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AMST 688 01 (12109) /HIST577/AFAM558/WGSS695/RLST688
Historicizing Religion
Kathryn Lofton
M 9.25-11.15
Fall 2016 
 
What does it mean to offer a history of religion? How is a history of religion distinct from, or overlapping with, the history of race or gender? This course takes as its central subject a key methodological problem of modernity, namely the task to offer material accounts for human perception, social organization, and epistemological vantage. We read new historical monographs and relevant classic theories that consider what religion is, how its categorization is like and unlike other concepts for human distinction, and why it became something in modernity requiring historical diagnosis. Included in our topical survey are examinations of secularization and disenchantment; myth and narrative; church history and hagiography; objectivity and positivism; world religions and comparative religions; Orientalism and colonialism; sectarianism and secularism. Works read include Elizabeth A. Clark, History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn; Sylvester Johnson, African American Religions, 1500–2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom; and Suzanne Marchand, German Orientalism in the Age of Empire: Religion, Race, and Scholarship.