Ritual

Alongside description of a number of specific rites, this volume explores ritual from both theoretical and historical perspectives.

Ritual

Ritual is part of what it means to be human. Like sports, music, and drama, ritual defines and enriches culture, putting those who practice it in touch with sources of value and meaning larger than themselves. Ritual is unavoidable, yet it holds a place in modern life that is decidedly ambiguous. What is ritual? What does it do? Is it useful? What are the various kinds of ritual? Is ritual tradition bound and conservative or innovative and transformational? Alongside description of a number of specific rites, this Very Short Introduction explores ritual from both theoretical and historical perspectives. Barry Stephenson focuses on the places where ritual touches everyday life: in politics and power; moments of transformation in the life cycle; as performance and embodiment. He also discusses the boundaries of ritual, and how and why certain behaviors have been studied as ritual while others have not. Stephenson shows how ritual is an important vehicle for group and identity formation; how it generates and transmits beliefs and values; how it can be used to exploit and oppress; and how it has served as a touchstone for thinking about cultural origins and historical change. Encompassing the breadth and depth of modern ritual studies, Barry Stephenson's Very Short Introduction also develops a narrative of ritual's place in social and cultural life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Freemasonry a Very Short Introduction

Andreas Önnerfors sorts the facts from the colourful fictions surrounding this organization and outlines how the organization works, its rituals and symbols, its values, and the work it does in modern society.

Freemasonry  a Very Short Introduction

Freemasonry is one of the oldest and most widespread voluntary organizations in the world. Over the course of three centuries men (and women) have organized themselves socially and voluntarily under its name. With a strong sense of liberation, moral enlightenment, cosmopolitan openness and forward-looking philanthropy, freemasonry has attracted some of the sharpest minds in history and has created a strong platform for nascent civil societies across the globe. With the secrecy of internally communicated knowledge, the clandestine character of organization, and the enactment of rituals and the elaborate use of symbols, freemasonry has also opened up feelings of distrust, as well as allegations of secretiveness and conspiracy. This Very Short Introduction introduces the inner activities of freemasonry, and the rituals, symbols and practices. Looking at the development of the organizational structure of masonry from the local to the global level, Andreas Onnerfors considers perceptions of freemasonry from the outside world, and navigates through the prevalent fictions and conspiracy theories. He also discusses how freemasonry has from its outset struggled with issues of exclusion based upon gender, race and religion, despite promoting tolerant openness and inclusion. Finally Onnerfors shines a light on the rarely discussed but highly compelling history of female agency in Masonic and Para-Masonic orders. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Myth

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Myth

This title introduces a wide array of approaches to understanding myth from varied disciplines. It uses the famous ancient myth of Adonis to analyse the ideas and individual approaches and theories of theorists such as Sigmund Freud, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Albert Camus, and Roland Barthes. This new edition considers the interactions of myth theory with cognitive science, the implications of the myth of Gaia, and the differences between story-telling and myth, as well as the future study of myth.

Confucianism A Very Short Introduction

Proper ritual practice allows man to give expression to his emotions without risk
of disrupting the social order. ... him: “Rituals trim what is too long and stretch out
what is too short, eliminate excess and remedy deficiency, extend the forms of ...

Confucianism  A Very Short Introduction

To understand China, it is essential to understand Confucianism. First formulated in the sixth century BCE, the teachings of Confucius would come to dominate Chinese society, politics, economics, and ethics. In this Very Short Introduction, Daniel K. Gardner explores the major philosophical ideas of the Confucian tradition, showing their profound impact on state ideology and imperial government, the civil service examination system, domestic life, and social relations over the course of twenty-six centuries. Gardner focuses on two of the Sage's most crucial philosophical problems-what makes for a good person, and what constitutes good government-and demonstrates the enduring significance of these questions today. This volume shows the influence of the Sage's teachings over the course of Chinese history--on state ideology, the civil service examination system, imperial government, the family, and social relations--and the fate of Confucianism in China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as China developed alongside a modernizing West and Japan. Some Chinese intellectuals attempted to reform the Confucian tradition to address new needs; others argued for jettisoning it altogether in favor of Western ideas and technology; still others condemned it angrily, arguing that Confucius and his legacy were responsible for China's feudal, ''backward'' conditions in the twentieth century and launching campaigns to eradicate its influences. Yet Chinese continue to turn to the teachings of Confucianism for guidance in their daily lives. In addition to a survey of the philosophy and history of Confucianism, Gardner offers an examination of the resurgence of Confucianism in China today, and explores what such a revival means for the Chinese government and the Chinese people. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.

