Magic and Religions


    General Information

    Professor Information

    Professor Photo
    Erin Weston
    (305) 348-1329
    DM 322B
    by appointment
    Please use Blackboard Messages

    Course Description And Purpose

    This course will examine the role of magic, witchcraft, and the supernatural in various religious and cultural contexts from around the world. Students will analyze magical beliefs, practices, and symbols and the role they play in various global religious traditions. This course will employ interdisciplinary methods with an emphasis on anthropology, and various religious/magical practices and beliefs will be viewed from both etic and emic perspectives. While this course will look at a variety of source cultures, it will also emphasize the interaction of religious beliefs and practices with global concerns in the world today.

    Course Objectives & Student Learning Outcomes

    Students will be able to:

    • Outline and describe your understanding of the role of magic, witchcraft, and the supernatural in various religions and cultural contexts.
    • Identify and summarize key theories on why magic has sustained itself despite shifts in science and technology.
    • Distinguish between various magical practices, techniques, and symbols in a variety of cultural contexts.
    • Compare and contrast magical practices from both etic and emic perspectives.
    • Articulate one's own beliefs about the existence of magic and the supernatural in the contemporary world.

    Global Learning Course Outcomes

    Students will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of the interrelatedness of beliefs and practices regarding magic, witchcraft and the supernatural in a variety of cultural contexts.
    • Construct a multi-perspective analysis of a topic related to magic and religion.
    • Demonstrate a willingness to engage in an ongoing dialogue about current global concerns in order to address problems arising from the interaction between global concerns and local religious beliefs and practices.

    Important Information


    Please review the FIU's Policies webpage. The policies webpage contains essential information regarding guidelines relevant to all courses at FIU, as well as additional information about acceptable netiquette for online courses.

    Technical Requirements & Skills

    One of the greatest barriers to taking an online course is a lack of basic computer literacy. By computer literacy we mean being able to manage and organize computer files efficiently, and learning to use your computer's operating system and software quickly and easily. Keep in mind that this is not a computer literacy course; but students enrolled in online courses are expected to have moderate proficiency using a computer. Please go to the "What's Required" webpage to find out more information on this subject.

    Please visit our Technical Requirements webpage for additional information.

    Accessibility And Accommodation

    Please visit our ADA Compliance webpage for information about accessibility involving the tools used in this course.

    Please visit Blackboard's Commitment Accessibility webpage for more information. 

    For additional assistance please contact FIU's Disability Resource Center.

    Course Prerequisites

    There are no prerequisites for this course.

    Proctored Exam Policy

    Please note that the information contained in this section applies only if your course requires a proctored exam.

    Through a careful examination of this syllabus, it is the student’s responsibility to determine whether this online course requires proctored exams. Please visit our Student Proctored Exam Instructions webpage for important information concerning proctored exams, proctoring centers, and important forms.


    Textbook Image
    Magic Witchcraft and Religion: A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion
    Pamela Moro, James Myers
    McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 09/27/2012
    ISBN-10: 0078034949
    ISBN-13: 9780078034947
    Book Info. You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore.
    Textbook Image
    The Anthropology of Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft
    Rebecca L. Stein, Philip L. Stein
    Prentice Hall, 2011
    ISBN-10: 0205718116
    ISBN-13: 9780205718115
    Book Info. You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore.

    Expectations Of This Course

    This is an online course, which means most (if not all) of the course work will be conducted online. Expectations for performance in an online course are the same for a traditional course. In fact, online courses require a degree of self-motivation, self-discipline, and technology skills which can make these courses more demanding for some students.

    Students are expected to:

    • Review the how to get started information located in the course content
    • Introduce yourself to the class during the first week by posting a self introduction video in the appropriate blog
    • Take the practice quiz to ensure that your computer is compatible with Blackboard
    • Interact online with instructor/s and peers
    • Review and follow the course calendar
    • Log in to the course at least 3 times per week.

    The instructor will:

    • Log in to the course at least 5 times per week
    • Respond to discussion boards, blogs and journal postings within 3 days or sooner
    • Respond to [emails/messages] within 3 days or sooner
    • Grade assignments within 2 weeks or sooner of the assignment deadline

    Course Detail

    Course Communication

    Communication in this course will take place via Messages

    Messages is a private and secure text-based communication system which occurs within a course among its Course members. Users must log on to Blackboard to send, receive, or read messages. The Messages tool is located on the Course Menu, on the left side of the course webpage. It is recommended that students check their messages routinely to ensure up-to-date communication. 

    Visit our Writing Resources webpage for more information on professional writing and technical communication skills.

