Following the impromptu writing assignment and
discussion (and any instructional business from the professor), class
will be guided by a pair or, depending on the size of the class, a trio
These class leaders must do the following:
1. Provide a list of "talking points" for the class, based on questions
and ideas that arise from the readings (NB: talking points may be
posted ahead of time on Sakai, or distributed in class).
Talking point contents:
These talking point should give the class a sense of where you want discussion to go.
They may be topics ("Abraham and failed masculinity") or questions ("How does Abraham function as a model of father/husband in the text?") or even provocative questions
("In some ways, isn't Sarah more sympathetic than Hagar?"). The talking
points may be formatted in any way you like, as long as they are easy
to follow. They may reference readings (from the Bible or other
readings), they may even focus on a single line or sentence.
Class leaders may also (certainly) decide to bring outside materials
into discuss--for instance, a particular engaging image or audio or
video clip. The readings must, however, be brought in to the discussion
at some point.
Using the talking points to lead class:
You may use these talking points to structure class (that is, move
through them one by one to focus discussion) or you may use them to
generate discussion among members of the class.
You may also use different talking points for different
class activities: impromptu debate, small group work, creative
assignment, reenactment, etc.
You may also decide to give the class a lot of talking points and ask the class to decide which ones merit discussion.
You should not use talking
points simply to ask yes/no questions ("Isn't Abraham is a jerk"):
observations, broad questions, and provocations open up discussions.
Yes/no questions tend to close off discussion.
2. Guide the class in a close reading of at least one biblical text, in light of the readings we have done for the class.
What is a "close reading"?
"Close reading" means moving line by line (or paragraph by paragraph)
through a biblical text, making observations/asking
questions/introducing provocations as we go. It is a kind of dialogue
between the reader and the text.
A group close reading led by students engages the entire class in this process, guided by the class leaders.
How does a "group close reading" work?
There are different ways to accomplish a guided close reading. You
might break the class up into groups and give each group particular
lines or passages and questions to go with them.
You might go around the room and have students read a line at a time,
pausing to ask questions/making observations/introduce provocations.
A successful group reading will: 1) focus our attention on the text; 2)
allow us to open up that text for a variety of discussions.
The text chosen for close reading should be a biblical text we have
read for class, but it might be any text of any length.
Class leaders are strongly encouraged to meet with the professor before leading class.
At the beginning of each class, students will be given a brief prompt
and we will, as a class, take 10 minutes to write notes, questions,
thoughts in response to that prompt. Students will then choose four of
those impromptu pieces of writing and develop them into fuller pieces
of writing, analyzing biblical passages from a variety of feminist
Short written assignments must be at least 500 words, but may be in any
format: analytic writing, creative writing, poetry. The only
requirement is a demonstration of thoughtful engagement with a biblical
text from a feminist perspective.
Written assignments may be turned in at any time through Sakai Dropbox and (once graded)
revised and resubmitted. All final written assignments are due on the
last day of class.
On the day of the final exam (December 14, by 5pm), students will turn
in a final project. Students may choose from among the following
options, and are
encouraged to come speak early in the semester with the professor to
choose one. You can find suggestions/ideas for final projects on the links & resources page (scroll down). You may also consider expanding one of your short responses into an extended format as described below.
final projects should be typed and double-spaced; there are no set
page/word limits but you may feel free to come discuss reasonable
assignment lengths based on your specific project with the professor.
Final projects should be turned in by the due date/time through Sakai
Dropbox, or via email to the professor. (Students completing
non-digitizable final projects should arrange a drop time with the
a. Exegesis paper.
"Exegesis" is a close, analytic, informed interpretation of a biblical
text. Academic exegesis usually entail reliance not only on your person
opinion as you read, but on outside research into language, history,
and contexts for a given passage. The goal of exegesis is not only to
executive an informed interpretation of a passage, but an informed
interpretation that can persuade readers to accept your interpretation of the text as valid.
We see many tools mobilized in our readings so far in this class that
attempt to create a persuasive, informed reading: historical context;
analysis of language; comparison with other texts; etc. A properly
executed exegesis paper will have a narrow focus (a single passage,
selection, narrative) and marshal these (and any other relevant) tools
to persuade an audience of a particular feminist interpretation.
b. Book review. There
have been many books of feminist biblical interpretation written since
the 1970s. In a final book review essay, you will summarize, analyze,
and evaluate the interpretations executed in one recent, scholarly
work. Your review should consider: what tools does this scholar use to
produce feminist interpretations? How does this author understand
"feminist"? What potential audiences will find the arguments in this
book "persuasive"? How do the strategies and goals of this book line up
with the kinds of analyses we have studied in class?
c. History of interpretation.
This project is similar to the exegesis project but instead of
producing your own interpretations, you will look at the history of how
particular passages (with possible feminist implications) have been
interpreted. It's up to you to decide what historical range you want to
focus on and whether you want to explore just explicitly feminist
interpretation, or a wide range of interpretations (feminist,
non-feminist, anti-feminist). Your goal is not to decide which
interpretations are "right," but rather explore the bounds of
interpretation. As you explore the history of a passage, ask: why are
some interpretations produced in particular times and places? What
changes with different interpretations: audiences? politics? goals?
When are certain interpretations allowable or desirable?
d. Creative project. You may choose to produce a creative project out of one or more biblical passages or stories, in the form of a midrash
(creative retelling) or other creatively framed approach to a passage
with feminist implications. Whatever the format of final design of your
creative project, it must be accompanied by a brief prose narrative
explaining the creative choices you made and addressing how your
project understands "feminist" and what kind of audience it might (or
might not) appeal to.
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