Item Details

The Persistence of the World Religions Paradigm: Response to Jacob Barrett’s “Critical Theory in World Religions: An Experiment in Course (re)Design”

Issue: Vol 23 No. 3 (2020)

Journal: Implicit Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies

DOI: 10.1558/imre.43227


When I came to Leeds Trinity University, my job title was “lecturer in World Religions” and two of the modules (courses) I was to teach were called World Religions 1 and World Religions 2. There was also a separate module on Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. I was discouraged from changing these in the first couple of years partly because of market expectations. I taught them in much the way as described in Jacob’s paper and in the chapters on “Subversive Pedagogies” in After World Religions (Cotter and Robertson, eds, 2016). I was aware that although we were subverting the World Religions Paradigm (WRP), we hadn’t removed it. This persistence of the WRP, even when we pick it apart, concerns me. Is it really possible to teach world religions without the world religions paradigm? 

Author: Suzanne Owen

View Original Web Page

References :

Cotter, Christopher R. and David G. Robertson, eds. 2016. After World Religions: Reconstructing Religious Studies. Abingdon: Routledge.

Douglas, Mary. 1991 [1966]. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. Abingdon: Routledge.

Lofton, Kathryn. 2017. Consuming Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Masuzawa, Tomoko. 2005. The Invention of World Religions: or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McCutcheon, Russell. 2019. Studying Religion: An Introduction, second edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ramey, Steven. 2016. "The Critical Embrace: Teaching the World Religion Paradigm as Data." In After World Religions: Reconstructing Religious Studies, edited by Christopher R. Cotter and David G. Robertson, 48-60. Abingdon: Routledge.

Smith, Huston. 2009. The World's Religions. New York: HarperOne.

Smith, Jonathan Z. 2013. "Approaching the College Classroom." In On Teaching Religion: Essays by Jonathan Z. Smith. Edited by Christopher I. Lehrich. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stoddard, Brad and Craig Martin. 2017. Stereotyping Religion: Critiquing Clichés. London: Bloomsbury