Graduate Theological Union
Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions
This Area of Concentration is available to students affiliated with the following schools: ABSW, CDSP, DSPT, FST, JST, PSR, SFTS, SKSM
Students in this area incorporate cross cultural and historical themes, building upon scholarly methodologies which advance critical understandings of interreligious, multicultural and contextual religious experience. Traditions for study include Buddhism, Chinese/Japanese Religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
- Students will learn to recognize the contours of scholarship in the field of religious studies and find their own place within it.
- Students will demonstrate both a broad grounding and a developed specialization in a particular religious tradition or culture and its history.
- Students will learn to employ a religious studies methodology suited to their particular research specialization.
- Students will work through the issues of constructing a syllabus for an introductory course and will formulate a pedagogical philosophy and approach.
- Students will design and execute an original research project that makes a significant contribution to their field of specialization.
The Area requires a clear and focused statement of academic purpose, specifying a field for which the GTU has appropriate faculty resources and the student has appropriate academic background and basic language preparation.
The Area requires two foreign languages, at least one a modern research language (e.g. French, German, Japanese). The second language might be a classical language, a field language, or a second research language.
The Area requires that students take IDS 6000 (Seminar on Interdisciplinarity) in their first fall semester. They must also take HR 6006 (Issues in Contemporary Study of Religion), and students doing the teaching preparation comprehensives (below) must take IDS 6016 (Seminar on Course Design and Syllabus Development). Students are also expected to work with their advisors to identify and take courses that will prepare them for broad certification and comprehensives.
- Religious Tradition or Culture of Specialization
The student will have certified breadth in a particular tradition. The tradition may be a religious tradition(e.g., Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism) or a religious culture, such as that of China or Japan. The broad tradition or culture of specialization should be sufficiently broad to serve as grounding for at least a decade of professional work. This exam will focus on the student's significant specialization within the tradition (an historical period, a major theme -- e.g. Chan or Zen Buddhism, Religious pluralism in contemporary Turkey)
Scholars in religious studies use a wide range of methodologies (historical, philological, interpretive, anthropological, feminist, critical, postcolonial, etc.) The two required courses (see above) introduce students to a range of literature in religious studies using various methodologies and approaches, and encourages students to consider these literatures in relation to their own scholarly approaches. This exam will require the student to explore in some depth critical issues in a methodology that s/he intends to uses in his/her research. The student will develop a select bibliography in consultation with the comprehensive committee, and write a bibliographic essay or a critical essay on methodologicalissues.A very preliminary draft of the bibliography will be developed in the Seminar on lnterdisciplinarity, and the paper for Issues in Contemporary Studies in Religion (HR 6006) will be a very preliminary version of the methodology paper.
- Preparation for Teaching
This examination requires the student to prepare a full syllabus with clearly defined objectives, requirements, expectations, evaluation criteria, and a reading list for an introductory course with no prerequisites. The course can be an introductory course in the student's religious tradition or culture of specialization (see exam 1), an introduction to the study of religion, a course on world religions, or an introductory course whose scope is broader than the student's religious tradition or culture of specialization. The syllabus is to be accompanied by a 15-20 page paper describing the intellectual approach of the course and specifying the decisions made about both content and instruction.The Doctoral Seminar IDS 6016 (Seminar on Course Design and Syllabus Development) serves as a context in which to develop this syllabus and its accompanying paper.
Students whose primary professional goals are other than teaching may petition for an alternative form of this comprehensive, designed to prepare them to meet their professional goals. The petition should include a project or course and paper equivalent in sophistication to the pedagogical requirement.
- Research Paper
This paper represents the student's distinctive approach to research in religious studies, using the methodology discussed in examination 2 in conjunction with the religious tradition or culture discussed in examination 1. The paper may be related to the topic of the dissertation, but should be a self-contained, autonomous 30-40 page research paper.
Area students are expected to meet all general GTU requirements and standards for the dissertation proposal and the dissertation. Dissertations will be evaluated using the Dissertation Rubric developed by the Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions Area.
Allied Field Requirements
Core Doctoral Faculty
JUDITH A. BERLING • GTU (Chinese and comparative religions) • Interreligious learning; student centered pedagogy; interreligious theologial education; East Asian spiritualities.
IBRAHIM ABDURRAHMAN FARAJAJÉ • SKSM (Cultural Studies/Islamic Studies) • Study of Islam; history of Sufism; history of Islam; postcolonial theory; diaspora studies; HIV/AIDS; bodies, genders, and space in Islam; videotics.
MARIANNE FARINA, C.S.C. • DSPT (Philosophy and Theology) • Moral theology; Islamic philosophy and theology; comparative ethics and social theory; interfaith dialogue.
MUNIR JIWA • GTU (Islamic Studies) • Islam and Muslims in the West; aesthetics, media, and cultural production; liberalism, secular modernity, religious/subject formation; anthropology, ethnographic methods, critical theory.
SCOTT MITCHELL • IBS (Buddhist Studies) • Buddhism in Western cultural context; Pure Land Buddhism; postcolonial studies of religion; ritual studies; media studies.
RICHARD PAYNE • IBS (Japanese Buddhism) • Tantric fire ritual; ritual studies; ritual historiography; ritual structure.
Consortial Faculty Resources
LISA GRUMBACH • IBS (Buddhist Studies) • History of Buddhism; Shinto and Japanese religions; religion and landscape.
DAIJAKU KINST • IBS (Buddhism and Pastoral Care) • Foundations & development of Buddhist pastoral care, chaplaincy, counseling in interfaith context; critical foundations for effective interfaith dialogue; interface of traditional Buddhist psychology and contemporary psychoanalytic perspectives; the teachings of Eihei Dogen: Buddha Nature, Time and Self; contemplative development and the experience of Trust.
JOHN HILARY MARTIN, O.P. • DSPT emeritus (History of Religions) • Myth and ritual; noetics of symbolism; interreligious dialogue.
DAVID MATSUMOTO • IBS (Buddhist Studies) • Jodo Shinshu history and thought.
NAOMI SEIDMAN • GTU (Jewish Culture) • Translation studies; modern Jewish thought and literature; queer and gender studies; literary theory.
SEIGEN YAMAOKA • IBS (Buddhist Studies) • Shin Buddhist Ministry; Shin Buddhist Religious Education; Pure Land Buddhism in Japan and the U.S.