View Chapters

Book: Thinking with J. Z. Smith

Chapter: 1. J. Z. and Me

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.39923


In the opening chapter of this book, Aaron W. Hughes answers the question of whether scholars should continue (or start) to think with J. Z. Smith with a resounding yes. What exactly does that mean, however? In Hughes’s view, Smith “encourages us to be aware of how our selves get in the ways of what we do and study, often in ways that we might not expect” and that “he forces us to become aware of where and how the questions and issues we tap—and all too often simply replicate—are neither innocent nor value-neutral.” This is the foundation of what Hughes calls “Smithian self-consciousness”: that we become cognizant of and then “reveal, to ourselves and to others, the structures that often lay dormant and that silently lurk behind our analyses and those of others.”

Chapter Contributors