1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Custom Sections
  14. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  15. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  16. Severe Weather Protocol
  17. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  18. Religious Observances
  19. UAct Statement

Senior Capstone Seminar

REL 490-001Spring 2017 | 3 Credit Hours

Recitation or Discussion

Michael Altman

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

A seminar offered spring semester of each year for seniors pursuing a major or minor in religious studies or minor in Judaic studies. The professor and subject of the seminar rotate through the four areas of the curriculum. Required of all majors and minors in the Department. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

This semester REL 490 will focus on sacrifice. Moving between social theory and case studies we will ask a number of questions. What is a sacrifice? What is the social function of sacrifice? Where can we find sacrifice in the modern world? Thus, we will explore sacrifice as theory, practice, and rhetoric.

 We will also be thinking about where we can find sacrifice in the past and present. To that end, the final project in this class will be a collaboratively produced podcast. To prepare you for producing an original podcast segment, we will listen to a variety of podcast episodes throughout the semester, have tutorials on audio equipment and software, and complete three preliminary audio assignments.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
  • HUBERT / SACRIFICE (Required)

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will…

1.    recall major theories of sacrifice.

2.    evaluate theories of sacrifice

3.    synthesize theories of sacrifice

4.    apply theories of sacrifice to cultural phenomenon

5.    produce digital audio stories for a general audience

Other Course Materials


UA Box: http://oit.ua.edu/oit/ua-box-welcome/uaboxinfo/

All course readings beyond the required books will be in a shared Box folder. We will also use it to store and share files for your podcast project and audio assignments.


I will be using the Blackboard grade book.


We will be using Padlet as a class bulletin board (think Pinterest but less recipes) to share ideas, apps, videos, audio, brainstorms, and anything else that will help us throughout the semester. The course Padlet is at: https://padlet.com/michaeljaltman/REL490

Podcast App

You will need an app of your choice that allows you to easily find, download/stream, and stream the podcast episodes assigned each week. If you have trouble ask me and I can recommend one.

Audio Software

You will need some free and basic audio software to complete the assignments in this class. I will give out details on where to find the software and which apps might work best for you as the semester progresses.

Outline of Topics

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE (This is going to change.) 

Jan. 23:          Introductions 

Jan. 30:          Jill Robbins “Sacrifice” (Box)

                        Kathryn McClymond “Sacrifice and Violence” (Box)

                        Michael J. Altman “Podcasting Religious Studies”


Startup #16: The Secret Formula


Feb. 6:            Sanford Media Center Day  

Feb. 13:          E. B. Tylor “From Primitive Culture” (Box)

            William Robertson Smith “From The Religion of the Semites” (Box)

James G. Frazer “From The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion” (Box)

Audio Assignment 1 Due 

Feb. 20:          Hubert and Mauss Sacrifice


Mystery Show Case #2 Britney


Mystery Show Case #3 Belt Buckle


Feb. 27:          Emile Durkheim “From Elementary Forms of Religious Life” (Box)


                        Reply All Episode #50 The Cathedral


                        Reply All Episode #38 Today’s the Day


March 6:         Georges Bataille “From The Accursed Share” (Box)

Bataille Theory of Religion beginning through Part I


Welcome to Night Vale Episode #2 Glow Cloud


Welcome to Night Vale Episode #26 Faceless Old Woman


Welcome to Night Vale Episode #74 Civic Changes


Audio Assignment 2 Due 


March 20:      Bataille Theory of Religion Part II to the end.

Jean-Luc Nancy “The Unsacrificeable” (Box)

                        (I suggest you finish Baptized in Blood by this week) 

March 27:      Maurice Bloch Prey Into Hunter 

April 3:            Nancy Jay “From Throughout Your Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, and Paternity” (Box)

                        Carolyn Marvin and David W. Ingle “Blood Sacrifice and the Nation” (Box)

                        Audio Assignment 3 Due (Requires you to have read Baptized in Blood to complete)                       

April 10:         Podcast Workshop 

April 17:         Podcast Workshop 

April 24:         Listening Party

                        Final Podcast Segments Due

Exams and Assignments


Readings and podcasts are listed underneath each date on the schedule. Complete the readings and listen to the podcasts before you come to class that day.

 Readings from outside the required books are in the course’s UA Box folder: https://alabama.box.com/v/REL490SP2017  

PRINT THE READINGS. I recommend you annotate your readings. Write in your book. Write on the article. Make notes, underline, and highlight things.  


Reading Responses 25%

For every class you must bring a response to the reading to class. Your response should be a paragraph or two in length, between half a page and a page. In it, you should engage the reading by offering an analysis, a critique, or raising any questions the reading left you with. These responses will set the table for our discussions in class, I may ask you to read or summarize what you wrote in your response as part of our class discussion. Responses should be typed in 12 pt. font and double-spaced. Responses will be graded as pass/fail. 

A passing response will:

·         Demonstrate that the student has read the material.

·         Do more than summarize, but also critique or analyze the reading material.

·         Use specific examples from the reading. 

Audio Assignments 30% total

To prepare you to produce a compelling piece of audio scholarship for your final project, you will complete three assignments asking you to experiment with both the tools and methods of audio scholarship.

Assignment 1 5%

            Assignment 2 10%

            Assignment 3 15%

Final Project 45%    

Your final project in this class will be a 10-15 minute piece of audio scholarship that focuses on applying theories of sacrifice to some cultural phenomenon past or present.

Grading Policy


A+       95-100%        C         70-74

A         90-94              D+       65-69

B+       85-89              D         60-64

B         80-84              D-        50-59

C+       75-79              F          below 50

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

Late Work

I do not accept late work. I do give extensions in the case of extraordinary circumstances, but I expect that you will ask for the extension promptly. Do not email asking for an extension unless it is under extreme circumstances outside of your control (like a relative died over the weekend and you need to leave immediately. See technology policy regarding technological “emergencies.”) I allow for make up exams in extraordinary circumstances and only with appropriate documentation that a student missed the exam for reasons outside of their control.

Technology policy

Let’s face it: technology breaks. Servers go down. Transfers time out. Files become corrupt. The list goes on and on. These are not considered emergencies. They are part of the normal production process. An issue you may have with technology is no excuse for late work. You need to protect yourself by managing your time and backing up your work.

Attendance Policy

You are expected to attend class. I will take attendance. Your attendance is expected unless there is an emergency outside of your control. You may miss up to 3 classes during the semester without penalty. Every missed class after 3 will result in a 2-point reduction of your final grade. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. If an issue arises that will cause you to miss a number of classes, please talk to me as soon as possible so we can work something out.

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Code of Academic Conduct provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.

Religious Observances

Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.

UAct Statement

The UAct website provides an overview of The University's expectations regarding respect and civility.