Sacred Journey into Religious Communities
Integrated Seminar 101
Assignment 2: Personal Quest - Participatory Paper
As rites of passage and pilgrimages are on of the focuses of this course, it is essential that you take your own journey. The second course activity is for you to write a participatory-interpretative paper. The first part of this assignment is for you to "participate" (through your imagination) in a sacred journey of your choice in a religious tradition other than your own. Select from a religious tradition, other than your own, that is considered during the course of the semester. For this semester you must consider a sacred journey emanating out of the Buddhist, Hindu, or Indigenous Tradition. Key: you are attempting to convey the meaning and significance of a sacred journey from the perspective of a member of the religious tradition from which that sacred journey emanates.
Critically, you are not to actually participate in the journey, but to imagine yourself a "participant" within it. Actual personal participation can entail critical ethical issues, e.g., it is unethical to participate in someone else's traditions without proper guidance and permission, and such participation can be "harmful."
The paper will be divided into two separate sections.
1. First Section: Narrative Story. For our assignment, you will first need to select a sacred journey from one of the religious traditions we are studying this semester, and then thoroughly research the sacred journey you have selected, including its symbolism, aesthetic expressions, ritual processes, underlying religious values, associated oral traditions, as well as the historical and cultural context out of which it emanates. On selecting a topic. As you construct your story, focus on framing your narrative with any one of the various types of sacred journeys (a specific ritual) considered during the course, such as a rite of passage, a pilgrimage, or a world renewal ceremony. As you construct your story, also focus on developing a narrative that incorporates and illustrates key religious values of the Tradition you have selected. These would be values identified and discussed in class, as based upon our textbook readings. And as you construct your story, do so by coloring your narrative with passion, emotional sensitivity, and ethos. We do not want a descriptive travel log, but a story that captures a transformative sacred journey and the underlying religious values that bring meaning to that journey. The use of primary sources helps bring authenticity and accuracy to your story. Consider using a verse from a poem or segment of a narrative text, as well as art and other illustrations.
This segment of the assignment will also entail extensive library research. Begin early. A proposal of your project will be due around the time mid-term grades are submitted. See the proposal format. To assist you in your research, consult the course bibliography. You must include in your research the key published sources that address your particular topic, and you must list at least five (5) primary sources. Internet sources are to be used cautiously and only relied upon in a very limited fashion, with URL sites fully documented as to their academic and/or tribal authenticity and accuracy.
Become very familiar with our library, as it will become a second home. To become more familiar with and fully utilize the resources of the library, take the Information Literacy Tutorial. You can also schedule an appointment with a library who will assist you in your research project. Submit the following form to begin the process. Student Assistance Research Form. While doing your research, be able to critically evaluate your sources and judge what resources are valuable and valid. This is especially important in evaluating web site resources. Go to the following site to assist you Critically Analyzing Information Sources.
Having thoroughly researched your sacred journey, you will then write a fictional narrative text, grounded in the religious and ethnographic detail and reality of the ceremony you are presenting. This is an exercise in "creative non-fiction writing." In this story text, develop fictional storylines, scenarios and characters which illustrate the meaning and significance of the sacred journey, all attempting to do so from the perspective of the participants of the journey. While the story you write is a fictitious account, the narrative should be fully grounded in solid, factual, authentic ethnographic and religious scholarship - ritual details, religious roles, art, architecture, music, dance, family life, etc., and overall perspective (Indigenous, Hindu or Buddhist). This descriptive write-up is known as a "text."
In developing your narrative text try to isolate a specific event in time and space that is representative and significant of the larger cultural context. Then with as much detail as possible, describe the rich texture of that setting, e.g., who, what, where, when, etc. Pay attention to the "little things," as well as the "big picture." But don't attempt to a too board and general. The symbolic detail of a cultural text often reveals what is most meaningful.
You can write either in the first person, as if you are the protagonist of the story, chronicling the event or scene, or you can write your text in the third person, as if you are viewing the story unfold before your eyes, passively describing the events as they are occurring to someone else.
