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Polynesian Religions

Religion 492

Fall Semester 1996
Tuesday-Thursday 1:30 - 2:45 PM

Instructor: Professor John Charlot
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Department of Religion
Sakamaki A-307
Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822
Telephone: 956-6848

This class will emphasize individual research. Students will write a 10 to 15 page academic paper (plus bibliography) on an approved topic. This paper will be the basis for a class presentation.

Please note carefully the following deadlines:

by September 26, the topic must be approved.
by October 15, the outline and bibliography must be approved. November 14, the papers are due.


The following schedule is subject to change.

August 27 - 29: Introduction
Polynesian Cultures, Religions, Literature, Archeology, Course Requirements

K. Luomala: Voices on the Wind
J. Charlot: packet of articles on Polynesia

September 3 - 24: Samoa
People, Chiefs, the Origin of the Universe

G. Turner: Samoa a Hundred Years Ago and Long Before
"Nifoloa und Saumaeafe"
"O Sina ma lana Tuga"
"O le tala i le tupuga o Samoa" and "O le tupuga o le Eleele o Samoa ma tagata"
Kareda Henningsen: "Materials for the Study of the Chant 'O LE SOLO O LE VA O LE FOAFOAGA O LE LALOLAGI"
J. Fraser: "The Samoan Story of Creation. -- A 'Tala'"

September 26 - October 1: Tonga
P. Reiter: "Tongan Traditions"
E. E. Collocott: "A Tongan Theogony"
V. Moniz: "A Tongan Theogony"

October 3 - 15: The Society Islands
K. P. Emory: "The Tahitian Account of Creation by Mare"
T. Henry: from Ancient Tahiti

October 17: Midterm Examination, take-home, started in class and due at the beginning of class Tuesday, October 22. The examination will consist of the interpretation of a text.

October 22 - November 12: New Zealand
M. Ruatapu: The writings of Mohi Ruatapu
M. McLean and M. Orbell: from Traditional Songs of the Maori
L. Head: "The Gospel of Te Ua Haumene"
M. P. Shirres: Tapu: Te Mana o Nga Atua

November 14: Other Island Groups.

November 19 - December 10: Student Presentations

December 6: Concluding Discussion


20% for each question on the midterm examination
50% for the research paper and presentation
10% for class participation

Two unexcused absences will result in the loss of half a grade.

According to departmental policy, incompletes will be given only for extraordinary reasons, such as health problems.


Packets are available at the Copy Connection, Puck's Alley.

Packet 1: "Class Texts for Religion 492."

Packet 2: John Charlot: "Selected Articles on Polynesian Religions."

"Geometry and Life in Samoan Art" (reprinted from Samoa News), Volume XIV, Number 7, January 1980, pp 91 f.

"Aspects of Samoan Literature I: The Structure of the Samoan Single Story Form and Its Uses," Anthropos, Volume 85, 1990, pp 415–430.

"Aspects of Samoan Literature II: Genealogies, Multigenerational Complexes, and Texts on the Origin of the Universe," Anthropos, Volume 86, 1991, pp 127–150.

"Aspects of Samoan Literature III: Texts on Historical Subjects and Bodies of Literature," Anthropos, Volume 87, 1992, pp 33–48.

"Some Uses of Chant in Samoan Prose," Journal of American Folklore, Volume 101, Number 401, July–September, 1988, pp 302–311.

"The War between the Gods of 'Upolu and Savai'i: A Samoan Story from 1890, "The Journal of Pacific History, Volume 23, Number 1, April 1988, pp 80–95.

"Four Society Islands Creation Texts," Journal de la Societe des Oceanistes, Volume XLI, Number 81, December, 1985, pp 169–184 (numerous typographical errors).

"Some Recent Publications of Maori Texts," Pacific Studies, Volume 18, Number 2, June 1995, pp 139–149.

"The Influence of Polynesian Literature and Thought on Robert Louis Stevenson," The Journal of Intercultural Studies, Number 14, 1987, pp 82–106.

"Towards a Dialogue Between Christianity and Polynesian Religions," Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, Revue Canadienne/A Canadian Journal, Volume 15, Number 4, 1986, pp 443–450.

Katharine Luomala: Voices on the Wind: Polynesian Myths and Chants.

George Turner: Samoa a Hundred Years Ago and Long Before.

Mohi Ruatapu, 1993. Nga Korero a Mohi Ruatapu tohuna rongonui o Ngati Porou: The writings of Mohi Ruatapu (translated, edited and annotated by Anaru Reedy). Christchurch: Canterbury University Press. (To be bought in class.)

Michael P. Shirres: Tapu: Te Mana o Nga Atua 'The Mana of the Spiritual Powers': A Maori Theological Understanding of Tapu. (To be bought in class.)


[Subject: Religion; Polynesia]

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