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101 2020 3 b

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RST2601/101/3/2020
Tutorial Letter 101/3/2020
Understanding religion through objects,
the senses and technology
RST2601
Semester module
Department of Religious Studies and Arabic
IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Please register on myUnisa, activate your myLife email address and
make sure that you have regular access to the myUnisa module
website, RST2601-2020-S1/S2, as well as your group website.
Note: This is a fully online module and therefore it is only available on myUnisa.
CONTENTS
Page
1
INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................................... 3
1.1
Getting started … .......................................................................................................................... 3
2
OVERVIEW OF RST2601............................................................................................................. 3
2.1
Purpose ........................................................................................................................................ 3
2.2
Outcomes ..................................................................................................................................... 4
3
LECTURER(S) AND CONTACT DETAILS................................................................................... 5
3.1
Lecturer ........................................................................................................................................ 5
3.2
Department ................................................................................................................................... 5
3.3
University ...................................................................................................................................... 5
4
RESOURCES ............................................................................................................................... 6
4.1
Joining myUnisa ........................................................................................................................... 6
4.2
Study material ............................................................................................................................... 6
4.3
Library services and resources ..................................................................................................... 6
5
HOW TO STUDY ONLINE ............................................................................................................ 7
5.1
What does it mean to study fully online? ....................................................................................... 7
5.2
myUnisa tools ............................................................................................................................... 7
6
ASSESSMENT ............................................................................................................................. 7
6.1
Assessment plan .......................................................................................................................... 7
6.2
Year mark and final examination/other options ........................................................................... 14
7
CONCLUSION............................................................................................................................ 14
2
RST2601/101
1
INTRODUCTION
Dear Student
As part of this tutorial letter, we wish to inform you that Unisa has implemented a transformation
charter based on five pillars and eight dimensions. In response to this charter, we have also
placed curriculum transformation high on the agenda. For your information, curriculum
transformation includes the following pillars: student-centred scholarship, the pedagogical
renewal of teaching and assessment practices, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and
the infusion of African epistemologies and philosophies. These pillars and their principles will be
integrated at both the programme and module levels, as a phased-in approach. You will notice
the implementation thereof in your modules, and we encourage you to fully embrace these
changes during your studies at Unisa.
Welcome to the module RST2601 Understanding religion through objects, the senses and
technology. We trust that you will find this module both stimulating and personally enriching.
Because this is a fully online module, you will need to use myUnisa to study and complete the
learning activities for this module. Visit the website for RST2601 on myUnisa frequently. The
website for your module is RST2601-2020-S1/S2.
1.1
Getting started …
Owing to the nature of this module, you can read about the module and find your study material
online. Go to the website at https://my.unisa.ac.za and log in using your student number and
password. You will see this module in the row of modules displayed in the orange blocks at the
top of the webpage. Select the More tab if you cannot find the module you require in the blocks
displayed. Then click on the module you want to open.
We wish you much success in your studies!
2
OVERVIEW OF RST2601
2.1
Purpose
The purpose of this module RST2601 UNDERSTANDING RELIGION THROUGH OBJECTS,
THE SENSES AND TECHNOLOGY is to provide a critical analysis of the role of objects, the
senses and technology as material aspects of religion. Students who successfully complete this
module will be able to analyse these aspects within their social, political and economic contexts
across a selection of religious traditions, including African case studies.
Syllabus
The module consists of an introduction and three main parts.
1
In the introduction the focus is on key terms and critical theories in the study of material
aspects of religion.
2
The first main part examines the role of objects in a selection of religious traditions and in
the critical study of religion, with particular attention to African case studies.
3
The second part offers historically sensitive analyses of the function of the conventional
five senses and internal senses (visions and dreams) in a number of religious traditions,
again with special attention to African examples.
3
4
2.2
The third part provides a historically informed analysis of the uses that religions have
made of technological developments and of the opportunities that new technology is
offering religions.
Outcomes
Learning Outcome
1
Explain key concepts, critical theories and interdisciplinary approaches in the
study of material aspects of religion.
Assessment Criteria
1.
Key concepts such as material religion, objects, senses and technology are
explained in terms of current definitions and informed by critical theories.
2.
The shift from spiritualised, individualised and dematerialised to rematerialised,
embodied and social-critical theories of religion is explained in terms of a critique
of modernity.
3.
The key role of interdisciplinary approaches in the study of material aspects of
religion is explained.
Learning Outcome
2
Analyse the role of objects, the senses and technology across religious traditions
in a historically sensitive way within their social, political and economic contexts,
with particular attention to African case studies.
Assessment Criteria
1. Sacred objects in African indigenous religion, imperial theories of religion, the
major world religions, new religious movements and popular culture are analysed
in a historically nuanced way within their social, political and economic contexts.
2. The role of the five conventional senses and internal senses (visions and dreams)
are analysed in a comparative and historically nuanced way across religious
traditions, with specific attention to African examples.
3. The uses of technology in religious traditions are analysed in terms of history and
contemporary possibilities.
Learning Outcome
3
Critically engage with information technology to examine material aspects of
religion and be able to write academically about such aspects.
Assessment Criteria
1. IT skills to source and critically engage with OER's are developed to critically
examine material aspects of religion.
2.
Academic writing skills are developed in paragraphs and essays on material
aspects of religion.
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3
LECTURER(S) AND CONTACT DETAILS
3.1
Lecturer
The primary lecturer of this module is:
Prof Johan Strijdom
Department: Religious Studies and Arabic
Telephone: +27 12 429 6852 / Mobile +27 798193169
Email: [email protected]
The secondary lecturers for this module are:
Mr Denzil Chetty
Department: Religious Studies and Arabic
Tel: +27 12 429 4055
Email: [email protected]
Prof Michel Clasquin-Johnson
Department: Religious Studies and Arabic
Telephone: +27 12 4294793
E-mail: [email protected]
Dr Auwais Rafudeen
Department: Religious Studies and Arabic
Tel: +27 12 4296307
Email: [email protected]
3.2
Department
You can contact the Department of Religious Studies and Arabic as follows:
Telephone number: 012 429 4523
Email: [email protected]
If you want to contact us via email, please make sure that you give us the module code and
your student number. Lecturers work on a number of modules each and we may get emails to
which we must reply "That depends. Which module are we talking about?" Also make sure that
your subject line is descriptive, like "RST2601 - query about Assignment 2". If your subject is
something like "hello", your message may be viewed as junk e-mail by the system and deleted
before it even gets to us.
All queries that are not of a purely administrative nature but are about the content of this module
should be directed to us.
3.3
University
To contact the University, follow the instructions in the brochure Study @ Unisa. Remember to
have your student number available whenever you contact the University.
Whenever you contact a lecturer, please include your student number to enable the lecturer to
help you more effectively.
5
4
RESOURCES
4.1
Joining myUnisa
The myUnisa learning management system is the University's online campus which will help
you to communicate with your lecturers, with other students and with the administrative
departments at Unisa.
To go to the myUnisa website directly, go to https://my.unisa.ac.za. Click on the Claim UNISA
Login on the top of the screen on the myUnisa website. You will then be prompted to give your
student number in order to claim your initial myUnisa details, as well as your myLife email login
details.
For more information on myUnisa, consult the brochure Study @ Unisa, which you received
with your study material.
4.2
Study material
All study material for this module is electronically available, as indicated in the study guide.
4.3
Library services and resources
The Unisa Library offers a range of information services and resources:
 for brief information go to: https://www.unisa.ac.za/library/libatglance
 for more detailed Library information, go to
http://www.unisa.ac.za/sites/corporate/default/Library
 for research support and services (e.g. Personal Librarians and literature search
services), go to http://www.unisa.ac.za/sites/corporate/default/Library/Libraryservices/Research-support
The Library has created numerous Library guides: http://libguides.unisa.ac.za
Recommended guides:

