Course Schedule

Note: Readings with an asterisk (*) are housed in PDF form on the Sakai website, and may be accessed through the "resources" section or through the main course website. All other readings are either in print or available directly from the web (live links on course website). Links in red go directly to readings hosted on Sakai (if you are not already logged in, you will be asked to do so); links in blue are freely available on the web.

Prologue: Meeting Religion

Jan 17 (T): Introductions

Jan 19 (R): Where is religion?

* Jonathan Z. Smith, “Religion, Religions, Religious”
* David Chidester, Authentic Fakes, 11-29

Jan 24 (T): Is “religion” even a thing?
* Russell McCutcheon, “Religion, Ire, and Dangerous Things,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 2004:173-93
* Robert Segal, “The Function of ‘Religion’ and ‘Myth’: A Response to Russell McCutcheon,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 2005:209-13
* Russell McCutcheon, “Theorizing ‘Religion’: Rejoinder to Robert Segal,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 2005:215-17

Part I: Origins

Jan 26 (R): Enlightenment
Strenski, Thinking About Religion, 1-22

Jan 31 (T): Society
Strenski, Thinking About Religion, 195-222

Feb 2 (R): Psychology (I)
William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, Lecture I & II (ed. for web by  Leroy L. Miller)

Feb 7 (T): Psychology (II)
Freud, Totem and Taboo
Strenski, Thinking About Religion, 155-65 (optional: 166-76)

Feb 9 (R): Magic savages
Strenski, Thinking About Religion, 65-82, 97-114

Feb 14 (T): Sacred Experience
Strenski, Thinking About Religion, 115-34

Part II: Approaches

Feb 16 (R): Phenomenology
Strenski, Thinking About Religion, 223-47
* Jonathan Z. Smith, "The Wobbling Pivot"

Feb 21 (T): Economy (I)
Karl Marx, "Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right" (1843)
Karl Marx, "On the Jewish Question" (1844)
Frederick Engels, "Bruno Bauer and Early Christianity" (1882)

Response essay #1 by 2pm to Sakai Dropbox

Feb 23 (R): Economy (II)
Strenski, Thinking About Religion, 135-54

Feb 28 (T): Culture
* Geertz, "Religion as a Cultural System"

Mar 2 (R): Responding to Culture
* Asad, "Genealogies of Religion"

Mar 7 (T): Ritual
* Bell, Ritual, 1-22
* Bell, Ritual Theory, 197-223


Mar 9 (R): Lived Religion (I)
Covintgon, Salvation on Sand Mountain, chs. 1-6

Mar 14-16: No class (spring break)

Mar 21 (T): Lived Religion (II)
Covintgon, Salvation on Sand Mountain, chs. 7-11 & afterword
* Orsi, "Snakes Alive: Resituating the Moral in the Study of Religion"

Part III: Identities

Mar 23 (R): Feminism
* Daly, Gyn/Ecology (excerpt)
* Daly, Beyond God the Father (excerpt)
* Anne-Marie Korte, "Openings: A Genealogical Introduction to Religion and Gender," Religion and Gender 1.1 (2011): 1-17

Mar 28 (T): Race
* Lincoln, "The Racial Factor in the Shaping of Religion in America"
* McAlister, "The Madonna of 115th Street Revisited: Vodou and Haitian Catholicism in the Age of Transnationalism"
Response essay #2 due by 2pm to Sakai Dropbox

Mar 30 (R): Feminism and Race
* Ada Marai Isasi-Diaz, Mujerista Theology (excerpts)
* Nyasha Junior, An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation, ch. 4

Apr 4 (T): The postcolonial
* Chidester, Savage Systems (excerpt)

Apr 6 (R): Feminism and the postcolonial
* Lara Deeb, An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi‘i Lebanon (excerpt)

Apr 1 (T): Mama Lola (I)
McCarthy Brown, Mama Lola, Foreword, Prefaces, Introduction, chs. 1-3

Apr 13 (R): Mama Lola (II)
McCarthy Brown, Mama Lola, chs. 4-8

Apr 18 (T): Mama Lola (III)
McCarthy Brown, Mama Lola, chs. 9-12, Afterword

Apr 20 (R): Atheism
Brian Davies, "The New Atheism: Its Virtues and Vices," The New Blackfriars 92 (2010): 18-34
Gary Wolf, "The Church of the Non-Believers," Wired 14.11 (November 2006)

Apr 25 (T): Queer(ing) religions
* Mark Jordan, “Religion Trouble,” GLQ 2007:536-75
* Melissa M. Wilcox, "Outlaws or In-Laws? Queer Theory, LGBT Studies, and Religious Studies," Journal of Homosexuality 52 (2006): 73-100

Apr 27 (R): Debate: It is useful to study religion.

May 2 (T): Last day of class
Response essay #3 due by 2pm to Sakai Dropbox

Final papers and debate write-up due to Sakai Dropbox by Tuesday, May 9, by 5pm

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