Alexander the Great A Very Short Introduction

It seems likely that, either after Alexander had entered Babylon against advice, or
while he was waiting to enter the city, another ritual was performed to protect him
from ill fate. This was the 'substitute king ritual', which is known from Assyrian ...

Alexander the Great  A Very Short Introduction

Alexander the Great became king of Macedon in 336 BC, when he was only 20 years old, and died at the age of 32, twelve years later. During his reign he conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire, the largest empire that had ever existed, leading his army from Greece to Pakistan, and from the Libyan desert to the steppes of Central Asia. His meteoric career, as leader of an alliance of Greek cities, Pharaoh of Egypt, and King of Persia, had a profound effect on the world he moved through. Even in his lifetime his achievements became legendary and in the centuries that following his story was told and retold throughout Europe and the East. Greek became the language of power in the Eastern Mediterranean and much of the Near East, as powerful Macedonian dynasts carved up Alexander's empire into kingdoms of their own, underlaying the flourishing Hellenistic civilization that emerged after his death. But what do we really know about Alexander? In this Very Short Introduction, Hugh Bowden goes behind the usual historical accounts of Alexander's life and career. Instead, he focuses on the evidence from Alexander's own time — letters from officials in Afghanistan, Babylonian diaries, records from Egyptian temples — to try and understand how Alexander appeared to those who encountered him. In doing so he also demonstrates the profound influence the legends of his life have had on our historical understanding and the controversy they continue to generate worldwide. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Myth A Very Short Introduction

explanation of what is presently happening in the ritual, just not of how the ritual
arose. Myth is like the sound in a film or the narration of a pantomime. Writes
Hooke: 'In general the spoken part of a ritual consists of a description of what is ...

Myth  A Very Short Introduction

This book is not about myths, but about approaches to myth, from all of the major disciplines, including science, religion, philosophy, literature, and psychology. The fate of the preternaturally beautiful Adonis is one of the main fables upon which Segal focuses, in an attempt to analyse the various different theories of myth. Where the theory does not work, he substitutes another myth, showing that, for all their claims to all-inclusiveness, certain theories, in fact, only apply to specific kinds of myths. A uniform set of questions is provided, to elucidate both the strengths and the weaknesses of the conjectures. A survey of the past 300 years of theorizing on myth, this book takes into account the work of such prominent thinkers as Albert Camus, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, C. G. Jung, and Sigmund Freud. Finally, Segal considers the future study of myth, and the possible function of myth in the world as the adult equivalent of play. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Devil A Very Short Introduction

Today he remains a potent image in popular culture. The Devil: A Very Short Introduction presents an introduction to the Christian Devil through the history of ideas and the lives of real people.

The Devil  A Very Short Introduction

The Devil has fascinated writers and theologians since the time of the New Testament, and inspired many dramatic and haunting works of art. Today he remains a potent image in popular culture. The Devil: A Very Short Introduction presents an introduction to the Christian Devil through the history of ideas and the lives of real people.

African Religions

For example, the book moves beyond ethnographic descriptions and interpretations of core beliefs and practices to look at how African religion has engaged issues of socioeconomic development and power relations.Sources for this book include ...

African Religions

What are African religions? African Religions: A Very Short Introduction answers this question by examining primarily indigenous religious traditions on the African continent. It focuses on the diversity of people, ethnic groups, languages, cultures, ethos, and worldviews, keeping in mind the continent's regional diversity. Using a multidisciplinary methodological approach, Olupona examines a wide range of African religious traditions on their own terms as well as in their pluralistic social, cultural, and political contexts. Cultural and postcolonial interpretive frameworks benefit the discussion. For example, the book moves beyond ethnographic descriptions and interpretations of core beliefs and practices to look at how African religion has engaged issues of socioeconomic development and power relations. Sources for this book include archaeological and historical references. Additionally, Olupona uses ethnographic materials based on fieldwork collected through interviewsand participant observation, along with archival materials, including missionary records, which describe African religious practices. Though the emphasis is on native faith traditions, these are not static traditions. African religions have responded to changes within their local communities and to fluxes caused by outside influences. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects - from Islam to Sociology,Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative - yet always balanced and complete - discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.

