Christian L. Novetzke
Reading and discussion of selected works of major importance in interdisciplinary international studies. Restricted to majors in International Studies.
SIS 498 seminars are interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, so the conversation often ranges across many of the academy’s usual boundaries. In the case of this course, the materials we will engage range across sociology, religious studies, history, philosophy, postcolonial studies, culture studies, political science, and the arts (including literature and film). Across this expanse of materials, we will ask one question: what is the relationship between religion and history in modernity? Why is this question important to ask? Like science, systematic rationality, the idea of the nation, representative government, industrialization, the rise of capitalism, and human-centered social justice, the ability to think and act historically is one sign of being modern. And the primary location for the modernity that historical thinking indicates is the West. Conversely, religion has often been the sign of the pre-modern (the medieval or primitive) or anti-modern (the fundamentalist or traditionalist). We often imagine that it was against religious authority that the modernity arose, to challenge dogma with science, faith with rational thought, and an investment in the secular (ie, “the world”) over the afterlife. This dialectic of religion and history is part of how we view the world today along its many dividing points, between primitive and modern, rational and sensual, developing and developed, West and East, secular and theocratic, free and enslaved.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Seminar, no lectures; discussion.
Class assignments and grading