In this class, students examine theories of place and ritual so that they develop lenses through which to view all the rituals of their lives. We will begin by examining rituals in past and present that humans have used in Appalachia, focusing especially on those rituals that were seen to sacralize or recognize the sacredness of Appalachia itself. We will then investigate rituals used in Buddhist contexts that do the same, becoming familiar with the arrival in this area of Buddhists especially those from Southeast Asia. As students learn ritual theory and explore the ways of those living in Appalachia and those more recently come to live in the area, they will hone their analytical skills as they involve themselves in the rituals of college in general and of the University of the South, in particular.

The questions we will adress include, what do rituals do in realtion to space and place and relationships? Do certain places demand that we recognize them as sacred for some reason? — or do humans transform neutral spaces into sacred places through ritual? How can understanding how one religious group maps out its territory through ritual help us understand territory itself? — or can we only create and understand different maps? What relationships are formed and how are they formed through ritual?

Final Report