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Political Theology

Semester and Year SP 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1521
Section 001
Instructor George Shulman
Days T
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC, PREMOD


Open to sophomores only.


This course explores the idea of "political theology." In conventional interpretations, the concept has suggested that forms of political rule are anchored in or justified by divine revelation, god's law, or a scripture that enshrines them. Commentators thereby infer a politics from a scripture that they read didactically. But many political theorists have interpreted political theology more broadly, to suggest that collective and personal life is always anchored in a form of faith, including faith in reason, or secularism or democracy. In addition, because no faith (or scripture) is self-evident in what it means and entails, people interpret and practice "theology" in deeply divergent ways, even within the same ostensible faith. Politics thus involves the practice of reading or interpretation, as well as judging and mediating conflict both within and among a variety of faiths. To explore how issues of interpretation and conflict relate faith, self-formation, and politics, we read closely but "against the grain" in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian gospels, while also exploring seminal modern commentaries. The modern readings may include: Kierkergaard,  Fear and Trembling;  Schmitt,  Political Theology  and  The Concept of the Political ; Dostoevsky, "The Grand Inquisitor;" Nietzsche,  Thus Spake Zarathustra , as well as work by William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin, and contemporary political theorists.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)