Religion of the Pharaohs, Spring 2016

University of the Pacific
Caroline T. Schroeder ("Dr. S")
T/Th 1-2:45, WPC 219

You can find Dr. S at…

cschroeder [at]
WPC 101
Office Hours T 3-4 pm, Th 9-10 am, by appt.
On Twitter (@ctschroeder)
On Facebook

About the Course

The past century has witnessed a fascination with all things ancient Egyptian. From the earliest version of the film, "The Mummy" to the traveling art exhibit of the treasures of Tutankhamen's tomb (twice!) to the millennium party at the pyramids, the previous hundred years was marked by an obsession with ancient Egyptian religion and culture. This course will examine the religious beliefs and practices of ancient Egyptians and the portrayal of ancient Egypt in popular culture. Specific topics to be studied include: Egyptian royal and social history; Egyptian language and literature; mythology and cosmology; death and the afterlife; temple rituals and architecture; pyramids, tombs and other burial architecture; the intersection of religion with ethnicity, gender, social class, and political power; narratives of the Hebrew Exodus; colonialism and the modern “discovery” of ancient Egypt; and ancient Egypt in film and popular culture.

Fulfills General Education Requirement I-C Global Studies
Fulfills the University Diversity Requirement   

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. identify and explain the significance of the most prominent elements, concepts, and figures in ancient Egyptian religion, history and culture
2. read and interpret basic ancient Egyptian primary sources in translation
3. articulate their analysis and interpretation of ancient sources about ancient Egyptian religion through in writing and orally
4. articulate, in both written and oral forms, their understanding of the intersection of religion with notions of difference (including ethnicity, gender, social class, and political power) in ancient Egypt as well as their own developing understanding of social difference and its impact on the disciplines of Egyptology and Religious Studies
5. demonstrate a satisfactory understanding of how ancient Egyptian social institutions and individuals responded to difference and diversity (with respect to religion, ethnicity, gender, national identity) as well as social inequality (with respect to social status, gender, national identity), and whether those issues are relevant for contemporary American society
6. analyze and explain some of the ways in which popular vehicles of modern culture use (or misuse) conceptions of ancient religion to work through contemporary social and cultural issues

Required Books and Other Media

The following required textbooks are available at the Bookstore. The readings are required for class discussion, quizzes, and writing assignments, so I strongly urge students to buy copies if at all possible.

  1. William Kelley Simpson, The Literature of Ancient Egypt
  2. Marc Van De Mieroop, A History of Ancient Egypt
  3. Emily Teeter, Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt
  4. Kara Cooney, The Woman Who Would Be King
  5. Elizabeth Peters, Crocodile on the Sandbank

Required readings and art will also be available on websites and on the course Canvas site. See the links on the syllabus.

Several required films will be assigned during the semester, as well. Deliberative and concentrated viewings of the films are mandatory.

Most of the textbooks will beon Reserve at the Circulation Desk in the Library.

Course Requirements

Note: Copies of student work may be retained to assess how the learning objectives of the course are being met.

Attendance & Participation

Since we will all be members of a learning community this semester, diligent preparation and enthusiastic class participation are essential. Daily assignments should be completed before class on the day on which they are listed on the syllabus.

Class participation is an integral part of this course. All students are expected to participate in a thoughtful, well-prepared manner that is grounded in the course assignments. Students should come to class prepared to discuss the assignments every day. I will provide study guides to help you with the readings and class discussions.

All members of the class are expected to reflect critically on they ways in which they can contribute to constructive rather than destructive class dynamics. I often call upon students and may not wait for students to volunteer themselves.

Take notes: you will be expected to incorporate issues raised in class discussions and in your writing assignments. See the beginning of the course schedule for tips on preparing for class.

The Attendance and Participation Grade will include:

• Possible in-class presentations, graded activities, or providing discussion questions for class.

• Regular participation in class, which means:

✓ Informed, thoughtful, and respectful engagement in discussions, activities, and in-class writing assignments on a regular basis
✓ Listening to the professor and the other students (including taking notes)
✓ Bringing class readings and/or notes to class to enable discussion
✓ Respectful behavior in class. Disruptive or disrespectful behavior (including arriving late and leaving early) will lower Participation and Attendance grades.
✓ Daily attendance.

