Students who take this course should gain the following understanding and skills: 1) To analyze complex problems in the study of religion from many perspectives. 2) To consider major questions that confront us as human beings. 3) To distinguish academic from religious approaches to the study of religion. 4) To read secondary sources about religion with critical insight. 5) To write academic essays that demonstrate a critical engagement with course material. 6) To speak about religion with clarity and precision, applying your interpretive and critical skills to oral conversation. 7) To acquire a basic vocabulary for discussing film and to be able to articulate multiple relationships between religion and cinema. 


Attendance and Participation (20% Final Grade)

Class attendance and participation in both lecture and your discussion section are extremely important elements of this course.  Attendance will be taken every day in both lecture and section, and more than two absences from lecture or two absences from section will begin to lower this portion of your grade, which is divided between lecture and section (see grading section below).  In addition, you are expected to do the readings carefully and be ready to discuss them in both lecture and section, although this is particularly so in discussion section, where students will do most of the talking.  In order to do well in this area, you must not only attend lecture and section, you must also  participate in classroom discussion on a regular and consistent basis.

Weekly Response Papers, Final Exam and Extra Credit Opportunity (80+% Final Grade)

Most of your final grade will come from what you write for this course.  You are required to write a 2 page weekly response paper during weeks 2-9, which makes for 8 response papers in total.  You will have one final exam and one opportunity to earn extra credit for this course.  Please see the page "Assignments" for more detailed information.

Required Readings and Textbooks

In addition to the short required readings for this class, which are available as PDF files on the "Weekly Schedule" page of this website, the following two textbooks are also required:

Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion.  New York: Harcourt, 1957.  mailto:

S. Brent Plate, Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World.  London: Wallflower, 2008.

Both of these books are available for purchase at the UCSD bookstore (including used copies).  I have also placed two copies of The Sacred and the Profane and one copy of Religion and Film on reserve at the front desk at Geisel Library.  We will be begin using these texts on Monday of Week 2, so it is absolutely imperative that you have access to a copy of both of these books by the end of Week 1.

[NOTE: You are required to have access to the assigned texts for each lecture.  While printing out and annotating the texts by hand is the ideal way to interact with these texts, if you choose not do so, make sure you have a computer with you and that you can quickly access the texts when I refer to them in lecture or when I ask you to discuss certain passages in small groups, which I will do on a regular basis.] 

Required Films

You are required to watch all of the films for this course, which are listed on the "Weekly Schedule" page along with a link to the entry of each film in the Internet Movie Database.  Ideally, you will view each film between Monday and Wednesday lectures.  At the very latest, you will need to watch the film by Thursday so you have time to write your weekly response paper, which is due at the beginning of section on Fridays.  If you have previously seen any of the films on the syllabus, please plan on re-watching the film for this class so that you can re-experience it within the framework of this class.  Also, it is not recommended to watch the films before the week they have been scheduled for in order to ensure your experience of the film focuses around the theme it which it has been assigned. 

A copy of each film will be placed on reserve at the Arts Library in Geisel Library.  Of course, you may also watch the films through a Netflix account or any other movie service, if you have one.  I encourage you to watch the films with other class members so you can talk about them together after viewing.

Special Needs

If you have a learning disability or any other condition that would require accommodation on my part or during the final exam, or if you will miss any classes in order to observe a religious holiday, please inform me in person as soon as possible.

Academic Integrity

University policy requires me to report all cases of suspected plagiarism to the Office of Academic Integrity. You are responsible for understanding what constitutes plagiarism, and for avoiding it: “I didn’t know…” is not an acceptable excuse. If you are unsure how plagiarism is defined, or if you would like guidance with knowing how to avoid plagiarism, please consult this university resource:


I. Lecture Attendance and Participation     10%

II. Section Attendance and Participation     10%

III. Weekly Response Papers (8)                 50%                

IV. Final Exam                                         30%

V. Extra Credit Opportunity                      1/3rd letter grade added to final course grade


This is a class about human beings. It requires students to see movies about human beings. In the movies human beings will occasionally be naked, have sex, use drugs, and commit violence, sometimes very graphically. If you do not want to see actors naked, sweaty, drugged and violent, then do not take this class! This class is not required for Religion majors or minors. No student will ever fail to graduate from UCSD because she or he did not take this class. Everybody who enrolls, therefore, does so at his or her own discretion, knowing that it will be “NC-17” on occasion. I repeat: if you are unwilling to watch or discuss sex and violence because they violate your personal moral code or for any other perfectly legitimate reason, then do not take this class!

Once you enroll, you will be bound by the following rules:

In accordance with university policy, students must complete all formal course requirements in order to receive credit for RELI 1. Formal course requirements include:

5) taking the final examination 

1) consistent attendance at class meetings
2) completion of assigned readings within the stipulated time frame
3) viewing all films 
4) submission of all written work as assigned


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