Religious Studies courses frequently justify their existence with the rhetoric of “value.” While appeasing the socio-economic concerns of college boards, this undermines the work of more critical approaches under the field’s big tent. The following paper responds to this disconcerting trend by casting religious studies as an analytical discipline that takes “evaluation” as its object of study. It details a way of navigating the critical turn using Michel de Certeau’s notion of “scriptural economy” as a pedagogical framework for three lower-level, undergraduate classes: REL-101 Signifying Religion: An African American Worldview, REL-226 Introduction to the New Testament, and REL-293 Introduction to Islam. Students theorize religion as a heuristic for studying how bodies are conscribed, prescribed, described, and inscribed in relation to evaluative systems.
Richard Newton, “Locating Value in the Study of Religion,” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion (2017), 1-20. DOI: 10.1163/15700682-12341407.