Regarding the rites of others: an analysis of responses to the serpent-handling sects

Cossitt, Robyn (2020) Regarding the rites of others: an analysis of responses to the serpent-handling sects. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Serpent-handling sects are a subsect of the Church of God and Holiness Movements of Pentecostalism. These sects are famous for their “bizarre” serpent-handling ritual, which has drawn significant attention from scholars, legislators and media organizations. Societies define themselves through comparison with others. In order to underscore the power of the modern, secular American culture, the serpent-handlers have been constructed as an “internal other” that represents the antithesis of the majority culture’s values, beliefs, and practices. This thesis explores the othering process of serpent-handlers through sensationalist and primitivist narratives perpetuated by early academics, state legislation, newspapers, magazines, and television. The narratives constructed about the serpent-handling sects mark the boundaries of normative culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15047
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 153-160).
Keywords: Ritual Studies, Serpent-handling, Religious Studies, Secularism, Discourse Analysis
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: November 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Snake cults (Holiness churches)--Public opinion.

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