Help me plan a course on Political Theology

In September I’ll be teaching a joint second-and-third-year undergraduate course on political theology – by which I mean political theology as Adam helpfully defines it, ‘the study of the very relationship between politics and theology, centering on structural homologies and conceptual exchanges between the two fields.’ rather than just a course about politics and theology. I have a good sense of the broad ‘canon’ I’m working with (again, broadly along the lines that Adam sets out here), but much less of a sense of how to find and teach texts that undergraduates will find accessible and engaging. So I’m posting this in the hope that readers of the blog might be able to share any accumulated wisdom from teaching in this area. Which texts or authors work well for undergraduates? Which do not? Any suggestions/advice/tips gratefully received. As always, I’ll post my syllabus here once it’s done.

Here’s the module description I created when I first set up the module:

“All significant concepts of the modern state are secularized theological concepts”. With this claim, Carl Schmitt set the terms for the discipline of political theology, which seeks to understand the relationship between theological conceptions of God and the world and politics. This module will seek to explore these interconnections, from the bureaucratic function of angels to the god-like power of money. How have theology and politics informed one another, and what does it mean to recognise the theological origins of many key systems and structures of many of our supposedly secular ways of thinking?

4 thoughts on “Help me plan a course on Political Theology

  1. Students find Schmitt very difficult if not impenetrable in my experience. You have to do it, but you need to be very intentional about the selections you make and do some heavy lifting contextually.

    If you’re using my “canon,” I’ve already told you privately that Assmann works well for undergrads. I’ve generally skipped chs. 3 and 4, but if you wanted to do Moses and Monotheism, maybe you could also include 4. Federici works well, too, though I tend to skip the long chapter on the witchhunts (ironically, I’m skipping the whole point of the book…).

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