Saturday, August 25, 2012


I'm officially starting the first semester of my doctoral program this week and though I'm pretty excited to be taking great classes, right now I'm struggling to fill that third seminar spot I need for my semester. So far, I know for sure I will be taking:

Acts of the Apostles (Carl Holladay)
Greco-Roman backgrounds (Walter Wilson)

But as for the third class, here are the options (with their class descriptions)

Questions of War (Ellen Ott Marshall):
Traditionally, ethicists refer to the debate over the moral justification of war as “the question of war.”  This course includes writings by Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr, John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and Michael Walzer to discuss the moral justification.  Increasingly, however, ethicists find themselves addressing multiple questions of war.  For this reason, “Questions of War” in the fall of 2012 will also examine contemporary issues, such as the ethics of exit, the use of torture, drones, genocide and humanitarian intervention, and the reality of child soldiers.

The Book of Jubilees and Related Works (William Gilders):
In this course, we will read and interpret the book of Jubilees, a work composed in Hebrew sometime in the second century B.C.E., probably in the land of Israel.  In connection with our focused study of Jubilees, we will look at several other works, which appear to be related to the book (such as the Aramaic Levi document, the Genesis Apocryphon, and the Temple Scroll).  Through our study of Jubilees and the related texts, we will explore questions about the varieties of Second Temple Judaism(s) and their literary expressions; the meaning and utility of the designation “rewritten Bible”; methods, forms, and purposes of biblical interpretation in early Judaism; and theoretical issues in the study of the “reception” of biblical literature.

People of the Book and Critical Ethnography (Don Seeman):
Ethnography has come relatively late to the critical study of the world’s most highly textual religious traditions. This course investigates issues related to textuality and scriptural authority as well as media and lived experience in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We will ask whether there is something about these three broad traditions that justifies comparative analysis and we will explore the cultural politics of representation within both anthropology and the academic study of religion.  In particular, we will examine the possibilities and limitations of interdisciplinary research involving both textual and ethnographic research methods.

Special Topcs in History: Subalternity and Difference (Gyanendra Pandey/Bruce Knauft):
Focusing on concepts that have been central to writings on the history, society, and culture of marginalized, subordinated and disenfranchised populations, we set out in this course to investigate how notions of subalternity and difference intersect with, enable, or complicate one another in different times and places.  The seminar is centrally concerned with a question that critical theorists, feminists and other oppositional movements have raised, of how modern societies and states take account of, and manage, social, economic and cultural difference.  We shall examine at the same time how disadvantaged and subalternized groups -- women, blacks, dalits, ethnic minorities, conquered indigenous peoples, migrants and unsettled populations -- have in their turn deployed the category of difference to provoke a re-arrangement, if not an overturning, of prevailing structures of power.  The historical and ethnographic texts we read will explore the production of conditions of marginality and minority, subalternity and difference, across time and space.

It's always a struggle to pick a good class and now that these classes will likely contribute in some way to both my dissertation and my prelims, it's all the more difficult! Anyone have any thoughts on some of these classes?

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