Blood

Chris Cooper gets to the heart of this fascinating topic, covering the basic biology of blood, and the role of blood transfusions, blood tests, and the treatment of blood-borne diseases in modern medicine.

Blood

Le rabat de la couverture indique : Blood is a vital fluid with a profound cultural and historical significance. Long considered the essence of life, blood pumps through our language and religion, and is a major diagnostic tool in the doctor's armoury. This Very Short Introduction explores early views of blood, our modern understanding of its nature and components, and future possibilities, such as artificial blood. Chris Cooper gets to the heart of this fascinating topic, covering the basic biology of blood, and the role of blood transfusions, blood tests, and the treatment of blood-borne diseases in modern medicine.

Tibetan Buddhism A Very Short Introduction

What does Tibetan Buddhism teach?

Tibetan Buddhism  A Very Short Introduction

What does Tibetan Buddhism teach? Just what is the position of the Dalai Lama, and how will his succession be assured? This Very Short Introduction offers a brief account responding to these questions and more, in terms that are easily accessible to those who are curious to learn the most essential features of Tibetan Buddhist history, teachings, and practice.

The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages (c.500-1500) includes a thousand years of European history. In this Very Short Introduction Miri Rubin tells the story of the times through the people and their lifestyles.

The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages (c.500-1500) includes a thousand years of European history. In this Very Short Introduction Miri Rubin tells the story of the times through the people and their lifestyles. Including stories of kingship and Christian salvation, agriculture and trade, Rubin demonstrates the remarkable nature and legacy of the Middle Ages.

Hinduism

But how is Hinduism defined, and what basis does the religion have? This work gives concise insights into the central preoccupations of Hinduism.

Hinduism

Hinduism is practised by nearly eighty per cent of India's population, and by some seventy million people outside India. In this Very Short Introduction, Kim Knott offers a succinct and authoritative overview of this major religion, and analyses the challenges facing it in the twenty-first century. She discusses key preoccupations of Hinduism such as the centrality of the Veda as religious texts, the role of Brahmins, gurus, and storytellers in the transmission of divine truths, and the cultural and moral importance of epics such as the Ramayana. In this second edition Knott considers the impact of changes in technology and the flourishing of social media on Hinduism, and looks at the presence of Hinduism in popular culture, considering pieces such as Sita Sings the Blues. She also analyses recent developments in India, and the impact issues such as Hindu nationalism and the politicization of Hinduism have on Hindus worldwide. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Egyptian Myth A Very Short Introduction

Was royal ritual also its origin, or was the myth usurped by royalty to suit their
own purposes? When asking which comes first, the myth or the ritual, each case
has to be judged on its own merits. Often existing rituals, such as funerary rites, ...

Egyptian Myth  A Very Short Introduction

The complex world of Egyptian myth is clearly illuminated in this fascinating new approach to ancient Egypt. Geraldine Pinch explores the cultural and historical background behind a wide variety of sources and objects, from Cleopatra's Needle and Tutankhamun's golden statue, to a story on papyrus of the gods misbehaving. What did they mean, and how have they been interpreted? The reader is taken on an exciting journey through the distant past, and shown how myths of deities such as Isis and Osiris influenced contemporary culture and have become part of our cultural heritage. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Theatre

Theatre is one of the longest-standing art forms of modern civilization.

Theatre

Theatre is one of the longest-standing art forms of modern civilization. Taking a global look at how various forms of theatre - including puppetry, dance, and mime - have been interpreted and enjoyed, this Very Short Introduction explores all aspects of the theatre, including its relationship with religion, literature, and its value worldwide.

Social and Cultural Anthropology A Very Short Introduction

This book on social and cultural anthropology combines an account of the discipline's guiding principles and methodology with examples of anthropologists at work.

