Religious Studies 4990
Senior Seminar: Popular Religion
Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives
Choosing a Topic
Past topics for this seminar have been along the lines of:
- a book or movie series as a contemporary adaptation and interpretation of Biblical teachings
- religious elements in the folklore of a country or people (e.g. holy wells in Irish folklore)
- Catholic saints' cults and pilgrimages
- religion on the Internet
- popular religious movements of the past or present (e.g. modern Evangelicalism in the U.S., folk Buddhism in Taiwan, Amish in the U.S., neo-Paganism in the U.S., shamanism in Korea)
For more ideas and examples, check the following:
- In the Gale Virtual Reference Library database, go to Advanced Search, choose Subject Area: Religion, and search for a topic, e.g. fish. This is also a good way to find reliable basic information.
- In the Reference area of Ellis Library, browse books like:
- Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food In World Mythology, GR 498.A53 2000
- Pilgrimage: From the Ganges to Graceland, BL 619 .P5 D38 2002
- Man, Myth and Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown, BF 1407 .M34 1995
- Angels Bibliography, BL 477 .M375 1999
- Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature, GR 72.56 .A73 2005
- Articles appearing in the free online Journal of Religion and Popular Culture (skimming the article titles can give you lots of good ideas)
- Articles about religious practice appearing in journals such as Asian Studies Review, Chinese Sociology and Anthropology, Folklore (newer issues, older issues), Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Journal of Cultural Geography, Religious Studies Review (newer issues, older issues) and Social Compass.
- Google for religion news from other parts of the world, e.g. India religion news
Types of Sources
- Primary sources: "naive data" or artifacts produced by religious practitioners
- firsthand accounts
- books, newsletters, Web sites etc. produced for and/or by religious believers
- novels, movies and other creative works
- Secondary sources: "analysis" produced by journalists or by scholars in fields such as religious studies, anthropology, history, sociology, culture studies, American Studies, Asian Studies, etc.
Books: Where to Find
- MERLIN Catalog (set for MU Libraries only)
- Many religion books will be in "B" call number ranges located on the 3rd floor East
- To locate any call number in Ellis Library, select and copy the call number, follow any MU ELLIS link in the catalog record, choose "Help Me Find My Book," paste the call number into the search blank, and run the search.
- MERLIN Catalog (set for all UM campuses) - use your PawPrint and password to have books sent to MU.
- MOBIUS Catalog - (most academic libraries in Missouri) - use 0 + student ID number + c to have books sent to MU
- Worldcat (U.S. and some international libraries) use PawPrint and password to have books sent to MU via ILL@MU
Books: How to Search
When using online library catalogs:
- Use keyword searches to find good subject headings in the catalog record - click subject heading to find more books on the same subject
- Use * to search for variations of a word, e.g. religio*
- Use OR and ( ) to search for synonyms and AND to specify more terms
- religio* AND (folk OR folklor* OR tradition*) AND (India* or Pakistan* or South Asia or Sri Lanka)
- (tolkien OR hobbit OR lord of the rings) AND religio*
Use Google Book Search for searching within books (use for narrow searches, e.g. "sweet singers of Israel" Scotland)
- Put phrases in "quotation marks"
- Try Advanced Search options for more precise searching
- If the full-text article is not immediately available, use the button to find online full text or a link to the MERLIN catalog for journals, magazines and newspapers in printed format.
- If no button is available, you must copy and paste the article information into the Article Finder.
- In Ellis Library, the most current issues of most journals, magazines and newspapers are kept in the Current Periodicals Reading Room. Earlier issues are kept with the books on the upper floors of the library, at the call numbers specified in the MERLIN record for the journal.
Your Annotated Bibliography
Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, etc.) is acceptable as long as your style is consistent.