The Graduate Seminar – Methods in Religious and Theological Studies

Pivoting off select texts in theological method, this doctoral seminar introduces key theorists who, in the contemporary period, are influencing and shaping scholars’ work in religious and theological studies. Scholars covered are drawn from a set of those typically not covered at Taylor’s institution (Karl Marx, Frantz Fanon, Achille Mbembe (see above image of Mbembe’s Necropolitics), Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Edward Said, Achille Mbembe, Tsenay Serequeberhan, Homi Bhabha, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Luc Nancy, Gloria Anzaldúa, Judith Butler, Jasbir K. Puar, Walter Mignolo, Kuan-Hsing Chen, Denise Ferreira da Silva).



The seminar’s reflection on antagonism is registered in its attention to the rupturing of Western Eurocentric thinking, both by self-critical thinkers at work in the West (Fanon, Foucault, Derrida, Mignolo, Spivak) and by those who engage Western thinkers out of research and experience in the global South (Chen, Silva, Puar, Serequeberhan, Anzaldúa, and so on). The seminar thus is a labor of thought amid rupture, across the “colonial difference” (Mignolo), amid “the colonial wound” (Anzaldúa).

The arts and their importance to critical thinking amid such antagonism are theorized largely through the writings of Nancy, Fanon, and Taylor’s own The Theological and the Political. As one aspect of art as resistance, the seminar itself embodies “the arts” of interrogating texts, of interrogating one another – a form of liberating spirit in critical theory as practice. To this end, the seminar is structured in ways that are heavily dependent upon students’ own creating of seminar agendas, of critical tasks and writing.

The social movement aspect is accented by tracing the ways thinking bodies are affected by shifts of power in practices, occurring across the colonial wound, thus sparking new critical theories. Special attention is thus given to women’s movements, organizations making revolutionary spaces for new sexualities, racially-marked groups in Black and Latina/o-led activist against the U.S. “prison imperial complex,” indigenous resisters for dignity, land and equality by indigenous groups (Chiapas’ Zapatistas, but others, too), “deimperialization” efforts as focused in Chen’s work, national consciousness movements (not nationalism) as called for by Fanon, “return to the roots” efforts of Amilcar Cabral as highlighted by Mbembe and Serequeberhan.