Observation Paper

Observation Paper

Observation Paper (17%): 5-6 double-spaced pages (~1250-1800 words), 1-inch margins, 12-point, standard font. Due by Saturday, July 20th at 11:59pm on iCollege. For the purposes of this observation paper, you will visit a local place of worship for a religious service outside of your own religious tradition. The goal here is to visit a religious service for a religious tradition with which you are not already familiar. The paper is a descriptive paper, not a research paper: if you find yourself doing book, library, or internet research, you are doing this assignment wrong. You should also refrain from simply rehashing information about the religion, place of worship, and its practices that were provided to you (perhaps, during your visit) either in written documents or conversation; rather, the paper should be based on your own observations and experiences. The point of the assignment is to use your paper to take your reader on a journey with you: show your reader what you observed and took in during your experience at this place of worship in as much vivid detail as you can. I want to feel like I am seeing and hearing and observing what you saw, heard, and observed when I read your paper. Be as descriptive and detailed as you can: show me, don’t just tell me; the more particular details and anecdotes you can use to paint a picture of your experience, the better. When writing your paper, a good place to begin might be your preconceptions. What did you expect to see in the religious service given what you already might know or think about the religion in question, either from the course or from elsewhere? What were your assumptions about the religion going into the visit? How did you envision it? You might want to read ahead about the religious tradition you are visiting, if we have not covered it in the course already. Next, describe your experience at the religious service you visited in as much detail as you can. This includes stating the exact name of the place of worship you visited as well as the service you attended and the date and time of your visit. Make your description as detailed as you can, and base it on your own experience and not (largely) based what you may have read in the textbook, online, or in texts distributed by the religious facility you are visiting. You may wish to rely on notes you took either during or just after your visit, the latter of which might be more respectful. Try to paint as vivid and accurate picture for your reader as you can. Here are some example questions to think about and potentially address: What is the place of worship like – the architecture, the interior, exterior spaces? What do the religious practitioners do at their place of worship? What is the religious service like? How is it ordered? Is there a formalized practice of worship? How is the time used? What do the congregants (laity) versus the religious leadership (clergy) do during the religious service? How involved is everyone? Are people social and outgoing, before or after services? What is the sense of community there? How aware/welcoming are they to visitors? Are there other divisions among the congregation? What are the roles of women in particular? Is their music/art/dancing? What sorts? Is it formally involved in ritual/worship, or does it have a relaxed, informal role? What sorts of texts or scriptures are used, if any? What sorts of practices or rituals are performed? What objects are involved in rituals? Who performs them? Can you tell the difference between what is considered sacred (or taboo) and what is treated as ordinary (or everyday)? Were there any overt elements of religious doctrine/belief system, religious ethics/morals, and religious experience/emotions that you observed? After you describe your new experience and observations, you will then engage in a comparison and contrast exercise both with (1) your own preconceptions about the religious tradition you visited, and also (2) with your own religious tradition/religious faith (if any) and your experiences therein. (1) In making your description (or afterwards) address the question of how the religious service you observed met or challenged your expectations from what you’ve already learned (if anything (yet)!) from the course or from your own preconceptions. What did you see that was expected? What was unexpected? How did your experience live up to or challenge your expectations? Describe the ways in which it was like what you thought it would be and describe the ways in which it was quite different from your expectations. What did you learn that was new from this experience? Feel free to draw on concepts we have learned about religion in general (Module/ Chapter 1) and from the specific religion you are observing, in order to enhance your discussion and make it more specific; still, don’t get bogged down in technical exposition of background detail on the religion—it is not the point of the paper to rehash what you know from class or research about the religious faith in question. (2) Next, you should also discuss how this religious service compares to or contrasts with the religious services/experiences in your own religious tradition or faith (if you have one or grew up with one/several). What is similar? What is different? In what ways? Be as specific and descriptive as you can: the more vivid and detailed a picture you can present your reader the better. When visiting places of worship, be sure to remain respectful while being observant: many religious communities will not allow use of electronics or even note-taking during a religious service. Please find out the center’s expectations regarding your attire and behavior prior to attending. This means, IMPORTANTLY, before you attend religious services outside of your tradition, please contact them in advance to find out about any requirements or requests they might have for visitors, observers, or attendees (including, e.g., wardrobe requirements, preferred visiting times, technology use, or note-taking ability). This will save everyone involved time and frustration. Contact information for most religious centers can be found online as well as on the The Pluralism Project Website, which provides a list of Atlanta area (or other metro) Religious Centers Policy on Citations & Academic Honesty: Academic integrity is a must: no plagiarism, cheating, or copying of others work will be tolerated whatsoever. Please see the University’s Policy on Academic Honesty, and the Dean’s Website on Academic Honesty. If you rely on materials from somewhere else, whether assigned readings or elsewhere (e.g. online or distributed materials from the religious facility you visit), you must cite your sources at the points in your paper where you use them. There is no shame whatsoever in drawing upon someone else’s ideas provided you give her or him proper credit. Academics and professionals regularly draw upon each other’s’ work, but they use citations when they do so. You must cite even when you paraphrase rather than directly quote: if the idea, even if not the exact words, came from someone else, you must provide a citation. Don’t “borrow” an idea or a quote without attribution. I do not require a specific citation style or format, but the content of your citation should enable the reader to easily find where you derived the material. Citations should occur at the points in your paper where you are utilizing or drawing upon the material you are citing. Regardless of whether you are directly quoting or paraphrasing, and regardless of whether you are using footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical citations, if you got the idea from someone else, cite it where you use it. When in doubt, attribute. Merely having a Works Cited page at the end of your paper is not sufficient attribution for works your quoted from or drew upon in your paper. It is not enough to put a works cited page at the end if you did not note the places in your paper where you cited that material (whether parenthetically, with footnotes, or endnotes). A Works Cited page is just a general list of references; it is not a replacement for specific citations of works you draw upon at the points you use them in your essay. In papers for my students, I personally do not care how you do your citations, stylistically. It can be a footnote, endnote, parenthetical citation, etc., and it does not have to follow any particular rulebook of citation format (MLA, Chicago, etc.). Note: this lenience may not apply for other professors! As a matter of what substantively goes into your citation, your citations should provide enough detail that your reader can readily find where you got the material you are referencing or drawing upon. Again, I, personally, do not really care how you achieve this, though others may. For instance, if you just list a last name and a page number in a footnote/endnote/parenthetical, and then have a Works Cited at the end to spell out what these names refer to, that’s fine. Or, e.g., if you have a scheme where your first footnote lists the whole reference, and then subsequent citations of that work use an abbreviation to reference back to that original citation, that’s fine too. As long as your citations make it easy enough for the reader to find where you got the material (down to the relevant page in the work you are citing—though, not if a website), that should suffice. The rule is, when in doubt, attribute: always cite your sources. It is always better to err on the side of over-citing than under-citing. If you do not cite your sources, then this constitutes plagiarism, which I am bound by College and University policy to treat as a disciplinary matter not just a grading matter. Be advised: iCollege automatically checks for plagiarized and similar text across the internet, including your fellow classmates this year or years past. Please do not try to get away with academic dishonesty and plagiarism: it just isn’t worth it. Your own work is always the better option, and it’s the reason you are here to begin with. Observation Paper (17%): 5-6 double-spaced pages (~1250-1800 words), 1-inch margins, 12-point, standard font.