request and find library material/download recommended material:
http://libguides.unisa.ac.za/request/request

postgraduate information services: http://libguides.unisa.ac.za/request/postgrad

finding and using library resources and tools:
http://libguides.unisa.ac.za/Research_skills

Frequently asked questions about the Library: http://libguides.unisa.ac.za/ask

Services to students living with disabilities:
http://libguides.unisa.ac.za/disability
Important contact information:
 https://libguides.unisa.ac.za/ask - Ask a Librarian
 [email protected] - technical problems accessing library online services
 [email protected] - general library related queries
 [email protected] - for queries related to library fines and payments
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5
HOW TO STUDY ONLINE
5.1
What does it mean to study fully online?
Studying fully online modules differs completely from studying some of your other modules at
Unisa.



5.2
All your study material and learning activities for online modules are designed to be
delivered online on myUnisa.
All your assignments must be submitted online. This means that you do all your
activities and submit all your assignments on myUnisa. In other words, you may NOT post
your assignments to Unisa using the South African Post Office.
All communication between you and the University happens online. Lecturers will
communicate to you by email and sms, as well as using the Announcements, the
Discussion Forums and the Questions and Answers tools. You can also use all of these
ways to ask questions and contact your lecturers.
myUnisa tools
The main tool that we will use is the Lessons tool. This tool will provide the content of and the
assessments for your module. At times you will be directed to join discussions with fellow
students and complete activities and assessments before you can continue with the module.
It is very important that you log in to myUnisa regularly. We recommend that you log in at least
once a week to do the following:



