JWST 280
The Turn to Religion in Post-Modern Thought
Last Offered Fall 2008
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed JWST 280 / REL 303 / PHIL 282
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

As thinkers of the 20th century came to question the Enlightenment ideal of human self-sovereignty, both for its intellectual and political consequences, many turned back to religious imagery and concepts in pursuit of alternate modes of conceptualizing the human being. This course will examine some such endeavors in the fields of philosophy, psychoanalysis and literature. While none of the texts we examine will be explicitly theological, all will, in some form or another, make use of theological notions such as revelation, redemption, or sacrifice. In examining these texts we will be asking some fundamental questions: What meaning do religious concepts have when emptied of dogmatic content? How effective are these concepts when employed in the service of cultural critique? How might such efforts reflect back on the theorizing and practice of religions in contemporary society? We will, furthermore, analyze the very category of the post-modern by considering its relationship to the Enlightenment, debating whether this relationship is one of continuity, rupture or both, and dissecting the critique that post-modern philosophy’s concern for religion is a sign of its nostalgic or reactionary nature. Readings will include Immanuel Kant’s Religion within the Limits of Reason alone, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols, Jacques Lacan’s Feminine Sexuality, as well as essays by Luce Irigaray, Georges Bataille, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard and Jacques Derrida.
The Class: Format: discussion
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1625
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: regular participation and four writing assignments: three shorter papers of 3-5 pages on a question assigned by the instructor and a longer essay of 12-15 pages on an approved topic of the student's choice
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Religion and Philosophy majors and Jewish Studies concentrators
Unit Notes: formerly REL 280
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
JWST 280 Division II REL 303 Division II PHIL 282 Division II
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
JWST Core Electives
REL Body of Theory Courses

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