Making the Case for the Critical Study of Religion

writingreligion1Steven Ramey, one of the collaborators on Culture on the Edge, has published an edited volume with the University of Alabama Press that features contributions from a number of scholars whose work has influenced members of Culture on the Edge. With his Introduction and an Afterword from Russell McCutcheon, the volume as a whole demonstrates the potential of the critical study of religion for both relevant research and the development of a thriving academic department.

The volume has ten main chapters, written by each of the Aronov Lecturers over the first ten years of that series at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, where several of us teach. The Aronov Lecture each year features an internationally recognized scholar, selected by the Religious Studies faculty, whose work is considered widely relevant to the work in the field and related disciplines. Some of the figures included in the volume whose work has been especially helpful for the Culture on the Edge collaboration are Tomoko Masuzawa, Aaron Hughes, Bruce Lincoln, and Jonathan Z. Smith. The ten central chapters are the following.

God Save This Honorable Court: Religion and Civic Discourse
Jonathan Z. Smith

An Early Moment in the Discourse of “Terrorism:” Reflections on a Tale from Marco Polo
Bruce Lincoln 

“A Storm on the Horizon”: Discomforting Democracy and the Feeling of Fairness
Ann Pellegrini

Fear of Small Numbers
Arjun Appadurai

Developing a Critical Consciousness: A Feminist Approach to Religion
Judith Plaskow

Religious Practices and Communal Identity of Cochin Jews: Models, Metaphors, and Methods of Diasporic Religious Acculturation
Nathan Katz

Regarding Origin: Beginnings, Foundations, and the Bicameral Formation of the Study of Religion
Tomoko Masuzawa

De-Judaizing Jesus: Theological Need and Exegetical Execution
Amy-Jill Levine

How to Theorize with a Hammer, or, On the Destruction and Reconstruction of Islamic Studies
Aaron Hughes

“Can I Share a Personal Example?” Self-Disclosure, Religious Studies Pedagogy, and the Skeptical Mission of the Public University
Martin Jaffee

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