Posts Tagged ‘HW’

Witch Trials as Rituals of Violence and Social Control

May 6, 2010

Rituals of violence have filled vital roles in virtually all human societies. They can be spectacles or rites of passage. Or, as presented here, they can be a means of social control. While rituals of violence built around masculinity often provide opportunities for agency, Those focused on women were more frequently of a controlling nature, and attempted to deprive their subjects of agency.

The ritual of violence that will serve as the main example in this paper is witchcraft, and especially witch trials. These events can be viewed as either complex rituals or as a series of related rituals, but either perspective is applicable to this treatment. Witchcraft and witch trials will first be established as rituals of violence, and then considered in light of their connection with women. The relation of rituals of violence to agency will be explored, then tied to the use of rituals of violence as a means of gender-oriented social control.

Edward Muir has written a great deal on ritual, and the working definition used here will be taken from his work. Ritual will be defined as a “formalized, collective, institutionalized kind of repetitive action.”1 Rituals of violence are those rituals of which violence is an integral part. That is, with violent portions removed, the rituals would lose significant meaning.

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HW Round Four

May 3, 2010

Homework Round Four starts immediately.

Anyone is eligible to enter a project for this week. The project must require at least the effort required to write 1,000 words, must require a significant degree of Imagination, and must be in some way open-ended. Completing your homework project by 12:00 noon Thursday May 6 will net you TWO (2) points. Completing your homework project by 12:00 noon Friday May 7 will net you ONE (1) point.

Comment on this post to propose HW for the week. Your HW can be something you were going to do anyway. Any HW you have previously attempted or completed may be built on for a new Homework Assignment. Anyone can sign up — just leave a comment with the HW you plan to take on!

A More Coherent Treatment of New Atheism

April 29, 2010

The fledgling 21st century has seen a startling number of critiques of religion and faith in American culture. This phenomenon has been dubbed “new atheism,” and its presence has changed the popular conversation about religion in the USA. This paper lays the groundwork for a theoretical understanding of the new atheist phenomenon by positing that new atheism is a distinctly postmodern movement. Additionally, it is distinguished by the willingness of its proponents to use popular culture to challenge religious moderates.

To understand new atheism as postmodern, it is helpful to first establish historical atheism as overtly modern. Then new atheism can be established in its postmodern context along with its chief cultural rival, seeker religion. Once the milieu has been established, the new popular discourse on religion can be examined. This preliminary work is intended to open further lines of inquiry, including the impact of the popular culture debate on various religious groups.

Atheism: A Modern Phenomenon

The first atheists, in the contemporary sense of the word, were Spanish expatriate Jews, living in Holland.1 In Spain, they had been Marranos, and upon encountering conventional Judaism, they were shocked.2 The atheists were only a small portion of this population, most of whom successfully transitioned into the conventional Jewish society. (more…)

HW Round Three

April 25, 2010

Homework Round Three starts at 12:00 noon central time Monday, April 26.

Once Round Three has started, anyone is eligible to enter a project for this week. The project must require at least the effort required to write 1,000 words, must require a significant degree of Imagination, and must be in some way open-ended. Completing your homework project by 12:00 noon Thursday April 29 will net you TWO (2) points. Completing your homework project by 12:00 noon Friday April 30 will net you ONE (1) point.

Comment on this post to propose HW for the week. Your HW can be something you were going to do anyway. Any HW you have previously attempted or completed may be built on for a new Homework Assignment. Anyone can sign up — just leave a comment with the HW you plan to take on!

Rituals of Violence as Social Control, AKA She’s a Witch!

April 21, 2010

–What is a ritual?
“Most theorists would accept that a ritual is a formalized, collective, institutionalized kind of repetitive action,” (Muir 3).

In early modern Europe, witchcraft was generally a capitol offence (Larner 205). It was also a legal exception, known as crimen exceptum, meaning that normal standards of proof and procedure did not apply. (Larner 205) Outside crimen exceptum, legal standards across Europe became more rational and more prohibitive of torture as an interrogation tactic. This made the violence common in witch trials notable — it was not a standard procedure.

Ordeals to determine whether the accused was a witch were also not uncommon, including pricking all over the body of the accused in search of an insensible spot. (Ives, History of Penal Methods, 63) It was also not unusual for the accused to be “swum” to see if they would float. (Ives 63)

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