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Book: On the Subject of Religion

Chapter: Response: Weaponizing Religious Literacy: Religionizing as Revitalizing the Field or Reinforcing Neoliberal Values?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41072


Responding to Leslie Dorrough Smith's paper, "On the Grammar of Teaching Religious Studies," my work asks questions about our ability to participate in the "noun and verb" forms of religion simultaneously. Thinking critically with the terms "religious literacy" and "tolerance" as anchors, my paper asks if it is possible to think about concepts, like “religious literacy” as ways of framing the kind of knowledge we find so valuable while also reflecting the knowledge that our universities and institutions recognize as having value. Or, as a colleague of mine put it recently, “can we do what is expected and maintain our own integrity while we’re at it?” Can we meet the university’s expectations and institutional requirements and use their language, but still do the kind of work we want to do? This is what I see Smith doing in her chapter, teaching religion and religious literacy in ways that show value to a variety of invested parties (including institutions and students). My paper then uses examples of activities and assignments from my courses that play with the boundaries of these two investments.

Chapter Contributors

  • Martha Smith Roberts ( - mlsmith) 'Denison University'