Bring a Goddess to a Party

Students were expected to have researched one goddess from the ancient Near East as described in several primary and secondary sources. The description of the activity on the syllabus is as follows: Choose a female deity or demon from the ancient Near East that you find captivating. Now imagine you have just invited her to a party at Smith College. Describe what she looks like and what she will wear to the party. How will you introduce her to your friends? Tell them where she is from, what her interest are, and explain her special talents, as well as any personality traits that might make for awkward social interactions.

They presented their projects to the class, introducing their female goddess to their peers in the imagined social situation of a party. They wrote up a brief "play" describing bringing the goddess to a party, then presented this play in front of class. In some cases, students produced drawings of the goddesses or dressed up as the goddess. 

The goal of the activity was to motivate students to research a goddess and get a good sense of her particular personality as presented in ancient texts. In a broader sense, the goal was to show students that deities were conceived as having distinct personalities in the ancient world, as opposed to modern conceptions of a vague, male God. The deity in the Bible as well is presented as having a particular sex and personality, which affects the way this deity has been perceived in later generations. Another goal is to show that, even in societies that featured female deities, these deities were not wholly "good" or "moral." This project is designed to give a voice to ancient goddesses and to nuance the way students conceive of the divine realm, in both ancient and modern times.

Attached is the syllabus for the class.

smith_syllabus.docx111 KB