Who Owns Religion

Who Owns Religion? Controversies in the Study of Religion and Being a Public Intellectual
This course is a study in public scholarship in the humanities--focused on the study of religion but relevant to other humanistic disciplines. Its primary text will be the work: Who Owns Religion? Scholars and Their Publics in the Late 20th Century. The work focuses on case studies where scholars of religion offended the very communities they had imagined themselves honoring through their work. While controversies involving scholarly claims about religion are nothing new, this period saw an increase in public disputes that continues today. At its best, the situation involves constructive dialogue; at its worst, authors and their institutions are the targets of hate mail and book-banning campaigns, and communities are mistrustful of academics and the systems in which they work. These controversies raise important questions that we will deliberate on throughout the class: what does it mean to represent religion? What are the roles of sexuality, gender, racial, disability, historical, colonial and postcolonial realities in this representation? How do academic institutions both contribute to and undermine that representation? Most importantly, what does it mean to create sustained reflection about the public sphere in any project in the study of religion, or the humanities in general? What is the work of a public intellectual? The course will work through the case study method. Each week we will examine a new case in the book, and related materials. At the beginning of the class, students will choose a case study of their own to examine. Their own cases can be drawn from the study of religion or another field of the humanities. Each week, they will be asked to think through the questions raised by the case studies in the book as they might apply to their own case studies. In this way they will develop skills in reading, assessing, and even engaging themselves in controversies where there are no perfect answers. Prerequisite: One course in the study of religion or advanced work in a related field; a willingness to and experience in critically thinking through different sides of a problem; and a deep commitment to the public sphere.
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RELI 0322

All Sections in Fall 2020

Fall 2020

RELI0322A-F20 Seminar (Patton)