Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Novel Approach to Teaching American Religious History

a href=""img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5356680601661962066" style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; WIDTH: 136px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 200px" alt="" src="" border="0" //abr /divby Phillip Luke Sinitierebr /br /For my American Religious History class this fall, I'm considering revamping the course by assigning 3 or 4 novels (and perhaps a memoir). As I've done in the past, ema href=""Religion in American Life/a/em will serve as the main anchor text for the course, and I'll have a host of other primary and secondary readings for students to /br /I once assigned a memoir, James Baldwin's ema href=""The Fire Next Time/a/em (1963), and asked students to consider Baldwin's ideas about the relationship between race, religion and democratic society. Students enjoyed the book--partly because of its relative brevity--but mostly due to its deep and hefty subject matter and Baldwin's engaging and accessible writing. I will probably assign it again at some /br /a href=""img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5356679386020146850" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; WIDTH: 200px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 155px" alt="" src="" border="0" //abr /Some have suggested using a href=";s=booksamp;qid=1247198037amp;sr=1-1"emBlack Robe/em/a (1985), and Flannery O'Connor's a href=";s=booksamp;qid=1247198114amp;sr=1-1"emWise Blood/em/a (1952). Malcolm X's ema href=";s=booksamp;qid=1247198294amp;sr=1-2"Autobiography/a/em seems to be a mainstay. For me, the fact that each of these books have been made into a movie makes them compelling assignments--rich ground to discuss interpretive vantage points via text and film--but certainly there are many other worthy choices. I'd like to assign novels (or memoirs) that cover multiple time periods and address a variety of /br /a href=""img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5356679610708852274" style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 10px 10px; WIDTH: 132px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 200px" alt="" src="" border="0" //abr /divSo, what are your experiences using novels (or memoirs) to teach American religious history? What novels (or memoirs) have worked best for specific periods? What novels (or memoirs) work best to address topics such as gender, immigration, race, ethnicity, class, unbelief, or sexuality? What novels (or memoirs) explore lived religion or popular religion, or even religious pluralism? What are the possibilities, promises, and peril of the novel (or memoir) approach?/div/divdiv class="blogger-post-footer"img width='1' height='1' src=''//div

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