Check for new announcements. You can also set your myLife email account so that you
receive the announcement emails on your cell phone.
Do the Discussion Forum activities. When you do the activities for each learning unit, we
want you to share your answers with the other students in your group. You can read the
instructions and even prepare your answers offline, but you will need to go online to post
your messages. We have also provided a Social Cafe where you can socialise with the
other students in the module.
Do other online activities. For some of the learning unit activities you might need to post
something on the Blog tool, take a quiz or complete a survey under the Self-Assessment
tool. Do not skip these activities because they will help you complete the assignments and
the activities for the module.
We hope that by giving you extra ways to study the material and practise all of the activities, you
will succeed in the online module. To get the most out of the online module you MUST go online
regularly to complete the activities and assignments on time.
6
ASSESSMENT
6.1
Assessment plan
The following is a breakdown of the formal assessment activities as they become due during the
semester. For more detail on each activity, please see the relevant section on the MyUnisa site
for this module:
7
Assignment 01: Compulsory - 10% of the final mark
Due date
Unique number
Semester 1
26 February
711379
Semester 2
13 August
635875
Assignment (01)
This assignment counts towards 10% of the final mark. It must be submitted to get admission to
submit the e-portfolio as non-venue based examination.
The purpose of Assignment 01 is to test whether you have achieved the outcomes of
study unit 1.
1
After working through study unit 1, tell us in your own words what you think the study of
material religion entails. (250 words, 10 marks)
2
Briefly explain why the shift towards the analysis of material aspects of religion has
occurred in the academic study of religion. (250 words, 10 marks)
3
Why do you think is the interdisciplinary study of religions crucial to the study of material
aspects of religion? Illustrate by means of specific examples. (500 words, 20 marks)
4.1 Give an example of a sacred object in any TWO of the following religious traditions: African
indigenous religion, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism.
4.2 How would you go about to analyse the functions of the two chosen objects? In your
answer, you must indicate
how adherents engage the senses and rituals in their interaction with the chosen objects,
and
how phenomenological and critical theories discussed in this unit would impact on the
analysis of these objects.
(750 words, 60 marks)
Assignment 02: 30% of the final mark
Due date
Unique number
Semester 1
23 March
634438
Semester 2
3 September
503562
Assignment (02)
This assignment is based on SECTION A: OBJECTS. It counts towards 30% of the final mark.
1.
Fetish (30 marks)
The purpose of this part of Assignment 02 is to determine whether you have achieved the
outcomes of study unit 2.
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RST2601/101
Answer both the following questions:
1.1 How may focusing on an anchor on the east coast of South Africa illuminate the threefold
process in the formation of imperial theories of religion? How would you elaborate a critique
of this process? (ca 500 words; 15 marks)
1.2 In which ways can Coca-Cola and Tupperware be critically analysed as popular fetishes that
function like sacred objects? What would you consider the proper human attitude to and use
of such objects by human beings? (ca 500 words; 15 marks)
2.
Monuments (30 marks)
The purpose of this part of Assignment 02 is to test whether you have achieved the outcomes of
study unit 3.
Write an essay in which you offer a critical comparison of the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom
Park as case studies of sacred place (ca 1000 words; 30 marks).
Guidelines
Your essay needs to have
an introduction, in which you announce what you will do in the essay, define the key terms of
the essay (sacred place, monuments as sacred place) and state how you will do the critical
comparison of the case studies that illustrate the key concept
a body in which you develop your argument. You are expected to not merely offer a
separate, consecutive discussion of the two case studies (this is the preparatory work with
which we helped you in the course of study unit 3), but to elaborate a comparison and
critique of the structure and political, economic and social functions of the two cases
a conclusion, in which you summarise what you have done and what you have found
3.
Nature (40 marks)
The purpose of this part of Assignment 02 is to test whether you have achieved the outcomes of
study unit 4.
Do all three questions.
3.1 In the video you watched, you saw a pilgrim in the very last minute circumambulating Mount
Kailash the hard way, by doing prostrations around it. Independently research the role of
prostrations in various religions and write an assessment of the following question: Does
this level of bodily engagement heighten the religious significance of this person’s
pilgrimage, or is it simply excessive? To help you with this question, let me put the other
extreme to you: Instead of hiking around the mountain, why not just take a helicopter? Your
answer should show evidence of having thought about the role of ritual in religion and the
effort believers put into that ritual, in this case the ritual of pilgrimage. Try to be aware of the
