Nov 30, 2011

Next semester's classes

Proseminar: American Pentecostalism
(B.A. students)

To the casual observer, American pentecostalism may well appear to be the most bewildering of contemporary forms of Christianity. Whether it’s snake handlers or prosperity preachers, healing miracles preformed on television or the exorcism of demons on the radio, “speaking in tongues,” being “slain in the spirit,” or just extraordinarily exuberant prayer, American Pentecostalism seems completely foreign to the culture around it. Yet, it emerged from and exists in that context. American pentecostalism is deeply embedded in 20th century American history. Pushing past the apparent strangeness, this class will examine the pentecostal movement in the United States, looking at its cultural relationships, and its history, beliefs and practices, paying special attention to ways these illuminate America’s recent past.

This course is intended to introduce students to the history of American Pentecostalism, as well as giving them a working understanding of the practice of religious history and cultural studies.

Text: A course reader will be made available.


Grundlagenkurs: American Religion
(B.A. students)

A brief, five-week introduction to the study of American religion, this course will familiarize students with the breadth and width of religion in America, as well as with the development of this field of study. Topics covered will include the genealogies of religions in America, an overview of the crowded and sometimes confusing religious landscape today, a brief history of the study of religion in the United States, and major themes and issues in the field.

In a separate tutorium, students will work through current, topical issues in American religion in a discussion-based format.

American Studies Methodology (M.A. students)

Thinking about culture – if done with any sophistication, any depth or complexity – also calls for thinking about thinking. American Studies, along with cultural studies and the humanities more generally, is marked by this self-reflexive move, where the study itself is taken as the object of study. In this class, we refocus on the frames for and structures of culture, rather than on culture itself. Surveying contemporary critical theory, this class will consider and explore the ideas of the Frankfurt school, deconstruction, post colonialism, queer theory, psychoanalysis, and social constructionism.

Text: A course reader will be made available.