FALL 1999 SYLLABUS

MILLENNIUM SEMINAR

Rels A442-051

TR 9:30 - 10:45 CM 301

Dr. Catherine Wessinger

Bobet 406

office: 865-3182

home: 394-2207

wessing@loyno.edu

http://www.loyno.edu/~wessing

OBJECTIVES: To understand the diversity of religious patterns that scholars have termed millennialism, the expectation of an imminent transition to a collective state of salvation either earthly or heavenly. Significant millennial patterns include catastrophic millennialism (apocalypticism), progressive millennialism, and nativist millennial movements (which can be either catastrophic or progressive). Among millennial groups that become involved in violence, three types will be distinguished: assaulted millennial groups, fragile millennial groups, and revolutionary millennial groups. This study of millennialism will be cross-cultural with an emphasis on recent and contemporary movements.

Texts:

Daniel Wojcik, The End of the World As We Know It: Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America (New York University Press, 1997).

 

Thomas Robbins and Susan J. Palmer, eds., Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements (Routledge, 1997)

Catherine Wessinger, How the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven’s Gate (Seven Bridges Press, 1999).

 

T Aug. 31

Introductory Class

Discuss objectives of class, syllabus, course requirements, basic terms.

CATEGORIES AND SOCIOLOGY OF MILLENNIALISM

R Sept. 2

Definition of Categories of Millennialism

ROBBINS & PALMER: Catherine Wessinger, "Millennialism With and Without the Mayhem," 47-59; James A. Aho, "The Apocalypse of Modernity," 61-72.

T Sept. 7

Millennialism in America

WOJCIK, "Approaching Doomsday: The Contours of American Apocalyptic Belief," and "The American Apocalyptic Legacy," 1-36.

 

R Sept. 9

Sociology of Millennialism

ROBBINS & PALMER: Thomas Robbins and Susan J. Palmer, "Patterns of Contemporary Apocalypticism," 1-27; David G. Bromley, "Constructing Apocalypticism: Social and Cultural Elements of Radical Organization," 31-45.

 

T Sept. 14

When Prophecy Fails

ROBBINS & PALMER: Robert W. Balch, John Domitrovich, Barbara Lynn Mahnke, and Vanessa Morrison, "Fifteen Years of Failed Prophecy: Coping with Cognitive Dissonance in a Baha’i Sect," 73-90.

 

R Sept. 16

EXAM #1 (5 Identifications, 1 Discussion Question)

 

DIVERSE EXPRESSIONS OF MILLENNIALISM

T Sept. 21

TERM PAPER TOPIC NEEDS TO BE APPROVED BY INSTRUCTOR

Conservative Protestant Millennialisms

WOJCIK, "Signs of the Endtimes: Hal Lindsey and Dispensationalist Prophecy Beliefs," 37-59.

ROBBINS & PALMER: Anson Shupe, "Christian Reconstructionism and the Angry Rhetoric of Neo-Postmillennialism," 195-206.

 

R Sept. 23

Seventh-day Adventists and Latter-day Saints

ROBBINS & PALMER: Ronald Lawson, "The Persistence of Apocalypticism within a Denominationalizing Sect: The Apocalyptic Fringe Groups of Seventh-day Adventism," 207-28; Massimo Introvigne, "Latter Day Revisited: Contemporary Mormon Millenarianism," 229-44.

 

T Sept. 28

Roman Catholic Millennialism

WOJCIK, "Apocalptic Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in New York City," 60-96.

ROBBINS & PALMER: Michael W. Cuneo, " The Vengeful Virgin: Case Studies in Contemporary American Catholic Apocalypticism," 175-94.

 

R Sept. 30

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND OUTLINE OF TERM PAPER ARE DUE. 5 PTS. DEDUCTED FROM THE FINAL GRADE OF THE TERM PAPER IF LATE.

The Nuclear Age: Secular Apocalyptic Themes and Fatalism: Survivalists and Punk Rockers

WOJCIK, "Secular Apoclayptic Themes in the Nuclear Era," and "Fatalism and Apocolyptic Beliefs," 97-147

 

T Oct. 5

More Secular Millennialists

ROBBINS & PALMER, Philip Lamy, "Secularizing the Millennium: Survivalists, Militias, and the New World Order," 93-117; Martha F. Lee, "Environmental Apocalypse: The Millennial Ideology of ‘Earth First!’" 119-137; John M. Bozeman, "Technological Millenarianism in the United States," 139-58.

 

R Oct. 7

Post-Cold War Apocalypticism; UFOs and Extraterrestrials in Millennialism

WOJCIK, "The Transformation of Apocalyptic Traditions in the Post-Cold War Era," 148-74; "Emergent Apocalyptic Beliefs about UFOs and Extraterrestrials," and "Conclusions," 175-215.

