RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA – History 43.11/American
END-OF-TERM WORK, aka, FINAL EXAM QUESTIONS, FALL 2005
Now that we’re in the home stretch, you will concentrate on two pieces
of writing. This end-of-term work will also substitute for the other
term essay listed on the syllabus. (I know that most of you are stressed
out at this point in the term) This writing is sharply focused on
specific reading materials and, so, is much less stressful than
reviewing a whole term’s work for an exam. The essays are due on or
before Friday December 23, the scheduled date for the final exam.
You may submit them by email to me or in hardcopy to me on the last day
of classes (Dec. 14) or to the History Department secretary NO LATER
THAN NOON ON DEC. 23. But remember – NONE WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER
DEC. 23. Grades have to be submitted in a timely manner, and I will
not be on campus next semester. Since there will be no way to make up
missing work, I will not submit any incomplete grades. That means
that if I don't have your work to grade it will be recorded as an F.
There will be no appeals. I’ve opened a Caucus item for this
assignment in case you would like to try out some ideas or raise
questions. And we will be devoting much of our last two weeks discussing
Eck’s book, the subject of one of the essays.
PART I: Critique
of Diana L. Eck’s , A New Religious America: How a “Christian
Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation
Eck’s book deals with a major theme of this course, the connection
between religious diversity and American identity, the
every-changing relationship between the Many and the One. In a short
essay (3 to 4 pages) comment critically on her thesis, how persuasively
(or not) she develops it, and especially how she uses and interprets
American religious history.
Introduction: In a few paragraphs state Eck’s thesis and
describe her argument as she develops it in chapters 1, 2, 6 and 7.
What does she see as the great challenge for the 21st
century? In her opinion, what are the major barriers to achieving a
truly pluralistic culture? Pay particular attention to her understanding
of the place of Christianity in American history and the role
of the American constitutional system as the foundation of our common
public life. In this section be sure to discuss Eck’s understanding
of American history in the light of what you have learned in this
course, drawing on pertinent course materials.
II. Body: For the major part of the essay,
concentrate on only one chapter (3, 4, or 5) to discuss the
experiences and contributions of one group of new contributors to
American life: Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims. Summarize the
chapter and comment on how it fits her thesis. What did you
learn about this group that was most striking or surprising to you?
III. Conclusion: In a couple of paragraphs explain
whether or not you find Eck’s thesis persuasive. In your opinion
(give reasons) has she made a convincing case? Has she ignored or
misrepresented relevant questions or issues?
Choose a document from Parts II, III or IV of the course. [YOU MAY
NOT USE ANY DOCUMENTS ALREADY PART OF EARLIER ASSIGNMENTS!] Write a
short essay (about three pages) on what it reveals about a theme (major
topic) in American religious history that you believe is still relevant
to an issue in American life today. Your basic question is: what
does this document reveal about a major theme in American religious
history? Your first paragraph should have a thesis statement (a
general answer to the basic question). In your discussion draw on one
essay (secondary source) from Moore or Part I of Porterfield that
relates to the theme. Here is a guide for the structure of your essay:
Give the name of the document, the theme it illustrates, and the Moore
or Porterfield essay.
Section 1: Introduction
Besides including your thesis statement it should identify the
historical theme or topic the document illustrates and provide
information on the historical background to the document. Choose a
secondary source (an essay from Moore or Porterfield) that relates to
that theme and explain how it is helpful in interpreting the document.
Section 2: Summary of
Give a succinct and
accurate account of what the document says, in your own words. No
Analysis. Here you will relate the content of the document to the
broader theme and to the contemporary issue. Explain how it is valuable
for understanding the historical theme it represents. What has it taught
you about an important aspect of religion in American history? How does
it relate to the secondary source you chose? How does it relate to a
contemporary issue in American life?
Section 4: Conclusion.
Make a conclusion by restating the most important points you made in