REL 106 Spring 2015 Is God Dead? Secularism in the Modern World

In 1966, "Time" magazine, alluding to Friedrich Nietzsche's famous proclamation, published an issue titled "Is God Dead?" Since then, however, theories that posited the increasing disappearance and/or irrelevance of religion in the modern world have been challenged by the rise of the "religious right" in the United States, as well as Islamism, Hindu nationalism, and other religious revival movements across the globe. Secularization has become a suspect and questionable theory. This course will examine the nature of secularization, secularism, and secularity in the modern world, and theories of these phenomena. In other words, what does it mean to say we live in a secular society? Is there a connection between national religiosity and a secular "separation of church and state"? Is there a necessary connection between modernity and secularism? Can people be religious and secular at the same time? What is the relation between secularism and feminism? Is secularism and secularization unique to Europe and North America? Or is it merely the outward justification of a particular Euro-American ideological/colonial project? Or are there multiple secularities? What do secularism and secularization look like in South Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East? Is a religious government, like Iran, also secular? As some theorists suggest, are we now living in a post-secular age? These are some of the questions that this course will explore as we take a global perspective that examines these issues both historically and in the contemporary. In addition to specific historical and anthropological case-studies, we will read theorists such as Peter Berger, Jose Casanova, Charles Taylor, Janet Jakobsen, Ann Pellegrini, Talal Asad, William Connolly, and others.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation, two short essays (4-5 pages), in-class mid-term exam, and final project
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: prospective Religion majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
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Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 3995
REL 106 - 01 (S) SEM Secularism in the Modern World Division 2: Social Studies Zaid Adhami
MR 1:10 PM-2:25 PM 3995
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