I’m running a workshop at the 2019 Society for the Study of Theology conference about “diversifying the curriculum”. We’re talking about some different models of “diversifying”, what the challenges are, and what has worked.
I’ve been putting the syllabi I’ve created up on the blog for a while now but wanted to have a single place I could point people to: here, then, is that post, with links to all the different syllabi I’ve uploaded. If you’re interested in syllabi by the AUFS authors more broadly, you can check our posts tagged syllabi; if you’re interested in our more general reflections on teaching, you can take a look at our posts tagged teaching.
First year undergraduate syllabus (on Augustine, suffering and study skills): Great Christian Thinkers: Joining the Conversation
First year undergraduate syllabus: Introduction to Political Philosophy
First year undergraduate syllabus (on Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, John Calvin, Friedrich Schleiermacher and Gustavo Gutiérrez): Great Christian Thinkers 2
Second year undergraduate syllabus: The Making of Modern Christianity: Medieval Europe
Second year undergraduate syllabus: Hegel, Marx and Dialectical Thought
Second and third year undergraduate syllabus: Christianity, Race and Colonialism
Second and third year undergraduate syllabus: Gender, Sexuality and the Bible
MA syllabus: Dazzling Darkness: Mysticism and Philosophy
For the past couple of years I’ve been teaching a first year introductory module called “Joining the Conversation”. The module exists to introduce students to key themes and concepts in Christian theology (hopefully in a way that engages both our philosophy and our theology students), to a key Christian thinker – St Augustine – and to a key set of study skills relating to reading texts, critically engaging with them, and writing essays. The module is organised around the theme of suffering, and the question of whether suffering is “What Matters Most”. Here’s the module descriptor I use:
April 18 and 19, 2019
569 Spadina AveThe Graduate Student Association at the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion invites you to a graduate symposium that explores the significance and relevance of forms of theoretical negativity for the study of religion. All sessions are free and open to the public.
This post was written by Jacob J. Erickson, who is an Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics at Trinity College Dublin.
i. Theological Winterkill
In the title poem of his 2016 collection Winterkill, poet Todd Davis describes meandering through a liminal scene of April in Springtime. Snow begins to melt; berries and mint begin to burst through in subtle natalities. Summer is just around the corner, and a sense of hopeful optimism in lush forms ecological life begin to burst through. It is Spring, after all, a time of new life. Davis or Davis’ narrator walks and gathers and moves in a choreographed celebration of the season of birth.
And that’s where Davis performs his characteristic magic. The poem’s lines turn with a subtle and unexpected ecological reality: the melt of snow reveals death as much as birth. Transformation in the season is simultaneously both. He writes,
And in this I find the bones of animals who starved,
or were run down by coyotes or wild dogs leaping over
the deeper snow, who also felt hunger gnawing at their bones.[i]
Winterkill is what has been exposed and killed by cold, and usually refers to plants. But Davis extends the phrase’s meaning to the animal world, living and dead. Ecological loss enables ecological transformation. The corpse of a doe comes into view, as does the flailing quills of a rotting porcupine. The scene of lush spring is haunted by hunger and unseen history.
Davis leads us to stand somewhere in the ambiguous and real palimpsest. His imaginative landscape is one where the grammar of the deaths of these animals, the scribbled transformations of their bodies, and the cursive flows of flowering plants growing in and around them tell us a story of our own ecological context as, well, complicated. The landscape is haunted both by birth and death and it’s hard to tell the difference in places. Haunting challenges the odd linear stories humans like to tell about ecological life. In other of Davis’ poems, a haunted glory meets life all around, and divinity shimmers through the creaturely, flourishing and winterkill bones, all.
There is a way in which Eric Daryl Meyer, too, is walking around and uncovering the more ominous winterkill that haunts theological anthropology. Animality is “a stowaway who (alone and silently) keeps the engine running and the whole craft moving smoothly. Animality is the scapegoat whose life outside the community—forgotten and abandoned—knits the life of the community together.”[ii] In his brilliant Inner Animalities: Theology and the End of the Human, Meyer looks to the more delicate instabilities of the loci communes of theological anthropology and sees in those commons spaces “the bones of animals who starved,” spiritually, metaphorically, really, and physically. Continue reading “Ghost Species: The Haunting of Inner Animalities (Inner Animalities Book Event)”
[Each week, Sarah Jaffe — a new Star Trek fan who came to the franchise through Discovery — and Adam Kotsko — a long-time obsessive who has spent way too much time thinking about Star Trek — have been chatting about their impressions of the newest episode. Since we fell behind again, this post covers “Perpetual Infinity” and “Through the Valley of Shadows.” A full archive can be found here.]
SJ: I was afraid they were gonna kill Tyler and then I was going to have to go on strike from the show
I guess. I have watched the last one and I have thoughts.
(largely that the solution makes no sense, wtf)
Violence was present in my home. This does not make me special since violence is present in every home. I am even tempted to ask, don’t you know? There is no such thing as home. Only dead trees and minerals ripped from the ground and legally binding paperwork. Home is a name to cover that violence. But violence is not in itself a moral or ethical category. In naming home as violence I am not saying that home is bad or evil, though I am certainly also not claiming that violence simply is and that we should embrace it either, that violence is simply something “good”. In reading Eric’s Inner Animalities: Theology and the End of the Human I was drawn to thinking about violence, to asking what it is. I was drawn to wondering about the violence of my childhood, to the violence of eating, the violence of sex, and the violence that is here now and that is to come.
So much of the violence of home seems to take place around the dinner table. One must of course give the usual preamble here: a certain home, a certain family, even a certain dinner, to say nothing about the table. But at least anecdotally I can think of how often the tensions of home, the underlying violence, often manifests at the dinner table. Allow me some biography here, since to write about life is perhaps to write about the one that we have lived. So I can think of my step-father here, whose job as a cop was always tied to violence, and who demanded that there always be meat at dinner.
Continue reading “Closer, or the Pleasure of Being Eaten (Inner Animalities Book Event)”