Practicum’s Syllabus Project–Signifying Religion

"Syllabus Project: Signifying Religion: An African American Worldview," Practicum: Critical Theory, Religion, and Pedagogy.

Practicum: Critical Theory, Religion, and Pedagogy is one of my favorite #acrel reads. It embraces an expansive understanding of the religious studies project as a theorizing enterprise. It bucks the idea that teaching and research are somehow mutually exclusive activities. And its contributors constantly challenge me to step my game up in theory, writing, and teaching.

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The editors of The Practicum Blog asked me to share my take on REL101 for their Syllabus Project series. In my post, I discuss how Signifying Religion: An African American Worldview came to be.

My introduction to religious studies course emerged from a chance encounter and a deceptively simple question. I was making small talk with an academic editor who specialized in history.  In the course of our conversation, she felt comfortable enough to ask me, “Why would African Americans be Christians given the religion’s role in the slave institution?”

I’m currently teaching the course for the second time, and I’ve had a blast doing it. Head on over there to join the discussion.


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Richard Newton, PhD is curator of Sowing the Seed and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at  Elizabethtown College. His scholarship focuses on the anthropology of scriptures.