Writing Seminars: The Sacred and Secular

Is there really a separation of Church and State in America? Is religion a private matter? Has modernity marginalized religion? In this course, we will examine the role of religion in the public sphere, and we will challenge our understanding of what it means to be religious in a secular world. According to Charles Taylor, we in the West have come to a point where belief in God is no longer unchallenged and the presumption of unbelief is dominant, especially in intellectual milieus. In spite of the decline in religious belief, however, contemporary debates on marriage and sexuality, gender, and race hinge on notions of religious morality. What might these conversations reveal about the boundary between religion and politics? Is a secular outlook the solution to the challenges of religious diversity in America? We will read essays on these debates in disciplines as varied as law, biology, theology, philosophy, anthropology, and race and gender studies. As we explore the relationship between religion and secularity, we will also be concerned with how religion affects the more intimate aspects of our lives. How does religion constitute our identity and define our relationship to others? How does belief or unbelief influence our sense of purpose and fulfillment? We will examine the tensions, conflicts, and anxieties religion inspires in our public and private lives.


Students who wish to enroll in this seminar should participate in online preregistration, December 7 at 9:00 a.m. - January 9 at 5:00 p.m.

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MW 2:30pm-3:45pm