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Method Today

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Thirty or forty years ago, the phrase “method and theory” in Religious Studies scholarship referred to more social scientific approaches to the study of religion, as opposed to the more traditional theological hermeneutics common to the field. Today, however, it seems that everyone claims to do “theory and method,” including those people who shun social scientific approaches the academic study of religion.

Method Today brings together the contributions of scholars from a recent North American Association for the Study of Religion conference to explore the question of what it means to do “theory and method” in an era where the phrase has no distinct meaning. Contributors specifically address the categories of description, interpretation, comparison, and explanation in Religious Studies scholarship.

Published: Sep 4, 2018

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Introduction: Method Today Brad Stoddard
Part I
1. Comparison Aaron Hughes
2. He who Knows One Language Knows None: On the Inevitabilities of Comparison and Translation Lucas Carmichael
3. Comparison and the Production of Knowledge Thomas Carrico
4. On Z-factors and Empires Andrew Durdin
5. Complicating ‘Comparison’: On Perspective, Rhetoric, and Recognition in the Study of Religion Stacie Swain
6. Response Aaron Hughes
Part II
7. Forget about Defining "It" : Reflections on Thinking Differently in Religious Studies Naomi Goldenberg
8. Preaching to the Choir? Religious Studies and Religionization Ian Alexander Cuthbertson
9. Religion and Description Daniel McClellan
10. Perhaps Action Enough Emily Crews
11. In Pursuit of a Pushier Study of Those Words we Like to Put in Quotes Neil George
12. Response to the Responses Naomi Goldenberg
Part III
13. Explanation and the Study of Religion Egil Asprem, Ann Taves
14. “Constitution God-Given Rights”: Explaining Religion and Politics in the Malheur Occupation Spencer Dew
15. Ontological v. Axiological Approaches to Religion Joel Harrison
16. Is Explanation Existential? Paul Kenny
17. Causal Explanations in the Study of Religion Erin Roberts
18. To Our Critics Egil Asprem, Ann Taves
Part IV
19. Interpretation and the Study of Religion Kevin Schilbrack
20. Homo Interpretans Jennifer Eyl
21. Combining and Constituting Mark Gardiner, Steven Engler
22. Subjectivity and Meaning Joshua Lupo
23. Interpretation Matt Sheedy
24. A Reply to My Critics Kevin Schilbrack
Afterword Gregory Alles
End Matter
Index Brad Stoddard