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This volume takes as its object not religion as such but a set of interventions that raised to scholarly consciousness some of the intellectual problems and political stakes in the representation of religion. Its point of departure is Wilfred Cantwell Smith's early critique of European and North American productions of 'religion' as an object of knowledge. Selections take up something of the form and consequences of Smith's argument as the task of making explicit the historically determined status of religion's use as a category for describing and differentiating humans, their behaviors and social practices. Thematic links are made between classic interventions in Religious Studies and related fields of critical inquiry (including essays by Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Joan Wallach Scott, and Jonathan Z. Smith) and their contemporary interlocutors. Framed innovatively by the themes of cultural and scholarly mapping, the critique of texts and textuality, and sexualized, racialized, and gendered constructions of the body, with each section prefaced by original contributions from leading scholars in the field (e.g. Amy Hollywood and Burton Mack), Readings in the Theory of Religion will prove indispensable to students and scholars in every sub-field of critical and cultural studies of religion.
Scott S. Elliott is Assistant Professor of Religion at Adrian College, Adrian, Michigan. He holds a PhD from the Graduate Division of Religion at Drew University. He is co-editor of Translation and the Machine: Technology, Meaning, Praxis (2008). He currently chairs the Ideology, Culture and Translation Group of the Society of Biblical Literature. Matt Waggoner is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut. He holds a PhD from the Department of History of Consciousness at University of California, Santa Cruz. Waggoner has served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University and his articles appear in Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Culture and Religion, and Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Part I
"Religion" in the West
Introduction [to Genealogies of Religion]
Frontiers of Comparison
Religion and the Invention of Racism
Map is Not Territory
Introduction to Part II
The Task of the Translator: An Introduction to the Translation of Baudelaire's Tableaux Parisiens
The Death of the Author
Sacred Persistence: Toward a Redescription of Canon
Original Lost: An Image of Myth and Ritual in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
The Imperial Bible
Introduction to Part III Amy Hollywood
Feminist Theory, Embodiment, and the Docile Agent: Some Reflections on the Egyptian Islamic Revival
Introduction: Foucault's The History of Sexuality: The Fourth Volume, or, A Field Left Fallow for Others to Till
Sex and the Single Apostle
Diaspora: Generation and the Ground of Jewish Identity
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