role played by your own religious background in arriving at your conclusion. Your answer
should also include references to at least two independently discovered sources of
information (Wikipedia articles will not be accepted for this!). (300 words; 10 marks)
3.2 Have you or any close family member or friend ever gone on a journey that could be
described as a pilgrimage? Write an essay in which you describe the journey and explain
how and why this was different from a normal vacation. Creative essays that demonstrate an
understanding of the term “pilgrimage” in contexts outside the context of officially sanctioned
religious pilgrimages will be more highly rewarded. Also, we like to see local content here.
For example, if you are a Muslim, we would rather read how you visited the kramat of Sheik
9
Yusuf than how you went on hajj to Makkah. Your answer should also include references to
at least two independently discovered sources of information (Wikipedia articles will not be
accepted for this!). (300 words; 10 marks)
3.3 Answer the following questions as part of the third question under Nature:
3.3.1 No mountain in Africa is regarded by the New Age Movement as one of the seven Earth
chakras. However, there is a site in Africa that is regarded as an earth chakra. Find out what
it is by searching among the links in the List of References Cited below. Your answer should
name the place as well as the URL of the website where you found the answer. (50 words; 5
marks)
3.3.2 There is also a secondary list of ‘Elemental Vortice Locations’. These are thought to be less
powerful places than the Earth chakras, but still places of spiritual significance. One of them
is in South Africa. Use a search engine to find it. Your answer should name the place as well
as the URL of the website where you found the answer. (50 words; 5 marks)
3.3.3 Name and briefly describe in a paragraph an instance of pilgrimage, axis mundi or
circumambulation not mentioned in this unit. Bonus mark if your example is from Africa. Your
answer must include a reference to a website, book or article where you found the
information (Wikipedia is not acceptable for this!) (100 words; 10 marks)
Assignment 03: E-Portfolio as non-venue based examination – 60% of the final mark
Due date
Unique number
Semester 1
21 May
566504
Semester 2
22 October
560803
Assignment (03): E-portfolio
The e-portfolio as non-venue based examination is based on SECTION B: SENSES and
SECTION C: TECHNOLOGY, as well as the CONCLUSION of the study guide.
The e-portfolio as examination is to be submitted as Assignment 03 on myUnisa. It counts towards
60% of the final mark.
1.
SENSES
This part of the e-portfolio is based on SECTION B: SENSES.
1.1 Vision
The purpose of this part of the e-portfolio is to test whether you have achieved the outcomes of
study unit 5.
Write an essay in which you offer a critical comparison of Chidester’s analyses of the sense of
seeing in European Christian and indigenous Zulu religious traditions. (1000 words)
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RST2601/101
Guidelines
Your essay needs to have
an introduction, in which you announce what you will do in the essay, define the key terms of
the essay (the senses, the sense of seeing) and state how you will do the critical comparison
of the case studies that illustrate the key concept
a body in which you develop your argument. You are expected to not merely offer a separate,
consecutive discussion of the case studies, but to elaborate a comparison and critique of
Chidester’s analyses of the two cases
a conclusion, in which you summarise what you have done and what you have found.
1.2 Sound
The purpose of this part of the e-portfolio is to test whether you have achieved the outcomes of
study unit 6.
Sound in Islam ranges from the azaan through to the recited Quran, and includes sacred poetry
and sacred music. Using this study unit as a basis, but consulting at least three other sources,
write an essay on the place of sound, hearing and listening in Islam. The essay must be in your
own words and contain your own reflections on the topic. (1000 words)
1.3 Television
The purpose of this part of the e-portfolio is to test whether you have achieved the outcomes of
study unit 7.
On the basis of what you have seen, heard and read in study unit 7, answer the following
questions (1000 words):
1.3.1 Has the study of religion changed? Do we approach religion differently in the way we classify
it and the way we try to find out how religious people see and hear their world?
1.3.2 Has the way religion is presented in television documentaries changed?
1.3.3 Does the way religion is presented on television limit what we can see and hear?
Note from Prof Clasquin
I have written down my findings (in which I also include references to episodes we did not need to
watch for this study unit) and you will receive a link to it after the due date for this assignment
(Keep an eye out on the Announcements section on MyUnisa). However, this does not mean that
your mark will reflect how close you came to my own ideas. There are no right and wrong answers
here. There are only good arguments based on close observations, and not-so-good arguments.
2.
TECHNOLOGY
This part of the e-portfolio is based on SECTION C: TECHNOLOGY.
2.1 Media
The purpose of this part of the e-portfolio is to test whether you have achieved the outcomes of
study unit 8.
11