Social and Cultural Anthropology  A Very Short Introduction

"If you want to know what anthropology is, look at what anthropologists do," write the authors of Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction. This engaging overview of the field combines an accessible account of some of the discipline's guiding principles and methodology with abundant examples and illustrations of anthropologists at work. Peter Just and John Monaghan begin by discussing anthropology's most important contributions to modern thought: its investigation of culture as a distinctively human characteristic, its doctrine of cultural relativism, and its methodology of fieldwork and ethnography. Drawing on examples from their own fieldwork in Indonesia and Mesoamerica, they examine specific ways in which social and cultural anthropology have advanced our understanding of human society and culture. Including an assessment of anthropology's present position, and a look forward to its likely future, Social and Cultural Anthropology will make fascinating reading for anyone curious about this social science. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

Ancient Egypt A Very Short Introduction

Our analysis of the scenes and texts on objects such as the Narmer Palette and
mace-head is generally complicated by our modern urge to be able to distinguish
between 'real' events and rituals. But the ancient Egyptians show very little ...

Ancient Egypt  A Very Short Introduction

The ancient Egyptians are an enduring source of fascination - mummies and pyramids, curses and rituals have captured the imagination of generations. We all have a mental picture of ancient Egypt, but is it the right one? How much do we really know about this great civilization? In this absorbing introduction, Ian Shaw describes how our current ideas about Egypt are based not only on the thrilling discoveries made by early Egyptologists but also on fascinating new kinds of evidence produced by modern scientific and linguistic analyses. He also explores the changing influences on our responses to these finds, through such media as literature, cinema and contemporary art. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of ancient Egypt, from despotic pharaohs to dismembered bodies, and from hieroglyphs to animal-headed gods. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Paganism A Very Short Introduction

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Paganism  A Very Short Introduction

'Paganism' is an evocative word that, even today, conjures up deep-seated emotions and prejudices. Until recently, it was primarily a derogatory term used by Christians to describe the non-Christian cultures confronted and vanquished by their Churches. For some it evokes images of sacrifice and barbaric behaviour, while for others it symbolises a peace-loving, nature-worshipping spiritual relationship with the earth. This Very Short Introduction explores the meaning of paganism - through a chronological overview of the attitudes towards its practices and beliefs - from the ancient world through to the present day. Owen Davies largely looks at paganism through the eyes of the Christian world, and how, over the centuries, notions and representations of its nature were shaped by religious conflict, power struggles, colonialism, and scholarship. Despite the expansion of Christianity and Islam, Pagan cultures continue to exist around the world, whilst in the West new formations of paganism constitute one of the fastest-growing religions. Focussing on paganism in Europe, but exploring the nature of paganism globally, Davies looks at how Europeans discovered new cultures through colonial expansion, missionary work, and anthropological study. Contemporary social paganism can be a liberating and social force, and the idea of a global Pagan theology is now on the religious map. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Buddhism A Very Short Introduction

The practical and ritual dimension The practical or ritual dimension is less
pronounced in Buddhism than in faiths of a strongly sacramental kind, such as
Judaism and Orthodox Christianity. Buddhist monks have no priestly role—they
are not ...

Buddhism  A Very Short Introduction

Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction introduces the reader to the teachings of the Buddha and to the workings of Buddhism in daily life. Damien Keown looks at the distinctive features of Buddhism, examining who the Buddha was and what his teachings were. By considering how Buddhist thought has developed over the centuries, Keown considers how contemporary dilemmas can be faced from a Buddhist perspective. In this new edition Keown provides new perspectives on Buddhist thought, including up-to-date material about the evolution of Buddhism throughout Asia, the material culture of Buddhism and its importance, new teachings on the ethics of war and peace, and changes to ethnicity, class, and gender. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Old Testament A Very Short Introduction

The author offers an exploration of the 'Old Testament', illuminating its importance as history, literature, and sacred text.

The Old Testament  A Very Short Introduction

This Very Short Introduction provides a short, accessible overview for general readers interested in learning more about the Old Testament and its interpretation. Coogan explores the significance of the history and literature of the Old Testament and describes how non-biblical evidence, such as archaeological data and texts, has illuminated the Old Testament in a larger context. Coogan discusses law in the Bible, particularly the Ten Commandments and the biblical understandings of prophecy, myth, exodus, death, and afterlife. Finally, Coogan discusses the enduring significance of the Old Testament.

Rastafari A Very Short Introduction

Rastafari has grown into an international socio-religious movement, with adherents of Rastafari found in most of the major population centres and outposts of the world.

Rastafari  A Very Short Introduction

Rastafari has grown into an international socio-religious movement, with adherents of Rastafari found in most of the major population centres and outposts of the world. This Very Short Introduction provides a brief account of this widespread but often poorly understood movement, looking at its history, central principles, and practices.