REL 342.001

Theories of Ritual

T | 3:30-5:50

MA 210

Download Syllabus

As a way of introducing how scholars theorize rituals, this seminar tackles the problem of how the actions that we name as rituals are related to those internal dispositions that we commonly know as beliefs. For, based on a specific understanding of the individual, it is commonly assumed that behaviors are merely secondary, motivated by, and thus expressions of, a person’s prior mental state. This class asks whether it might actually be the opposite. W

Russell T. McCutcheon


Ritual and Religious Belief cover

Harvey, Graham (ed.)
Ritual and Religious Belief: A Reader
Routledge, 2005

Stereotyping Religion cover

Stoddard, Brad and Craig Martin (eds.)
Stereotyping Religion: Critiquing Cliches
Bloomsbury, 2017

Books are available at the SUPe Store and online through vendors such as


Additional Readings

Donald Lopez. “Belief” (1998)

Ronald Grimes, “Ritual” (2000)

Frits Staal, “The Meaningless of Ritual” (1979)

Interested in exploring ritual a little more?

Know what the significance of the above photo is…? Want some recent examples…?