Arnold van Gennep worksheet.docx

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Department
Religious Studies
Course
RELSTDS 4972
Professor
Sarah Iles Johnston
Semester
Spring

Description
Arnold van Gennep: (1873­1957) I. Background A. Mentors/training/intellectual tradition  French anthropologist and was born in Ludwigsburg, Germany, his father a  descendant of French emigrants. [ER: VG]  He became attached to the region known as Savoy in France; He was to travel  through Savoy, village by village, collecting ethnographic and folkloric materials.  [ER: VG]  Van Gennep had a diversified and original university education at the École  Pratique des Hautes Études and the École des Langues Orientales in Paris; his  studies included general linguistics, ancient and modern Arabic, Egyptology,  Islamic studies, and studies of the religions of primitive peoples. [ER: VG]  He possessed a rare gift for learning languages. [ER: VG]  From 1912 to 1915, he taught ethnology at the University of Neuchâtel in  Switzerland, however was later expelled for expressing doubts of Swiss neutrality  during WWI. [ER: VG]  Afterwards, he made his living by the publication of numerous articles and  periodic reports, lecturing, and commissioned translations. [ER: VG]  His voluminous production can be divided into two periods separated by his most  important work, Les rites de passage (1909). [ER: VG]  In the first part he had been occupied with the problems posed by the English  school of anthropology, concerning totemism, taboo, the original forms of religion  and society, and the relationships between myth and rite. [ER: VG]  Van Gennep was a nonconformist with regard to his ideas, which obliged him to  live at the periphery of academic institutions. [ER: VG] B. Principal geographical and historical concerns  French folklore  Indigenous communities  Middle eastern cultures C. Principal thematic concerns  Cultural ceremonies that involves the passage of one state to another and from  one world, whether cosmic or social, to another.  Ritual studies.  “Pivoting” of the sacred.  Tripartite schema. D. Attitude toward modern culture  These rites are evident within modern culture, however this is my own projection. II. Method/Mode of Operation A. Sources  Personal experiences  Ethnographies  Academic research  B. Categories  Rite of passage  Separation  Boundary  Reaggregation  “Ceremonial sequence”  He also introduces the concept of the “pivoting” of the sacred—that is, the idea  that the sacred is not an absolute but rather an alternating value, an indication of  the alternating situations in which an individual finds himself. [ER: VG] C. Comparison  Cross­cultural comparisons D. Methodology  Ethnography  Folklore analysis  Anthropology III. T
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