Daily attendance is essential for learning in this course. Every absence beyond three absences may lower the participation and attendance grade by up to one-third of a letter level (A to B, B+ to C+, etc.) There are no excused/unexcused absences; you have three. Come to class unless you are truly ill. Athletes and other students with with official university commitments that may cause them to miss more than three classes should contact me at the beginning of the semester. Likewise students with extended illnesses that may cause them to miss more than three classes should contact me immediately.
• Lying to avoid a penalty is a violation of the Honor Code
• Make friends: Students who miss class should get notes from a peer before coming to talk to the professor about missed material.


Brief quizzes on the course materials will be distributed on Canvas every day we have assigned readings/websites/films. Students will be allowed to take each quiz more than once. (Quizzes close before class begins.) Quizzes cannot be made up and cannot be excused. The lowest three quiz grades will be dropped before calculating the final grade

Student Blog

Each student will set up a personal website with a blog.

Blog Posts

Students will compose four blog posts on their blogs. I will circulate prompts ahead of time, and the posts will be based on class material (no outside research).

  1. 750-1000 words on religion in the Old and Middle Kingdoms
  2. 750-1000 words on religion in the New Kingdom
  3. 500 words on the course field trip
  4. 500-750 words on ancient Egyptian religion in modern popular culture

Due dates are on the course schedule schedule lists three deadlines for most blog posts:

Deadline A: item submitted will receive a grade and comments, which will be returned to you by the Deadline B date. Students may revise and repost by Deadline C for grade replacement.

Deadline B: item submitted will receive a grade and comments, but cannot be revised for this assignment. Comments will probably be useful for your next one, though.

Deadline C: item submitted will receive only a grade.

Discussion Facilitation

In pairs, each student will lead class discussion once during the semester.  The goals for the discussion will be to facilitate a deeper understanding of the readings and to enable participation by all students in the class.  More instructions will be provided during the first few weeks of class.

The Discussion Facilitation will be graded on an excellent/satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. An excellent assessment will increase your overall Attendance and Participation grade; an unsatisfactory one will lower it.

Field Trip

We will have a field trip to the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose. This trip is required for the course.

Grading & Evaluation

General rubric and criteria for grading in the course

A Reserved for excellence. The assignment, paper, exam, class participation, etc., demonstrates all the qualities of a B and demonstrates originality or complexity in thinking.

B Assignments, exams, and papers fulfill all the requirements of the assignment and demonstrate strong competency in the course material. Essay exams and papers also demonstrate critical, analytical thinking about the material in the course, and provide a clear argument and thesis (where required) with documentation. (Essays and papers are neither simple summaries of the readings/films/etc. nor personal reflection ungrounded in the course material.)
Typed assignments are well proof-read, with clear prose and accurate grammar.
Participation and Reading Responses demonstrate preparation and critical thinking about the material. For class participation, students provide quality questions and comments AND listen and respond where appropriate to the professor and fellow students.

C Assignments, exams, papers, participation, and Reading Responses demonstrate preparation and competency in the course material but are deficient in one of the key elements of B quality assignments, etc.

D Shows little competency in the subject or is missing more than one key element of B quality assignments, etc.

F Demonstrates little to no competency in the subject matter and/or is missing several elements of B quality assignments, etc.

See specific course assignments for more information on the evaluation of each assignment.

Policy on Make-ups, Extensions, and Late Assignments

Blog posts other assignments submitted late will be penalized one letter grade per 24-hour period late. (E.g., an “A” quality paper that was due Wednesday in class but was submitted on Thursday at 9 am will receive an B; if submitted at 5 pm Thursday, it will receive a C.)
Students who miss an in-class exam or other graded in-class assignment will receive a zero.
Extensions on assignments and rescheduling in-class presentations/discussion facilitations will be provided only in emergencies (e.g., death in the immediate family, severe illness, etc.) or unavoidable conflicts with another required university commitment (such as an athletic competition) with advance notice. Students with an emergency should contact the professor to make alternative arrangements immediately.

