Religious Studies | Religion and Social Criticism: Authority and Religion
R661 | 25619 | Stalnaker

Is religious authority oppressive and dominating, or inspiring and
liberatory?  Perhaps it is both, either at once or at different
times and places?  In this course we will examine both classic and
recent works on the many intersections of religion and authority,
drawing from disciplines such as history, sociology, political
theory, philosophy, theology, and religious studies.  Readings and
discussions will track a number of important themes:  conceptions of
power, freedom, and constraint; charisma and institutional
structure; the role of authority and resistance to authority in self-
formation and community regulation; cultural or
ideological “hegemony” and possible “tactics” of resistance; the
interplay of social relations, habitual behavior, “discourse,” and
ideas; and various virtues (or vices) such as reverence, deference,
and awe.  Possible authors include Augustine of Hippo, Martin
Luther, G. W. F. Hegel, Max Weber, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Dumont,
Michel Foucault, Talal Asad, Michel de Certeau, Ernesto Laclau,
Chantal Mouffe, Pierre Bourdieu, Marie Griffith, Alasdair MacIntyre,
Jeffrey Stout, Sarah Coakley, Paul Woodruff, Saba Mahmood, and Eva
Feder Kittay