

        Shamans, Priests, and Prophets

        Altered States of Consciousness

        Rituals and Festivals

        Exam 1: October 8, 2003

Section 2

             o       Week 7 through 12 (October 15 through November 12)

 o        Reading: Chapters 5, 6, 7, & 8

             Supernatural beings, Animism and ancestral spirits, Deities

        Wizardry, illness and healing

        Power of the Dead

        Exam 2:  November 12, 2003

Section 3 

             o       Week 13 through 17 (November 19 through December 17)

 o       Reading: Chapters 9 & 10

             Religion and Science, Sacred and Profane dichotomy

        Religion in societies undergoing change, New cults and revitalization movements

        Class Projects/Presentations: Studies selected from: Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Americas

        Exam 3: December17

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