Fall 2013 - Graduate Course Description
Riccio, Thomas
Discipline and Number
HUAS 7340 Section 001
F Time 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM
Course Title

Description of Course:


The course will examine the form and function of ritual from a cultural, social, historical, and performance perspective. The first part of the course will examine ritual action and intention as a vector of human transition, communication, and evolution. Birth, puberty, marriage, death, and a multiplicity of life’s social transitions, are, in all cultures, marked by ritual, which may differ in detail but not function. Comparative and structural examination of ritual will identify origins, processes and evolution of ritual and its function in defining and maintaining social and cultural order and continuity.

The course will examine how ritual informs and shapes various cultural manifestations and structures that lay beneath daily human and animal activity. Using specific examples from indigenous Siberia, Africa, Alaska, China, and Korea, the course will identify and explore the common attributes of ritual and how various expressions have been shaped by practical need, place and deep ecology, and the imagination. The course will conclude with an exploration of how ritual—its expressions, techniques, symbols, and mythologies—vividly thrives in the contemporary world, just beneath the popular culture surrounding us. Consumerism, media manifestations, web browsing and computer/video gaming, will be examined as ritual expressions.

contact Riccio if you have further questions: [email protected]
his website: www.thomasriccio.com

Required Texts:

Ritual, by Maldoma Patrice Somé
Rites of Passage, by Arnold Van Gennep
Readings in Ritual Studies, Ronald Grimes, editor
Purity and Danger, by Mary Douglas
Patterns in Comparative Religion, by Mircea Eliade
A General Theory of Magic, by Marcel Mauss
Rituals and Ceremonies in Popular Culture, Ray Browne (ed)

additional material available via eLearning

Additional Material on library/electronic reserve.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Completion of reading assignments prior to class discussion

Four typed, double spaced, 3-5 page response/analysis papers (topics to be assigned)

One 25 page (minimum) research project on an approved subject

10 minute in-class project presentation

Class participation & Attendance

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