Music:"Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes", -JB
Next Quarter Class:
Next quarter, I will be taking the following class:
Comparative Studies 526: New Age and New Religious Movements (Graduate, 5 hours)
05136-7 D T R 0930-1118 EL 2003 URBAN*HUGH
From Shirley MacLaine and telephone psychics to UFO sightings and the X-files, New Age and new religious movements have come to permeate virtually every aspect of contemporary American culture. At the end of the millennium, we seemed to witness a rapid proliferation of new religious movements, alternative spiritualities and apocalyptic sects of which Waco and Heaven’s Gate were just a few of the visible examples. But amidst the increasing spread of alternative spiritualities we are left wondering, just what is the New Age, and is it really anything so new at all?
This course will trace the history of the major New Age and new religious movements in America, from early hermetic and occult traditions, to spiritualism and theosophy, down to the more extremist apocalyptic groups of our own day. For the purposes of this course, we will focus on a series of representative movements, including the Theosophical Society, channeling, neo-pagan witchcraft, the Branch Davidians, and Heaven’s Gate. Student input and suggestions for additional topics will also be strongly encouraged. In the process, we will also examine the close relationship between the New Age and late 20th-century consumer capitalist culture, as well as the increasing role of new technologies—above all the use of the Internet—in many new religious movements. As we will see, however, the so-called “New Age” is perhaps really not so new after all, but in many ways simply the latest expression of a long tradition of alternative spiritualities in the United States.