In study unit 8, we have explored how “media” is used as a “medium” to mediate a particular
religious experience. To unpack this, we drew on a case study of “embodiment” and
“disembodiment” in Hinduism by using the online puja as religious interaction. Over the past years,
we have also seen African Religion start to embrace media. We now want you to draw on the
knowledge gained in this study unit and apply this to the following question:
Watch the following video entitled “Sangomas in the Twenty-First Century”
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65BmbTpCAvo) and discuss how media (technologymediated spaces) are mediating an alternative traditional healing ritual interaction and
transforming roles of the traditional healer in African Religion.
Guidelines:
Construct your answer in an essay of 1000 words (minimum).
In your answer focus on the following:
- The importance of traditional healing as a “ritual” to an African Religion adherent/ follower?
- How has media (technology-mediated spaces) been incorporated by traditional healers to
expand the ritual space?
- Does the integration of media now offer an African Religion adherent a sense of
“disembodiment” or “embodiment” in the online traditional healing ritual?
- How has the incorporation of media created a new economy of ritual practice?
Use the prescribed video as the basis of your answer and substantiate further using additional
resources.
Don’t forget to cite all sources used.
(1000 words)
2.2 Virtuality
The purpose of this part of the e-portfolio is to test whether you have achieved the outcomes of
study unit 9.
In study unit 9, we explored the notion of “virtuality” by drawing on digital video games and its
“immersive” experience of the user. In order to further contextualize the “immersive” experience,
we drew on “Bioshock Infinite” as a case study. Through our study of Bioshock Infinite, we noticed
three important features, (1) the gamer identity; (2) the game religious aesthetics; and (3) the
game ritualization. One of the major challenges in Africa, is the lack of digital video games being
designed and developed in Africa. With this in mind, complete the following:
You have been contracted as a game developer to design a digital video game that speaks to the
African context and incorporates elements of African Religion. As part of this contract, you are
required to develop a Game Design Document Outline (i.e. a storyboard) that illustrates the main
concept of your digital video game. Your Game Design Document Outline should include the
following (but not limited to these):
Game Name
-
Provide a name for your digital video game. You could also
include a sub-title. It must capture the main concept of your
digital video game.
Story and Narrative
-
Who are the main characters of your digital video game?
What is the main plot of your digital video game?
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RST2601/101
Game World
(Aesthetics)
-
What is the general look and feel of the world?
Describe the game setting that you envisage?
What type of senses do you envisage the gamer encountering in
this world?
Game Play
- What is the main objective of the game?
- What rituals do you plan to integrate?
- How will you incorporate the game player into the rituals being
enacted? How will they be immersed into the gaming script?
- What do you hope to achieve with the game (i.e. do you intend on
challenging notion of Western knowledge on African religion,
decolonisation, capitalism, gender roles, etc.)?
Target Audience
- Who are your target audiences?
Motivation
- What makes this digital video game unique and different from
other Western digital video games?
Guidelines:
Construct your Game Design Document Outline with a minimum of 1000 words.
Use the headings in the table.
Be creative and “own” your game – innovation is key.
(1000 words)
3.
CONCLUSION
The purpose of this part of the e-portfolio, based on study unit 10, is to give you the opportunity to
reflect back on the module as a whole.
Answer the following questions.
3.1 The concept of material religion
Return to the definition of material religion that you gave right at the beginning of study unit 1. Now
write down your revised definition of material religion on the basis of what you have learned in this
module. Indicate in which respects you have changed your concept of material religion since that
first definition. (200 words)
3.2 Methods to study material religion
Write an essay in which you discuss, with appropriate examples, methods that can be used to
analyse objects, the senses and technology as aspects of material religion. You must include
among your case studies examples from South Africa. (800 words)
13
6.2
Year mark and final examination/other options
Your year mark for this module is as follows:

You will write two assignments for 10% + 30% of your total mark respectively. This will add
up to 40%, which is known as the year mark.

There is no formal examination. Instead you will write an e-portfolio (which you will submit
on myUnisa as “Assignment 03”) which will count for 60% of your final mark.
7
CONCLUSION
Do not hesitate to contact us by email if you are experiencing problems with the content of this
tutorial letter or with any academic aspect of the module.
We wish you a fascinating and satisfying journey through the learning material and trust that
you will complete the module successfully.
Enjoy the journey!
Prof Johan Strijdom
RST2601_2020_101_E_B
2019-05-27
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