May 18, 2021
CLWR 2300 - The Global Occult: Ghosts, Demonology, and the Paranormal in World Religions
What does it mean to believe in ghosts? How do people who cast hexes, perform a Black Mass, or hold séances understand their actions and experiences? Designed to address these kinds of questions, this course is a survey, from the perspective of religious studies, of beliefs about ghosts, demons, and supernatural phenomena throughout history and around the world. In their readings, films, and lectures, students will look at ghost traditions from North India, Hawaii, and Europe; exorcism in the U.S., Sri Lanka, and Tibet; demonology in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism; and witchcraft in England, Italy, and Niger. They will also examine the scientific claims of parapsychology, the practice of necromancy, and accounts of people who report being attacked by evil spirits in their sleep.
Credit Hours: 3
General Education Code: 2CP
Repeat/Retake Information: May be retaken two times excluding withdrawals, but only last course taken counts.
Lecture/Lab Hours: 3.0 lecture
Grades: Eligible Grades: A-F,WP,WF,WN,FN,AU,I
- Critically evaluate reports of paranormal phenomena as religious narratives.
- Distinguish between analogous practices like exorcism and necromancy in different historical and cultural contexts.
- Explain the role that paranormal beliefs play in the worldviews of those who identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”
- Identify and describe significant figures and events in the history of the reception of occult knowledge in Europe and North America.
- Identify anxieties around gender, class, and technology that are represented through paranormal beliefs.
- Identify culturally specific phenomena like faeries and djinn and match them to their geographical and historical sources.
- Identify the cultural contexts that have shaped beliefs and practices surrounding ghosts, demons, and other supernatural entities.
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