Journal Article

Courses and Canons in the Study of Religion (With Continual Reference to Jonathan Z. Smith)

Nancy Levene

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 80, issue 4, pages 998-1024
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online October 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfs084
Courses and Canons in the Study of Religion (With Continual Reference to Jonathan Z. Smith)

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It is a commonplace that scholarship and teaching inform one another. Minimally, this means that the materials of research guide the formation of a syllabus. In courses that are introductory, however, teachers are called to reflect on the foundations of their scholarship. In this task, teaching serves to unsettle and provoke research, not only in the decision of what books to teach, but also in the course's argument. I propose that this argument be directed not toward a field in some ideal shape but toward the more elementary concepts of course, canon, and introduction themselves, since teaching an introductory course is perforce to consider the very nature of introduction. The three concepts of introduction, canon, and course are integral to thinking across the arts and sciences, nowhere more so than in the study of religion, where the work of Jonathan Z. Smith has tunneled, if only partially, into their paradoxes.

Journal Article.  11805 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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