Faculty Research on Ritual Gone Wrong

Ritual Gone WrongCongratulations to Dr. Kathryn McClymond, Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, on the publication of her new book Ritual Gone Wrong: What We Learn from Ritual Disruption (Oxford University Press).

From the publisher:

 The discipline of religious studies has historically tended to focus on discrete ritual mistakes occurring in the context of individual performances as outlined in ethnographic or sociological studies; scholars have largely overlooked the extensive discussions of ritual mistakes that exist in the religious literature of indigenous traditions. And yet ritual mistakes (ranging from the simple to the complex) happen all the time, and they continue to carry ritual “weight,” even when no one seriously doubts their impact on the efficacy of a ritual.

In Ritual Gone Wrong, Kathryn McClymond approaches ritual mistakes as an integral part of ritual life and argues that religious traditions can accommodate mistakes and are often prepared for them. McClymond shows that many traditions even incorporate the regular occurrence of errors into their ritual systems, developing a substantial literature on how rituals can be disrupted, how these disruptions can be addressed, and when disruptions have gone too far. Offering a series of case studies ranging from ancient India to modern day Iraq, and from medieval allegations of child sacrifice to contemporary Olympic ceremonies, McClymond explores the numerous ways in which ritual can go wrong, and demonstrates that the ritual is by nature fluid, supple, and dynamic-simultaneously adapting to socio-cultural conditions and, in some cases, shaping them.

Other recent publications by Dr. McClymond include:

McClymond, Kathryn. Beyond Sacred Violence: A Comparative Study of Sacrifice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

McClymond, Kathryn. “The Chosen: Defining American Jewish Identity.” In Chaim Potok: Confronting Modernity through the Lens of Tradition, edited by Daniel Walden, 3-19. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013.

McClymond, Kathryn.  “Violence and Sacrifice.” In The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence, edited by Andrew R. Murphy, 320-330. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2011.

McClymond, Kathryn. “Don’t Cry Over Spilled Blood: Ritual Correction in the Mishnah.” In Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice, edited by Zsuzsa Varhelyi and Jennifer Knust, 235-250. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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Atlanta Studies Symposium, May 11th in Centennial Hall

The 4th Annual Atlanta Studies Symposium will be held on May 11th on the campus of Georgia State University.  This interdisciplinary meeting of scholars will take place in Centennial Hall from 8:15 am to 7:00 pm.  We hope to see you there!

Register for the symposium on the Atlanta Studies site

Download the 2016 symposium program


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Service Interruptions This Week During Scheduled Server Maintenance

The back of a set of serversThis week the library will be performing scheduled server maintenance which will interrupt several of our web-based services. Please plan ahead to reduce the impact on your research:

Wednesday May 4th, from 7:00AM to 10:00AM
Impacted Services: Library Blog, Online Exhibits, Mobile Website, Research Guides, and some parts of Digital Collections

Thursday May 5th, from 7:00AM to 10:00AM
Impacted Services: EZproxy (off-campus authentication to research databases), E-Reserves, some parts of Research Guides, and some parts of Digital Collections

Friday May 6th, from 7:00AM to 10:00AM
Impacted Services: Digital Collections

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience that this may cause, and thank you for your patience as we perform this important work.

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Webinar: Searching by Variable in ICPSR

Looking for a data to analyze that contains a specific question asked in a survey, aka a specific “variable”?

Check out this webinar, “What’s in There? Searching by Variable at ICPSR,” on Tuesday, June 14 at Noon – register here!

This webinar will demonstrate strategies for searching more than 4.5 million variable descriptions in ICPSR‘s Social Science Variables Database, including the new crosswalk between the American National Election Study (ANES) Series and the General Social Survey Series.

The ICPSR Website allows users to search for variables singly or in groups. The “Compare Variables” feature brings up question text, frequencies, universe and other information, and all searches are linked to ICPSR’s dynamic online codebooks.

ICPSR logo

Don’t have time for the webinar but want to explore searching by variables in ICPSR on your own? Go to the ICPSR database, click on the “Find & Analyze Data” heading in the purple button, then click “Search/Compare Variables” in the purple banner.

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Library Security Enhancements Update

As we reach the end of the semester, I would like to give a brief update on security enhancements at the Atlanta campus library. Security personnel continue to visually check each ID before students, faculty, and staff pass through the turnstiles to enter the library. We also continue to have a visible police presence. The software platform for our security cameras has been upgraded, and our cameras are now being recorded by the GSU Police. We have a number of changes planned for the months ahead:

  • Over the summer we will upgrade the existing camera hardware and add nearly 100 new cameras.
  • We have ordered a visitor management system to better keep track of library guests. This system will be installed this summer, and once it is in place we can return to our normal visitor access policies.
  • We are currently working with architects and campus partners on a redesign of the entrances to both Library North and Library South. The key changes will be better workspace and visibility for security personnel; new, modern swinging glass gates in place of the old turnstiles; and biometric fingerprint scanners in place of card swipes. The biometric scanners, like those already in use in the dining halls, are being implemented to avoid some of the abuses possible with ID cards (use of a lost card, sharing of cards, etc.). We hope to have the new gates in place by the start of the fall semester. However, it is possible that the complexity of this project will result in a completion date during the fall term. We will provide updates on this blog as the schedule is finalized.

