This course considers important moments in the Western history of political theology in order to understand modern and contemporary discussions of secular politics. These moments will be considered in relation to comparable instances of politically imagined theology (or theologically imagined politics) from other religious traditions as well. Students will:
- examine key topics in the modern formation of these discussions (e.g., distinctions between public and private; secular spheres; religion as extra-political ideal; fanaticism; politicized evaluations of Western religion as exceptional in relation to the 'others'; religion and political revolution)
- map important similarities and differences between Western and non-Western modelling of the relationship between religion and politics
- critically evaluate recent presentations of the inherent violence of religions, the inevitability of the clash of civilizations, and the usefulness of religion in 'making globalization work'
Total Contact Hours: 30
Also available at Level 5 under TH628
Method of assessment
• Essay 1 (2,500 words) – 40%
• Essay 2 (3,000 words) – 50%
• Presentation (10 minutes) – 10%
Indicative Reading List
Giorgio Agamben. The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Geneaology of Economy and Government. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.
Gil Anidjar. The Jew, the Arab: a History of the Enemy (Cultural Memory in the Present). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003.
William Cavanaugh. The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Clayton Crockett. Radical Political Theology: Religion and Politics After Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.
Jacques Derrida. Acts of Religion. London: Routledge, 2001. (See esp. Anidjar's introduction and Derrida's essay 'Faith and Knowledge’, which is also available in Derrida’s On Religion.)
Michael Fagenblat. A Covenant of Creatures: Levinas’ Philosophy of Judaism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
8.1 Demonstrate knowledge of, and the ability to critically assess, approaches to the topic of political theology both inside and outside the Western tradition;
8.2 Demonstrate knowledge of, and the ability to critically assess, historical trajectories within various traditions as these have shaped recent discussions of 'political religions';
8.3 Frame their own research interests and disciplinary questions in light of comparative, historical and theoretical approaches to the relationship between politics and religion;
8.4 Reflect critically on key concepts such as 'sovereignty', 'globalisation', 'democracy', 'terrorism', 'fanaticism';
8.5 Discern the influence of key classical thinkers and ideas in contemporary discussions of politics and religion;
In addition, at the end of the module students at Level 6 will be able to:
8.6 Display understanding of additional research and critical thinking in written assessments that shows an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge;
8.7 Demonstrate the ability to undertake independent learning and to demonstrate this through the sophisticated use of refereed research in leading journals and other original materials;
8.8 Demonstrate critical and analytical skills in their approach to key texts.
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