You are also encouraged to provide illustrations and/or artwork that might help convey the character and nature of that which you are describing. The artwork can involve photo copied materials or original work you have created. This may even develop into "children's book" project. It would be based upon the same level of authenticity and accuracy as other projects, but geared for the "child" in us all, with a series of wonderfully and appropriately illustrated images, and only minimal use of narrative.
If you make reference to specific oral traditions or narratives, rephrase the story in your own words, not quoting it verbatim, as if you are "re-membering" the story.
Do not include citation references, footnotes or other formal stylistic notations in the narrative text section of your paper.
Please keep in mind that I do not expect you to be ultimately and completely successful in your attempt to "see from the perspective of a participant." But in your attempt to do so you can reveal to yourself some of the challenges in attempting to do so and also reveal your own biases and constraints in attempting to know and understand your neighbors. The effort is worth the journey.
2. Second Section: Interpretation and Reflection. After you have completed writing your sacred journey narrative text, you are now in a position to add a more formal interpretation and your own reflection of that text. The second part of your assignment is to interpret and reflect on the meaning of the sacred journey you have just written.
First, interpret the significance of the sacred journey, as best you can, from the perspective of the participants, providing a cultural and historical context for your narrative story. Its time to do little "coding." Use the skills of the "coding interpretive method" as presented during the first part of the course and in Huckleberries. Try to interpret the meaning of the journey from an insider's point of view. Acknowledging the enormous challenge and perhaps elusive goal before you, it is nevertheless a goal worth striving for. What are some of the key symbols embedded in the story text, and what are some of the underlying spiritual values those symbols reference? As part of your interpretation, ground your sacred journey narrative text in its historical and cultural contexts. For example, provide when the event typically takes place, who are the primary actors, under what circumstances does the event occur, and a brief history. In order to conduct good interpretative research, the context of a text must be fully appreciated. To interpret is not to summarize, but to seriously contemplate and consider the cultural assumptions of a particular text. The interpretation should focus on the cultural, spiritual and/or historic meanings and significances, and/or the roles and functions of the journey described in the text. An interpretation should always seek to represent the perspective of the participants being described and avoid being overtly biased and ethnocentric. In this sense, there can be no "correct" or "incorrect" interpretation of a text.
Second, once you have provided an interpretation of your narrative text (having coded it), offer your reflections on the significance and meaning of the sacred journey in relation to your own personal journey. Consider the meaning of the particular sacred journey relative to your own religious and cultural orientation. To reflect is to seriously contemplate and consider the cultural assumptions of a particular text relative to and compared with your own cultural assumptions. How are your own religious and cultural assumptions similar and different from those who participated in the narrative story? Explore and discuss your own cultural and religious assumptions. By juxtaposing that which is distinct along side that which is as hand, though often veiled, the contours of one's own cultural territory is revealed more clearly.
The over-all length (both sections one and two) of this project should correspond to the intention of the task at hand and the level of skill you apply to it. You may find that your completed paper totals well over twenty pages in length, however. If in a text format, the paper should be double-spaced, and all projects should include a complete bibliography/references cited section and any appendixes, as well as of any images, graphics and photos.All projects must include a formal interpretative/reflective narrative text section, and conform to either APA (American Psychological Association), or MLA style of parenthetical documentation, including proper use of citation references, footnotes, other formal stylistic notations, and a bibliography/references cited. If in a narrative text format, typically your descriptive narrative text will take up to two-thirds of your entire length of your paper, with your interpretation accounting for the remainder of the pages of your project. Keep a copy of your submitted paper.
You need to "okay" a "proposed topic" with the instructor prior to doing your research. The proposal should include a paragraph outlining the topic and at least three key sources you will rely upon for your research. See the proposal format. The proposal of your project is due at midterm, with a outline draft of your paper due during the twelfth week of the semester. The final paper is due during the last week of classes.
|1. Religious Diversity|
|2. Own/Shared Religiosity|
|5. Interpretative Method|