The Nature of Nature in Religion
Final Research Paper Due Friday, May 20th
Your research paper should be based on relevant course readings and additional readings that you collected as part of your bibliography assignment earlier in the semester. Your paper should do two things:
(1) It should perform close readings of its chosen sources to make an argument about the nature of nature in its chosen religious tradition. Potential questions you could address include: Is the tradition’s view of nature enchanted? How? Does it participate in key secular, western dichotomies (nature/culture; immanence/transcendence; human/divine, etc.) or does it challenge or reconfigure them? How does the tradition create and sustain connections between humans and others (Kinship? Personhood? Fetishism? Ritual (dance, psychoactive substances, drumming, trance states, etc)? Gift economies? Creatureship)? This is the type of thinking we have done throughout the semester – looking carefully at religious practices, beliefs, and rituals in order to discern how they facilitate connection with the natural world and how they conceptualize the natural world in relation to the human one (in many cases this means rejecting the human/nature framework).
(2) It should suggest some possible implications of the conceptualization of Nature in its chosen sources. For example, if the paper has investigated the veneration of trees in early Buddhism, it should speculate a bit about the possible ways in which tree veneration might contribute to environmentalist causes and movements – that is, ways that the tradition’s connections with and conceptualizations of nature might motivate people to act to sustain the natural world and protect it from further destruction.
Together, these two parts of your paper should be represented in your thesis statement.
The paper should be ten double spaced pages minimum. Most of your paper should focus on part (1). If for example your paper is ten pages long, eight pages should be devoted to part (1) and two pages should be devoted to part (2).
You must include a bibliography/works cited page in MLA style as described here:
Citations in the paper should follow MLA parenthetical format rules as described here:
Be sure you cite specific sources and examples as you build your argument. To be sure that you don’t accidentally plagiarize something, see this plagiarism tutorial:
If you violate the precepts of academic integrity, you will receive an F for the plagiarized assignment and/or an F for the course. All instances of plagiarism will result in your name will be forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Students.
The link to upload your final papers to Turnitin is in “Course Documents” folder on Blackboard. The link is titled “Final Research Paper.”
Papers are due on Turnitin on Blackboard on Friday, May 20th. After this date, each additional day results in a 1/3 reduction in your paper grade. I will not accept any papers after May 25th.

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