Posted at March 9, 2004 04:54 PM in .
I'm looking at pursuing an MA in either Religious Studies, History or
Anthropology, depending on how things work out. Probably either of the
first two. I have a BA in Cultural Anthropology from 1993.
to leverage my personal interests and/or understanding so I don't have
to research an entirely new field unless it is some outgrowth of my
current intellectual interests. Because of this, I have five main
potential and overarching areas of interest:
- Neopaganism in the last few decades, specifically in North America.
- Western Esotercism since the Renaissance, specifically English speaking (unless I want to work on my Russian).
- Secret Societies/Fraternal Orders, either the "occult" or more strictly Masonic style.
- Tantric Buddhism and the West
- Fringe religious movements in North America within the last 200 years or so...
From this list, I did a really
rough brainstorming of potential high-level thesis ideas. None of these
are concrete to the point of being "What question with this thesis
answer?" which is where one would want to be before I started work.
- Neopagan History in North America
Pacific Northwest Neopaganism: it's early days, founding members, early or influential groups.
Bay Area Paganism in the 1970s: this was a heyday for the Neopagan movement.
Dianic Wicca: A man writing about a Womyn
centric faith. Hmm...I could lose my balls but my mother is a Dianic.
Possible issues of bias with my own Wiccan background.
- Fraternal or Occult Orders in North America
Find a specific and obscure occult order and disect its writings, ritual work, organizational structure, etc.
-- I know these are out there. I was a member of one and have a set of
materials that match the kind of thing that I'd want to work on but
because of obvious issues with bias, personal history, oaths to
members, etc. I wouldn't use that one. There have been many others. One
back before the last World War or in the 50s would be ideal. The goal
here would also have to take into account treating people and beliefs
Scholastic Examination of one of the many 19th Century Masonic Style orders: similar to the idea above except this would not touch on Esotericism as much.
- "Fringe" Religious Movements
Investigation of Noble Drew Ali and the "Moors":
This is the prophet and group that was the grandfather of the Nation of
Islam, among others. Given the fact that I am European American and
these people were African American and also given the modern
descendents, I could run into racial barriers.
Role of non-African People in African Diasporic Religions: Lots of European descended people seem to be getting involved with Santeria or Voudon. How's that work out?
Obscure Utopian Religious Cults:
There have been a number of groups that I personally know about in the
Pacific Northwest, some of which still survive: The Love Israel Family,
the Venusian Church... There's probably an angle here for Religious
Liber Al and "Received" Texts: Liber Al vel
Legis is the sacred text of Thelemites, the "followers" of Aleister
Crowley. This text was "received" or "channeled" by Crowley in 1904.
There are many other similarly received texts within 20th century
occultism along the same lines (often inspired by Liber Al). I am
convinced there is something interesting that could be done with this
as a religious or spiritual phenomena within Religious Studies.
- Tantric Buddhism in the West
- No specific ideas here but it is an interest of mine as a practitioner and an intellectual student of Vajryana and Dzogchen.
am open and interested in any comments on these ideas be they
criticisms, ideas related to them, potentials in these ideas, other
ideas that they bring to mind, etc. I'm asking my friends to help me
brainstorm on thesis ideas.
Once I know for sure what I want to
spend two years of academic work on for a thesis, I can find a
professor to mentor me. The program I'm going to work with allows me to
find a willing PhD in my field of interest to act as a mentor but I
need to know what I'm studying first.
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