Religious Studies | Cross-Cultural Study of Religion
R662 | 24999 | Jaques


Is it possible to compare one religion to another? Is it legitimate
to do so across deep cultural and linguistic difference? How
was “comparative religion” carried out in the past—on what
assumptions, and to what ends? What has changed? Does comparison
yield a distinctive kind of knowledge of religions? Does comparison
remain a viable enterprise as the twentieth century draws to a
close, or is it best viewed as a now-defunct moment in the modern
development of humanistic studies? This seminar provides some
grounding in the history of the comparative study of religion, and
examines the fundamental intellectual and methodological issues
inherent in such study. Intensive reading, some writing projects,
and in-class presentations are required. Format is participatory.


Texts: Readings from the history of cross-cultural comparison (both
primary and secondary
work): anthropological, sociological, and phenomenological theory
(both old and recent); and recent works in which comparative theory
is instructively applied. Students registering for the R792 version
of the course will have a few additional assignments and will write
a longer research paper.