T Oct. 12

EXAM #2 (5 Identifications, 1 Discussion Question)

MILLENNIALISM & VIOLENCE

R Oct. 14

Theory

WESSINGER: "Introduction," and "How the Millennium Comes Violently"

(F Oct. 15 - MID-TERM GRADES DUE)

T Oct. 19

Jonestown

WESSINGER, "Jonestown"

 

R Oct. 21

ROUGH DRAFT OF TERM PAPER IS DUE. 5 PTS. DEDUCTED FROM THE FINAL GRADE OF THE TERM PAPER IF LATE.

Branch Davidians

WESSINGER, "Branch Davidians"

MOVIE: "Waco: The Rules of Engagement"

 

T Oct. 26

Branch Davidians

WESSINGER, "Branch Davidians"

MOVIE: "Waco: The Rules of Engagement"

 

R Oct. 28

Branch Davidians

Further discussion.

T Nov. 2

Aum Shinrikyo

WESSINGER, "Aum Shinrikyo"

R Nov. 4

NO CLASS

 

T Nov. 9

Solar Temple

WESSINGER, "Solar Temple"

 

R Nov. 11

Heaven’s Gate

WESSINGER, "Heaven’s Gate"

 

T Nov. 16

Chen Tao

WESSINGER, "Assessing the Potential for Violence: Chen Tao"

 

R Nov. 18

Comparative Conclusions

WESSINGER, "Comparative Conclusions."

 

T Nov. 23

EXAM #3 (5 Identifications, 1 Discussion Question)

Dr. Wessinger will be out of town. Someone will proctor the exam.

 

R Nov. 25

OFF - THANKSGIVING

 

STUDENT RESEARCH

TWO HARD COPIES OF THE TERM PAPER MUST BE TURNED INTO THE INSTRUCTOR ON THE DATE OF THE STUDENT’S PRESENTATION. IF THE HARD COPIES ARE TURNED IN LATE, 5 PTS. WILL BE DEDUCTED FROM THE GRADE OF THE PAPER.

THE TERM PAPER MUST BE POSTED ON THE STUDENT’S WEB PAGE ON THE DATE OF THE STUDENT’S PRESENTATION. IF THE PAPER IS POSTED LATE, THEN 10 PTS. WILL BE DEDUCTED FORM THE GRADE OF THE PAPER.

T Nov. 30

Student Presentations

 

R Dec. 2

Student Presentations

 

T Dec. 7

Student Presentations

 

Thursday, Dec. 16 9:00 - 11:00 a.m. EXAM #4 (5 Identifications, 1 Discussion Question)

 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

The 4 exams (50 pts. each) count two-thirds of the final grade. The remaining third of the final grade will consist of the term paper (50 pts.), discussion (50 pts).

GRADING SCALE:

A - 92%; B - 83%; C - 71%; D - 65%.

There will be no make-up exams except in cases of severe illness or if there is a family emergency. In either case, the instructor should be notified at once.

The course is taught in seminar format, therefore discussion in this course is essential. The discussion grade also will be determined by the student’s attendance record. The discussion grade will include a 10 minute presentation of the student’s research and class discussion of that research at the end of the semester.

The research paper should be 10-12 pages typed and double-spaced. The instructor must approve the student’s term paper topic. The topic must be one for which there are adequate resources for a substantive research paper. Bearing this consideration in mind, the student will have freedom to select a topic relating to millennialism in which she or he has a particular interest.

The World Wide Web is an abundant source of information on millennial groups. Students will be encouraged to utilize the WWW in researching their papers and to share information about relevant Web sites with the class. A guest speaker will be invited to class who will discuss evaluating information available on the web.

The Final Exam will cover information provided in the student’s research papers. To facilitate class access to those papers, the student is required to post his or her paper to a web site constructed by the student. One class period will be devoted to instruction in constructing web pages.

The final three classes of the semester are set aside for student presentations on their term paper topics. The term paper must be posted to the student’s web page by the date of the student’s class presentation. If it is posted later than that, it will be considered a late paper.

A bibliography and outline of the term paper are required well before the date the term paper is due. Students are to keep the instructor informed of their progress on the research paper. A rough draft of the term paper is required to be turned in for comments by the instructor. The final draft of the term paper is due at the end of the semester. Five points will be deducted from the grade of a paper each time the deadlines are not kept. Two hard copies of the final term paper must be given to the instructor on the date of the student’s presentation in class. If the hard copies of the term paper are not turned in to the instructor on that date, five points will be deducted from the grade of thepaper. If the paper is not posted to the student’s web page by that same date, ten points will be deducted from the paper’s final grade.

Since the assigned readings all relate to "catastrophic millennialism" (the expectation that there will be a catastrophic transition to the imminent collective salvation), the students are encouraged, but not required, to research examples of "progressive millennialism" (the expectation that there will be a noncatastrophic but still imminent transition to the collective salvation) for their term papers. Progressive millennialism is understudied by scholars, but it is a significant millennial pattern.