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Course Information

Instructor Info:Robert Meagher
Office Extension x5417
TA Info:Emily Bigelow
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107

The earliest evidence of religious imagination suggests that the source of all life, death, and rebirth, the power of creation, sustenance, destruction, and re-generation, was first understood as feminine. Goddess worship, arguably the original "religion" of the human species, has survived not only in memory but also in practice to the present day, despite the hostility or indifference of virtually every "world religion" of the past several millennia. This class will look closely at a number of prehistoric and ancient goddess traditions from Europe, the Near East, and South Asia, examining their ancient forms and their enduring legacies. More specifically, this class will begin in the painted caves of prehistoric France and end on the streets of contemporary Kolkota, home to the largest and most vital Mother Goddess festival in the modern world, the festival of Ma Durga.

Course Objectives:

Reading Assignments

•  Specific reading assignments will be made in a clear and timely fashion, to allow plenty of time for their completion.  It is always a good policy to read well beyond specific assignments early in the term so as to inform the choice of a personal research topic and to free up time later in the term for individual research and writing. In addition to the course readings it is expected that everyone will read each others’ weekly commentaries on our class Moodle site (see below).

Writing Assignments

•  More or less weekly responses to readings and class lectures/discussions.  These weekly “Commentaries”—one page or roughly 300 words in length—will contain two parts: (1) a brief discussion of what you find most interesting or thought-provoking in the material under current consideration; and (2) the formulation of an unanswered question raised by your reading or by the class presentations. Please submit in hard copy.  These responses will be submitted both in hard copy and in electronic form as a pdf email attachment. Electronic submissions will not be accepted.  Ordinarily, these commentaries will be due each Monday and they will be made available within 24 hours on the course Moodle site.

•  Final research essay, approximately 10–12 pages (3,000–3,500 words) in length, due on at our last class meeting, Wednesday December 12.   Each of these will have served as the basis for a class presentation in the last weeks of the term. These essays will be submitted both in hard copy and in electronic form as a pdf email attachment. Similarly, a one-page sketch of your paper topic and a preliminary bibliography is due on Wednesday, October 24.

Each research essay is to be a study of one specific goddess, from any historic or prehistoric period and from any major mythical or religious tradition of your choice.  Without advance discussion and permission from the instructor, you should not choose one of the goddesses focused on in our class discussion.  Regarding each goddess, you should pay attention to and report on such matters as: original iconic and, if available, textual sources; images; myths and folklore; powers and prerogatives; aspects, etc.

Evaluation Criteria:

Requirements for Evaluation

• attendance and active engagement in all class meetings*

• completion of all assigned readings and films prior to their consideration in class

timely submission of all 300-word commentaries

• timely submission of prospectus for independent research project

• class presentation and written submission of independent research project

•  Each weekly commentary will be returned promptly with minimal diagnostic evaluation.  Primary response to insights and questions raised in the commentaries will occur in class for the sake of everyone.  An abbreviated form of commentary will be used on the papers:

Content                                                       Form

1C —insufficient grasp of material                     1F—unsatisfactory presentation

2C—adequate grasp of material                        2F—adequate presentation

3C—perceptive/insightful grasp of material       3F—concise/crafted presentation

• At our final class meeting, together with their final projects, all students wishing evaluation must submit a one-page self-evaluation.  This should be submitted to me in hard copy and also filed on the HUB. For return of work, include a self-addressed, stamped (if necessary) envelope.

Additional Info:

Robert Meagher

Office: GRD [Greenwich Writing Center, upstairs]  ext.5417 •

Office Hours: sign up on Hampedia []

Absence from more than 3 class meetings in the course of the term disqualifies a student from receiving an evaluation, though make-up work may be negotiated depending on whether the absences were unavoidable due to illness or other emergencies.

If any member of this class has a diagnosed disability, please notify the instructor at the beginning of the term so that special assistance or provisions might be arranged for full participation in and completion of this course.