    Structure Of The Course

    This course is divided into an introduction section and ten lessons. Each of the ten lessons consists of a PowerPoint Lecture, Readings, Videos, and a Quiz. There will also be online discussions, either live or in writing, as well as private journaling. After Lessons 5 and 10, there will be two non-cumulative exams based on the questions covered in the quizzes. Finally, there is a capstone paper, where you will have to the opportunity to showcase your favorite theories that you learned over the course of the semester.

    You should set aside approximately 6-8 hours per week to study materials, view lectures, finish readings, participate in discussions and prepare for quizzes/exams.

    By having many small assignments, you are able to interact with the ideas presented throughout the semester in multiple ways. This course utilizes multiple mediums to present the material, with the understanding that all students learn in slightly different ways. The goal is that by using multiple methodologies ALL students will have enhanced learning.  

    All assessments and assignments in this course are conducted fully online and, unless otherwise noted in your syllabus, are due on the Monday of a given week at noon.

    Course Blogs

    Blogs are an open communications tool for students to share their thoughts. Here you can post text, images, links and attachments, open for comments.

    1.  Within the lesson 1 folder you will find information on how to upload a video to YouTube and how to upload a video through Video Everywhere into the Introduce Yourself blog.  Students will upload all course videos to their personal YouTube channel and then into the assignment's particular blog due date noted in course schedule of this syllabus:

    • Introduce Yourself Video Blog

    2.  Blogs can be found in the Blog portion of the course menu or within the content area of the course.

    • There will be three course blog topics. The topics will be posted on "Course Blogs" folder in the Course Content. Students must post well thought-out comments based on the required work throughout the semester. Participation is required and represents 15% of your final grade. Both the quantity and the quality of your posts will contribute to your grade. All students are required to participate in all the three topics (at least 200 words). Blogs must be posted during the period they are assigned and are due by 11:59 pm on the Monday which ends that particular lesson.
    • Once you have composed your original posting, take some time to carefully review other postings within your discussion group. Pick two that are most interesting to you and provide meaningful, detailed, and constructive feedback.
    • Keep in mind that your course blog postings will likely be seen by other members of the course. Care should be taken when determining what to post.


    There will be weekly journal reflections, which will only be seen by the student and the professor. These reflections will only be graded that they were completed, but not for content. This will provide an opportunity for students to interact privately with the professor in regards to the course content. Journals may be a short paragraph, but must be turned in on time to receive credit. Altogether, the journal entries will be worth 5% of your overall grade.


    There will be fully online quizzes covering each section. Your quiz scores will be averaged together for a final quiz score worth 20% of your final grade. All quizzes consist of 20 multiple-choice questions, and each question will be worth 5 points. A quiz will be available from Monday 12:00 am till Monday 12:00 noon of the given week. Once you open a quiz, you will have 30 minutes to complete and submit it. You will have two attempts to take a quiz. The highest score will be counted. 

    In order to mitigate any issues with your computer and online assessments, it is very important that you take the "Practice Quiz" from each computer you will be using to take your graded quizzes and exams. It is your responsibility to make sure your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements.

    Assessments in this course are not compatible with mobile devices and should not be taken through a mobile phone or a tablet. If you need further assistance please contact FIU Online Support Services.


    There will be two non-cumulative exams based on the readings and materials covered throughout the course. Each exam will be worth 20% of your final grade. All exams consist of multiple choice, fill in the blanks and true/false questions, and each question will be worth 2 points. Exams will be available for three days from 12:00am to 11:59pm. Once you open an exam, you will have 60 minutes to complete and submit it. 

    In order to mitigate any issues with your computer and online assessments, it is very important that you take the "Practice Quiz" from each computer you will be using to take your graded quizzes and exams. It is your responsibility to make sure your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements.

    Assessments in this course are not compatible with mobile devices and should not be taken through a mobile phone or a tablet. If you need further assistance please contact FIU Online Support Services.

    Capstone Essay

    There will be one essay assigned throughout the semester, which is aimed at assisting in the comprehension and synthesis of the concepts presented throughout the course. This assignment is specifically related to your Global Learning engagement outcome that you will demonstrate an ability to engage critically with diverse forms of religion in local, regional, national and international contexts.

    This essay will be at least 1500-2000 words long (6 pages double-spaced) and will be worth 20% of your grade. This is a formal academic essay and students must cite their sources. MLA is the preferred citation style in Religious Studies. 

    Submission: Students must submit their essays to via Blackboard's Assignment Dropbox

    This assignment requires three separate submissions in order to receive full credit for this assignment.