Our top priority is that the GSU Library remains a great learning environment. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns.

Jeff Steely (jsteely@gsu.edu)
Dean of Libraries

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April 27 – 3D Atlanta meets Oculus Rift on Library North


A street scene from virtual 3D Atlanta from the 1920s, not far from where the University Library now stands on Decatur Street.

Join Student Innovation Fellows as they demo the 3D Atlanta project on Wednesday, April 27, Library North 1st floor, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Learn about this exciting project and even experience it for the first time on an Oculus Rift headset.  This is a free, drop-in event. No RSVP is required.

About 3D Atlanta

Georgia State University sits atop what was once the center of Atlanta’s African American night life, a rich assemblage of blues and ragtime clubs and even the old city jail. Today, Student Innovation Fellows are working to recreate this lost piece of Atlanta’s history in an interactive 3D environment. The 3D Atlanta project uses GSU’s rich collection of historic photographs and 3D scans of surviving buildings to recreate the old red light district at scale in a virtual environment. The resulting experience is an interactive game, accessed via Oculus Rift, which will eventually provide an immersive, full-scale model of Atlanta’s history.

Combining historical recreation and archival research with video gaming and 3D modeling, the project is a unique digital initiative bringing together students in computer science, urban planning, and the humanities. The completed project will include historically based narratives and a full-scale virtual reproduction of this historic Atlanta area.

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May 3 – Tableau and 21st Century Digital Learning Presentation

tableauData visualization takes concepts and patterns and interactively changes what data is seen and how it’s processed. Tableau and 21st Century Digital Learning explores concepts of data visualization across several majors and disciplines.

Join us for this special presentation in CURVE from undergraduate student Charbel Aoun, University Assistant in the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning. His recent article, “Using Tableau as a Data Visualization Tool to Explore Recurring Cancer Trends” was published in the 2015 Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences.

Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Time: 12:00 noon – 2:00 p.m.
Location: CURVE, Library South 2nd Floor
This is a free event. No RSVP is required.

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Why is Shakespeare Still Relevant?

Hw-shakespeareSaturday, April 23rd, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.  Born in Stratford upon Avon to John Shakespeare, an alderman and glove maker, and Mary Arden Shakespeare, William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564.  There is no official record for the date of his birth, but it is likely that he was born only a few days before his baptism.

Shakespeare has been variously called The Bard, The National Poet of England, and The Greatest Playwright of the English Language.  The publication of the first folio, Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, in 1623, ensured wider access to his plays as texts, performances outside of London (reaching a wider audience), and burgeoning scholarship.  More than 400 years later, his plays are still performed somewhere in the world nearly every day and have been adapted for film, ballet, opera, musical theater, and novels.  Additionally, he is credited with coining several thousand words still in use today.

When I asked my 14 year old daughter, a budding thespian, why she thought Shakespeare was still relevant she said, “His plays were for the people.  They focus on emotions and situations that regular people would have recognized.  Once you get used to the language, you see that that is still true.”  Emotions and situations such as family conflict, ambition, jealousy, misunderstanding, love, and romance; Shakespeare touched on all of these.

Source:  Shakespeare, William. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/25200?docPos=1

Books on Shakespeare and His Works by GSU Faculty:

To Find Works by and about Shakespeare:

Search the library catalog for:

  • shakespeare, william and limit to author
  • shakespeare, william and limit to subject
  • search by specific titles of plays and limit to title

To Find Film Adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays:

Search the library catalog for:

  • specific titles of films
  • shakespeare and video


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In Memoriam: Prince

More sad news out of the music world today: Prince has died at age 57. Prince was a prolific musician, releasing more than 30 albums over the course of his career. He had been touring the U.S.; he played two shows at the Fox Theater here in Atlanta just last week.

To learn more about Prince and his music, check out the following:

Purple Rain–the iconic 1984 movie starring Prince and his retinue (including Appolonia and Morris Day & The Time)
Video DVD PN1997 .P875 2004 / Library North 1

Plasse, Marie. “‘Joy In Repetition’? Prince’s Graffiti Bridge And Sign ‘O’ The Times As Sequels To Purple Rain.” Journal Of Popular Culture 30.3 (1996): 57-65.  Full text here.

Prince: Inside the Music & the Masks
ML420.P974 R67 2011 / Library North 4

Prince: The Making of a Pop Music Phenomenon
ML420.P974 H39 2011 / Library North 4

The Words & Music of Prince
ML420.P974 P47 2008 / Library North 4

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Atlanta Campus to Shift PR Call Numbers, April 15-27

14-0070 Library StockThe University Library Atlanta Campus Stacks Maintenance Unit will be shifting books in the PR call number range to accommodate new titles added to the collection.

The unit will shift part of the PR collection from the 4th floor of Library North to the 3rd floor of Library North. The shift will begin on Friday, April 15th and will be completed by Wednesday, April 27th. Temporary signage will be available to assist users looking for books in the PR section.


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