Religious Studies at Sewanee is dedicated to the study of religion as a critical component of social making, historical construction, and systems of valuation. Faculty in the department bring to the classroom and to their scholarship an array of theoretical, methodological, and empirical expertise across a variety of geographies, chronologies, economies, and traditions. From antiquity to postmodernity, China to Chattanooga, students in the Religious Studies Department interrogate religion as an analytical category, a colonial construction, an anthropological observation, an institutional formation, and a hermeneutic of hegemony and resistance. Many disciplines and fields of study in the liberal arts press students toward critical thinking and self-reflection. The study of religion contributes to this endeavor through a focused effort to understand and critique the roles and relations of religion relative to textual traditions, institutional organizations, sensory cultures, and practices of mediation, classification, and contestation. No study of religion is complete without a serious wrestling with its implications in the intimate histories and cultures of atrocity, imperialism, resistance, and indifference. Coursework in this department challenges students to confront and reconsider these associations and the consequences thereof.
Religious studies is not a monolithic field of study but is instead constituted in its interdisciplinary reach--from language study, philosophical investigation, and textual analysis to sociological comparison, archival research, ethnographic fieldwork, and beyond. For this reason, the study of religion complements and contributes to many other fields of study, and students regularly combine their studies of religion with those of other departments, including majors and minors across the humanities and social and natural sciences and in connection with co-curricular activities and undertakings. It should be noted that the Department of Religious Studies orients on the academic study of religion and does not endorse, promote, or advance any particular religious tradition, instead investigating such promotions as part of the varied data available to scholars and students of religion for continued analysis and critique. We will not study religion in a sanitized and sanctified manner but rather as we find it: on the ground, airwaves, websites, mosques, classrooms, voting booths, foxholes, monasteries, and every other location and realm in which it is entangled.
Department of Religious Studies
735 University Avenue
Sewanee, TN 37383-1000
Dr. Eric Thurman
Office Location: Walsh-Ellett 207
Phone: (931) 598-1351