REL 501 World Religions
World Religions: Classification and Comparison
The predominant views in the West regarding the meaning and end of religion and world religions are frequently simplistic and out of touch with the realities on the ground and in actual religious communities with real religious people around the world. This graduate level course provides the opportunity for sustained and critical engagement of the concept of “religion” and “world religions,” including extensive exposure to the hegemonic influence of the West in shaping our modern perceptions. Students will engage the main themes that shape the current discussion and debate about how religions should be thought about, classified, and compared.
1) Brent Nongbri, Before Religion (Yale University Press)
2) Craig Martin, A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion (Equinox)—buy first edition, 2012 (can purchase on Amazon Marketplace for under $10.00)
3) Catherine Bell Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (Oxford University Press)
4) Donald S. Lopez, Prisoners of Shangri-La (Chicago University Press)
5) J. Carrette and Richard King, Selling Spirituality (Routledge)
Dr. Todd Penner
Todd has a Ph.D. from Emory University (2000) and has taught in the fields of Religious Studies, Gender and Cultural Studies, and Biblical Studies for the past 20 years. He has an extensive publication record and has given much thought to the contours of fruitful, innovative, and creative research methodology.
"I am interested in exploring both the epistemological foundations of how we know what we know and why it matters and the arrangement of data and its meaning-making properties. I am especially invested in the rearrangement of the coordinates of knowledge and knowledge production as a means to redistribute power and its relations so that we can begin to imagine new ways of being human in an oft inhumane world; a move that lies at the heart of the Humanistic tradition with which I identify. And in this I take my cue from Thomas Pynchon’s famous dictum: “If they can get you asking the wrong questions then they don’t have to worry about the answers.”