Burke Rochford

Professor of Religion

 Mondays 1:45-3:45; and Thursdays 1:15-2:15 (Hesselgrave House)
 Hesselgrave House 101

Professor Rochford teaches courses in contemporary American religious movements and communities. His research over the past 25 years has focused on the Hare Krishna movement. He is author of Hare Krishna in America and numerous articles addressing the development of the Krishna movement. Professor Rochford has been at Middlebury College since 1986.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE1391 - Cults and Violence      

Cults and Violence
It is often assumed that religious cults are prone to violence since many seek to transform society into an idealized state based on their theology. Yet history suggests that cultic groups are more often the targets of violence or that they peacefully await the millennial kingdom. In this seminar we will consider a range of factors that produce cultic violence. We will examine such cases as violence and anti-Mormonism in 19th-century America; the collective suicide of 900 Peoples Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978; the 1993 assault by the American government on the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas; and apocalyptic violence by the Japanese group Aum Shinrikyo. 3 hrs. sem. CW NOR SOC

Spring 2013

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RELI0170 / HIST0170 / HIST0228 - Religion in America      

Religion in America
America often has been defined paradoxically as both the "most religious" and "least religious" of nations. This course, a historical survey of American religious life, will trace the unique story of American religion from colonial times to the present. Guiding our exploration will be the ideas of "contact," "conflict," and "combination." Along the way, we will examine the varieties of religious experiences and traditions that have shaped and been shaped by American culture such as, Native American traditions, Puritan life and thought, evangelicalism, immigration, African-American religious experience, women's movements, and the on-going challenges of religious diversity. Readings include sermons, essays, diaries and fiction, as well as secondary source material. 2 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. HIS NOR PHL

Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

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RELI0208 / SOAN0208 - Sociology of American Religion      

The Sociology of American Religion AR
The course focuses on classical and contemporary issues in the sociology of religion. We begin with definitional debates about what religion is and the strengths and limitations of a social science of religion. We then consider issues of religious commitment and conversion; the changing role and influence of religion in contemporary society (i.e., secularization theory); change in religious communities; American religious history; women, family, and religious life; and the emergence of new religious movements. Throughout the course we read ethnographic and historical studies of various religious organizations and communities (e.g., American Protestantism, the Amish, Catholicism, Hare Krishna, Shakers, Oneida, Mormons). 3 hrs. lect./disc. NOR PHL SOC

Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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RELI0303 / SOAN0303 - Cults and New Religions      

Cults and New Religions
Religious outsiders have been persistent yet controversial. Mystics and messiahs preaching a variety of radical beliefs and ways of life have provoked strong responses from mainline traditions as well as from publics concerned about the "cult" menace. Yet new religions have also been a source of religious experimentation and revival. In this course we will explore the unique characteristics of new religions, the historical circumstances that give rise to them, who join and why, the societal reaction they generate, questions of authority and leadership, violence, and the factors that influence their success, decline and failure. A variety of new religions from North America and the West, as well as from Japan and China, will be considered. These may include the Shakers, the People's Temple, Hare Krishna, Soka Gakkai, the Children of God/Family, Solar Temple, Aum Shinrikyo, Falun Gong, the Branch Davidians, and the Raelians. 3 hrs sem. CMP PHL SOC

Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

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RELI0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
(Approval Required)

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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RELI0700 - Senior Project in Religion      

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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RELI0701 - Senior Thesis in Religion      

Senior Research for Honors Candidates
Approval required

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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RELI1032 - Islam in America      

Islam in America
Islam has a long history in America. However, beginning in the 1960s, large numbers of Muslims from across the globe began relocating to America after restrictive immigration laws eased. Today, Islam is reportedly America’s fastest growing religion. In this course we will consider the faith and teachings of Islam, Islam in the African American community, immigrant Muslim communities in the United States, issues of cultural and religious identity, Muslim women in America, and the ways that second generation Muslims are reshaping Islam in the American context. Throughout the course, our focus will be on the making of an American Islam. CMP HIS NOR PHL WTR

Winter 2014

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Department of Religion

Munroe Hall
427 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753