Orsi, Madonna of 115th Street (Sept 25-30)

by admin - September 23rd, 2019

Book cover for Madonna of 115th street

Our quick tour of American religious history has brought us up to the end of the 19th century and the turn of the 20th, a period in which waves of new immigrants arrived in the United States, many of them Jewish or Catholic from southern and eastern Europe. They brought their religious traditions and cultures, often entering an atmosphere of mutual suspicion about the effect their presence would have on the nation and its existing religious cultures.

For the next two classes, we will read and discuss Robert Orsi’s masterpiece of religious ethnography, Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950, which examines Italian Catholic devotional practices in New York’s East Harlem neighborhood that center on worship of the Virgin Mary. Orsi is a Professor of History and Catholic Studies at Northwestern University.

I posted Discussion Questions for our two class sessions on Blackboard, also here.

Chapters 1-5 for Wed Sept 25

Chapters 6-8 for Mon Sept 30

You can download these as Word docs and type directly into them as a guide for your notetaking: these are not homework assignments and don’t need to be turned in. They are just assists for your own reading and preparation for class.

Relevant links:

a fascinating 5-minute NPR piece from 2015 about the Madonna of 115th Street’s image being refurbished and what she — and the ritual and cultural practices associated with her — continue to mean for 21st-century New York Italian Catholics in East Harlem.

The Madonna of 115th Street, in 2015

See also: video of the 201 festa

Welcome to HI 345, Fall 2019

by admin - August 30th, 2019

Welcome, class members for Fall 2019. I look forward to meeting everyone at our first class, Wednesday Sept 4 at 2:00 pm, in Sullivan 314.

I have posted the syllabus in Blackboard and on our course website.

Please bring the small Beal book, Religion in America: A Very Short Introduction to class with you on Day 1. You will want to read the Introduction ahead of time.

This website is also the archive for previous versions of the course; you can ignore any post tagged Fall 2012.