This course looks at the many ways in which Irish religious practices were conducted in the 18th and 19th centuries. Topics will include pilgrimages, apparitions, prayer charms, and folk beliefs, as well as the forming of Catholic and Protestant orthodoxies. Readings will explore the anthropological and historical meaning of these practices while placing them in a broader European context. This course is cross-listed for credit in Irish Studies, History, European Studies, and Religious Studies.
This course has two main goals. The first is to familiarize participants with the main historical developments in Irish religious history over the courses of 200 years, focusing on questions of method and interpretation necessary to understand vernacular beliefs and spiritual practices of the past. This will be accomplished through weekly readings, seminar-style discussions, and writing assignments.
The second goal will be to conduct primary research into the religious landscape of Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo, a major international pilgrimage site with rich potential for participants in this course to use spatial analysis to map the various intersecting economic, mythological, and religious landscapes. This will be done through a semester-long collaborative research project (graded on an individual basis) in which students and the instructor will together present a GIS-based (Geographic Information Systems) web page mapping the site's layered cultural meanings.
Required: Two of the following three textbooks are available at the campus bookstore (the Hynes and the Taylor books), and all three are available through many online suppliers (including, in some cases, e-book editions). If you purchase these books from a source other than the bookstore, please take care to purchase the edition listed below, since this will save a lot of headaches in matching page numbers with the standard text. The best way to do this is to order using the ISBN number.
Recommended:For students who have not taken a survey course in Irish history, it is recommended that the following text be used to set context for the events we cover from the 1700s and 1800s. A similar Irish history textbook can also be substituted.
Attendance: Students are required to attend all class meetings, unless prevented by excused illness, family emergency, or pre-arranged religious holiday. Attendance will be counted as part of overall participation in the course, and repeated absences will adversely affect grades.
There is one required event on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7:00 pm. Please plan accordingly, and make arrangements with the instructor at the beginning of the semester if it is not possible to attend due to class/transportation conflicts.
Assignments: Students are responsible for completing the following course components:
5-6 page readings response paper (due by 11:59 pm by e-mail on last Wednesday of assigned discussion unit): 15%
Take-home midterm exam (due Oct. 10 at 11:59 pm): 15%
Take-home final exam (due Dec. 17 at 11:59 pm): 20%
Croagh Patrick final project write-up (due December 3, 11:59 pm, by e-mail to email@example.com): 35%
Discussion participation: 5%
All readings should be completed by the beginning of class on the day they are listed in the schedule.
Grades for this course will be determine on a traditional 10-point scale (90%+ for an A, 80-89% for a B, 70-79% for a C, etc.). Late written assignments will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade for each day late. See the full schedule for a list of required readings and due dates.
Please make arrangements by contacting the Moses Center (212-998-4980) at the beginning of the semester to ensure that any necessary modifications for coursework are initiated well before the due date of the first assignment.