    1. The first requires you to submit your complete paper to the “Essay on Magic - Initial Submission” in the Turnitin Assignment Dropbox so that your paper can be sent your classmates for Review.  It is imperative that you submit this assignment on-time, since if you do not you will be unable to complete the second portion of this three part assignment.
    2. In the second portion of this assignment you must access the “Capstone Essay on Magic - Peer Review Assignment” link in the Turnitin Assignment Dropbox area of the course.  You will be directed to review three of your classmate’s papers.  In order to receive full credit for this portion of the activity you must answer all questions presented to you for each paper.
    3. Lastly, you will evaluate your reviewed paper and make any necessary edits to it.  You will then submit your final version to the “Capstone Essay on Magic - Final Submission” link in the Turnitin Assignment Dropbox area of the course.

    Late Papers: Late papers are only accepted under extreme and verifiable conditions. 

    Students are responsible for reading their blackboard messages and all announcements posted by the instructor. The instructor also reserves the right to make changes to the syllabus by means of announcements or messages with ample time allowed for students to respond and adjust appropriately.

    Plagiarism: Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plagiarism, or attempting to pass off another's work as your own, falls into three different categories:

    1. A written work that is entirely stolen from another source;
    2. Using quotations from another source without properly citing them; and
    3. Paraphrasing from another source without proper citations.

    Students are expected to understand the definition of plagiarism. See the University Code of Academic Integrity at if you need further clarification. Offenders will receive a grade of F for the plagiarized assignment, and possibly the course.

    You will need to do research; your textbook and required readings will not have enough information about the topic. You will need to consult a minimum of three outside sources and one must be a book reference. You will also need notes in your paper, and a Bibliography/Works Cited page in MLA style. 

    Do not use Wikipedia as an internet source. You may use internet sources, but use only academic sources from the internet. (Academic sources list individual authors, name their sources, and have institutional affiliations.) Points will be deducted for infractions of these rules.

    If you have questions regarding how to cite or what to cite, ask me BEFORE you submit your essay. If you turn in your paper and you "accidentally" plagiarize parts of your essay, you will fail the assignment and possibly the course. Better safe than sorry! To reiterate, ask me before the due date if you are unsure about how to cite your sources.

    **Students may not submit work from a previous semester or from another class for this assignment or any other assignment in this course. It will be flagged for plagiarism by Turnitin.

    Review the detailed Turnitin Instructions on how to submit your assignments and how to review the Grademark comments (feedback) from your professor.

    Course Requirements

    In addition to the completion of writing assignments, discussions, quizzes, and exams, a key requirement for successful completion of this course will be an open mind. Students are expected to exhibit respect to all religious traditions and peoples at all times. Thus, disrespectful or derisive commentary will not be tolerated in this course. Religion is, after all, a very personal and sensitive subject for many.

    On the other hand, class participants can expect academic freedom to express their views. Although religion can be personal, this is an academic course taken for college credit and thus students are expected to examine the topics rigorously. Religion shall not be exempt from the scrutiny placed on any and all academic subjects.

    Protocol For Technical Issues

    If you have any technical problems,

    1) Contact tech support to file a report, and
    2) Contact me by email to let me know what is going on.

    If you are having technical problems and an assignment is due,

    1) E-mail me a copy of the assignment, so it is on time, and
    2) Contact tech support.

    Student Support Offers Assistance in the form of: 

    E-mail & Live Chat Support
    Phone Support
    Office Support (On Campus)
    7 days a week 8am - midnight
    7 days a week 8am - midnight 
    Telephone: 305-348-3630 
    Toll-Free: 1-877-3-ELEARN
    Monday - Friday from 8am - 10pm 
    Modesto A. Maidique Campus
    MANGO Building, 5th Floor 


    Course Requirements Number of Items Weight
    Midterm Exam 1 20%
    Final Exam 1 20%
    Quizzes 10 20%
    Essay (5% Initial Submission/5% Peer Review/10% Final Paper) 3 20%
    Blogs (Including Introduce Yourself Video Assignment) 4 15%
    Journal Entries 6 5%
    Total  25 Graded Assignments 100%
    Letter Range Letter Range Letter Range
    A Above 93 B- 80 - 82 D+ 67 - 69
    A- 90 - 92 C+ 77 - 79 D 63 - 66
    B+ 87 - 89 C 73- 76 D- 60 - 62
    B 83 - 86 C- 70 - 72 F < 59

    Course Calendar

    Weekly Schedule

    Assessments and assignments in this course are conducted fully online and, unless otherwise noted in your syllabus, are due on the Monday of a given week at noon.

    Date Tasks

    May  16 - May 23

     Course Introduction

    • Review and fully familiarize yourself with the course and site.
    • Print and read the course syllabus and course calendar.

