From handshakes and toasts to chant and genuflection, ritual pervades our social interactions and religious practices. Still, few of us could identify all of our daily and festal ritual behaviors, much less explain them to an outsider. Similarly, because of the variety of activities that qualify as ritual and their many contradictory yet, in many ways, equally legitimate interpretations, ritual seems to elude any systematic historical and comparative scrutiny. In this book, Catherine Bell offers a practical introduction to ritual practice and its study; she surveys the most influential theories of religion and ritual, the major categories of ritual activity, and the key debates that have shaped our understanding of ritualism. Bell refuses to nail down ritual with any one definition or understanding. Instead, her purpose is to reveal how definitions emerge and evolve and to help us become more familiar with the interplay of tradition, exigency, and self-expression that goes into constructing this complex social medium.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
Former Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Santa Clara University
Table of ContentsPart 1 Theories: The History of Interpretation 1 Myth or Ritual: Questions of Origin and Essence Early Theories and Theorists They Myth and Ritual Schools The Phenomenology of Religions Psychoanalytic Approatches to Ritual Profile: Interpreting the Akitu Festival Conclusion 2 Ritual and Society: Questions of Social Funciton and Structure Early Theories of Social Solidarity Functionalism Neofunctional Systems Analyses Structuralism Magic, Religion, and Science Profile: Interpreting the Mukanda Initiation Conclusion 3 Ritual Symbols, Syntax, and Praxis: Questions of Cultural Meaning and Interpretation Symbolic Systems and Symbolic Action Linguistics Performance Practice Profile: Interpreting British and Swazi Enthronement Rites Conclusion Part II Rites: The Spectrum of Ritual Activities 4 Basic Genres of Ritual Action Rites of Passage Calendrical Rites Rites of Affliction Feasting, Fasting, and Festivals Political Rites Conclusion Part III Contexts: The Fabric of Ritual Life 6 Ritual Density Systems Typologies Orthopraxy and Orthodoxy Traditional and Secular Oral and Literate Church, Sect, and Cult Conclusion 7 Ritual Change Tradition and Transformation Ritual Invention Media and Message Conclusion 8 Ritual Reification Repudiating, Returning, Romancing The Emergence of "Ritual" Conclusion
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