Teaching geographies of religion and secularism

Now that my first term of teaching at U of T is winding down, it’s time to start thinking about the next term. I intentionally scheduled both undergrad and graduate courses on religion and secularism to take place in the same term, but I’m not sure yet how much overlap there will be in content or organization. Originally, I wanted to run them like Prof. Gillian Hart’s development studies course at UC Berkeley where grad students attended her undergrad lectures and held an additional reading-intensive seminar (I think).

That’s more than I can handle this first time… could lectures for a second-year undergrad course on religion and secularism really be useful for grad students? Could graduate-level theories on religion be useful (and comprehensible) to undergrad students as well? We’ll see. As I envision them now, the undergrad course will be organized around issues and case studies whereas the grad seminar will prioritize epistemological and methodological (and political) questions — what is a geographical approach to religion, and how does one do it? There should be plenty of cross-fertilization between the undergrad and grad courses, and I’m looking forward to this as an opportunity to reflect on and organize what I’ve been reading over the last decade. I’ll certainly learn a lot about clarifying key concepts and raising complex theoretical questions at the same time. And it’s good timing — my head will be filled with religion as I prepare for field research in Seoul in late spring/early summer in 2013.

GGRB55H3 Geographies of Religion and Secularism (undergraduate lecture)
Examines religious movements, faith-based practices, and secularism with an emphasis on transnational flows and contentious sites. Includes discussion of immigrant and transnational community formations, faith-based welfare and class formation, fundamentalisms and social movements, conflict and violence, and debates concerning gender and sexuality.

GGR1706H Geographies of Religion and Secularism (graduate seminar)
Geography of religion has the potential to interpret and examine not only the places of worship, but also the spatial dynamics of religious practices and institutions. The Christian church, for example, indicates both the building and the institution, and the very word, “congregation,” quite obviously denotes spatial gathering. This course will train students to cast a wide intellectual net, examine the bounty of interdisciplinary—and interconnected—scholarship on contemporary religion, and develop their own approaches as feminist, cultural, and political geographers. Diverse and wide-ranging readings will include Talal Asad, Charles Taylor, Yi-Fu Tuan, Saba Mahmood, Judith Butler, Sara Ahmed, Rick Warren, and Marjane Satrapi. Particular attention will be paid to research design and methodological considerations.