    Tasks Due:

    1. Obtain texts and read ahead for Lesson 1
    2. Student Introduction Video Blog


    Lesson 1/Lesson 2
    May 16 - May 23

    The Anthropological Study of Religion

    • PowerPoints: The Anthropological Study of Religion
    • Read Chapter 1 – Stein & Stein
    • Read Chapter 1 - Moro
    • Videos: "Culture Clash New World Meets Old: The Hunt for Society" (4:46) & "How to Study    Cultures" (24:14)

    ‚ÄčMythology, Symbolism and Worldview

    • PowerPoints: Mythology & Religious Symbols
    • Read Chapters 2 & 3 – Stein & Stein
    • Read Chapter 2 – Moro
    • Read Deming Religious Symbolism PDF
    • Videos: "Sketches of the World: In The Search of the Light"(26:12) &"Scrabble Creek" (5:39) & "Sketches of the World: The Winds of Mystery" (27:18)

    Tasks Due:

    1. Journal 1 Due
    2. Lesson 1 Quiz 
    3. Course Blog #1 
    4. Lesson 2 Quiz 
    May 23rd 


    Lesson 3/ Lesson 4
    May 23 - May 30


    • PowerPoint:  Rituals
    • Read Chapter 4 – Stein & Stein
    • Read Chapter 3 - Moro
    • Videos: "Peruvian Blood", “Santeria Ritual"

    Religious Specialists

    • PowerPoint: Religious Specialists
    • Read Chapter 6 - Stein & Stein
    • Read Chapter 4 - Moro
    • Videos: “Korean Shaman Kut " (14:48), "Becky Fisher"

    Tasks Due:

    1. Lesson 3 Quiz
    2. Lesson 4 Quiz
    3. Journal 2 Due
    May 31st 
    Lesson 5
    May 30 - June 6


    Altered States of Consciousness

    • PowerPoint: Altered States of Consciousness
    • Read Chapter 5 – Stein & Stein
    •  Read Chapter 5 - Moro
    • Videos: "San Pedro Ceremony" (6:42) & "Possession" (1:55),"Phuket Pain Rituals" "Alex &Allyson Grey" (video 1 & 2)

    Tasks Due:

    1. Lesson 5 Quiz 
    2. Course Blog #2
    3. Journal 3 Due
    4. Midterm Exam: Monday, May 30, 2016 - Monday, June 6, 2016 by 11:59 pm
    5. Submit Capstone Essay on Magic - First Submission


    June 6th 

    Lesson 6/7
    June 6 - June 13

    Illness, Healing, and Religion

    • PowerPoint:  Illness, Healing, and Religion
    • Read Chapter 6 – Moro
    • Read: “The Origins and Functions of Religious Healing,” “Magic in Everyday Life” Culture Specific Diseases
    • Videos: “Native American Healers,” & “Brazilian Healing”

    Witchcraft, Sorcery, Divination, and Magic

    • PowerPoints: Magic & Divination, Witchcraft
    • Read Chapter 7 & 10 – Stein & Stein
    • Read Chapter 7 - Moro
    • Videos: “Mexican Witchcraft,” “Divination,” “Wicca,” “Zimbabwean Magic.”

    Tasks Due:

    1. Capstone Essay on Magic - Peermark Review Due
    2. Lesson 6 Quiz 
    3. Lesson 7 Quiz 
    4. Journal 4 Due
    June 13th 

    Lesson 8/9
    June 13 - June 20

    Death, Ancestors, Ghosts, and Souls

    • PowerPoint: Death, Ancestors, Ghosts, & Souls
    • Read Chapter 8 – Stein & Stein
    • Read Chapter 8 - Moro
    • Videos: “Mystic Lands Haiti: Dance of the Spirit” (25:00) & "Aghoris" (3:13)

    Gods and Spirits

    • PowerPoint: Gods & Spirits
    • Read Chapter 9 – Stein & Stein
    • Videos: "Ethiopian Healing” & “Indian Exorcism" and “Venezuelan Umbanda”

    Tasks Due:

    1. Lesson 8 Quiz 
    2. Lesson 9 Quiz 
    3. Course Blog #3 Due
    4. Journal 5 Due
    5. Capstone Paper Due - Final Draft
    June 20th 

    Lesson 10
    June 20 - June 25

    Religion in a Changing World

    • PowerPoint: The Search for New Meaning
    • Read Chapter 11 – Stein & Stein
    • Read Chapter 9 - Moro
    • Videos: “Circumcision" (1:58) & "XTC - Rave Culture" (14:47)

    Tasks Due:

    1. Lesson 10 Quiz 
    2. Journal 6 Due
    3. Final Exam: Monday, June 20th, 2016 – Saturday, June 25th, 2016.
    June 25th