Percentage to Letter Grade Conversion

93-100 A
90-92.9 A-
87-89.9 B+
83-86.9 B
80-82.9 B-
77-79.9 C+
73-76.9 C
70-72.9 C-
67-69.9 D+
60-66.9 D
0-59.9 F

Final Course Grades

Quality class participation and attendance 17.5%
Reading Quizzes 12.5%
Set up blog 7.5%
OK/MK blog post 17.5%
NK blog post 17.5%
Field Trip Blog Post 12.5%
Popular Culture Blog Post 15%

Academic Integrity

Dr. S on cheating and the honor code

I take academic integrity very seriously. As your professor, I pledge to be honest with you, and I hope that you will do the same for me as well as your peers.

Students are expected to understand and follow the University’s Honor Code. For this course, academic dishonesty includes any violations covered by the Honor Code (including but not limited to cheating, plagiarism, and lying to receive a higher grade), as well as submitting one’s own prior work for a new assignment—prior work from this course or another course, and prior work in whole or in part. (Specifically assigned revisions to writing assignments are exempt.) We will discuss plagiarism and citations in class. I encourage any student with questions about academic integrity, plagiarism, or the Honor Code to ask me for clarifications.

Any alleged or suspected violations will be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs. All students who violate the Honor Code will receive a minimum penalty of a zero for the assignment or exam; a serious violation will merit failure of the course.

Please visit for tips on avoiding plagiarism and more information on my expectations for academic integrity.

What the University has to say about the Honor Code

The Honor Code at the University of the Pacific calls upon each student to exhibit a high degree of maturity, responsibility, and personal integrity. Students are expected to:

• act honestly in all matters
• actively encourage academic integrity
• discourage any form of cheating or dishonesty by others
• inform the instructor and appropriate university administrator if she or he has a reasonable and good faith belief and substantial evidence that a violation of the Academic Honesty Policy has occurred.

Violations will be referred to and investigated by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. If a student is found responsible, it will be documented as part of her or his permanent academic record. A student may receive a range of penalties, including failure of an assignment, failure of the course, suspension, or dismissal from the University. The Academic Honesty Policy is located in Tiger Lore and online at

Our Inclusive Classroom

We have a diverse classroom with students from many places who identify with a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. We profess myriad religious traditions and in many of us profess none. This class is a space to explore material that will challenge all of us (including me!) in different ways.

It is important to me that this class becomes an inclusive environment in which our diverse community can learn and grow.

  • I understand this material will challenge you intellectually and possibly personally. I am committed to working with you on these challenges.
  • This class is not a place in which to try to convince each other to hold our own religious beliefs.
  • Knowing and applying the names and pronouns that students wish to use is a crucial part of developing a productive learning environment that fosters safety, inclusion, personal dignity, and a sense of belonging across campus. We will discuss preferred names and pronouns at the beginning of the semester. You may also let me know your preferred name and pronoun anytime throughout the semester.
  • Derogatory comments based on race, gender, religion, ability, and sexual orientation prevent us all from learning from the material and from each other. They have no place in our learning community.
  • Students come to Pacific with a wide range of learning abilities, and I am committed to working with everyone to succeed.

If you are a student with a disability who requires accommodations, please contact the Director of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) for information on how to obtain an Accommodations Request Letter. To ensure timeliness of services, please obtain the accommodation letter(s) from the Office of SSD at the very beginning of the semester. Depending on course and session, the wait time may be as long as 1-2 weeks or as short as 1-2 days. After I receive the accommodation letter, please schedule a meeting with me during office hours or some other mutually convenient time to arrange the accommodation(s). The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities is located in the McCaffrey Center, Rm. 137. Phone: 209-946-3221. Email: Online: Pacific’s 3-Step Accommodation Process: 1. Student meets with the SSD Director and provides documentation and completes registration forms. 2. Student requests accommodation(s) each semester by completing the Request for Accommodations Form. 3. Student arranges to meet with his/her professors to discuss the accommodation(s) and to sign the Accommodation Request Letter


The most important resources for the course (also available on the drop-down menu under Resources on the course site) are:

I strongly caution against using non-academic websites to find background information.