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Literature and Film of Exorcism

This course listing applies to a Fall 2011 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Fall 2011
English 98/198
2 Unit(s)

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About the Course:

 

Is exorcism "alive and well" as some priest from the recent exorcist film, The Rite, claims? Or, is it merely the church's spectacular ticket to revive interest in itself? Despite our almost complete substitution of iPods for boom boxes, 'nooks for real books,' and cell phones for wall phones, there is also the comeback of the ancient rite of exorcism. Whether you are religious, spiritual or neither, secular interest in exorcism is present in popular culture. And, judging by the continuing fascination and horror associated with the original Exorcist with Linda Blair, and the myriad of demonic possession and possession films arriving at the box office, it's not too hard to guess what the church was thinking when it created a university-like course in Rome on the topic of exorcism for the 21st century. Where did science and technology go wrong, huh?

Through a few texts, articles and films (of course), we will delve into what exorcism is, where it came from, and why it has stuck around so long. We will not only look into demonic possession, but also a more secularized, psychological aspect of this 'medieval' concept. Is demonic possession nothing more than a "psycho-epileptic" disorder, as some pompous John Hopkins graduate argued on The Exorcism of Emily Rose? Or, is it a "typical human experience" in which supernatural entities enter a person, as the woman with the seriously weird voice elaborates on in the aforementioned film?

If you like, come join me in tearing apart the cases of young girls with turning heads, badly made pea soup (Mom's a bad cook, I guess), and college freshmen like Emily Rose who eat massive spiders from inside her house's walls. You'll get to read about demonic possession cases too, where older women and men write about their mid-life experiences! Then YOU will tell me what you think at the end of the course, and I will tell you what I think. You will base your opinions upon the various articles and records that will be presented to you about possession and exorcism and the proposed reasons for these events. The end of the course will thus present you with a mock courtroom setting where you will ferociously debate this controversial and often misunderstood topic.

There will be two short papers, short readings almost every week, and required films that you must watch either in class or before class. This subject, though a bit on the creepy side, is also a worthy candidate for academic study because it exposes the paradoxical nature that humanity possesses. Whether you see demonic possession as a reality, or as a cover-up for one's failures and torments, it hits upon a part of the human body and mind that science has of yet, not been able to touch.

In the words of the pro-exorcism lawyer from Emily Rose, "Is it possible?..." If so, what does that mean? If not, what does that mean?

 

How to Enroll:

Whomever is interested should arrive as promptly as possible to class on the first day (September 1, 2011). However, if you have a class or other obligation right before this decal begins and are unable to make it on time, it will be fine if you arrive a few minutes late. Depending on the number of interested students, CCNs will either be distributed there, or there will be a short survey required. Please email me if you are particularly interested in this decal or if you have any questions.

Course Contact: crystalherrera16 AT berkeley.edu

Faculty Sponsor: Emily Thornbury

Time & Location:

SectionFacilitatorsSizeLocationTimeStartsStatusCCNs
Section 1Crystal Herrera
35123 WheelerTh 5p-7p9/01full

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Course info last modified August 17, 2011. This page has been viewed 2179 times.

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