LS 814: Liberty and Authority: The Global Resurgence of Religion

Fall 2012  | Dr. Eleanor Stebner

No self-respecting Western scholar prior to the 1970s would have predicted that religion would emerge in the late 20th and early 21st centuries as a significant world phenomenon. Most had assumed correct some form of secularization or Westphalian notion that would relegate religion to individual piety and on the peripheral of public and political life. Quite the opposite has happened. Various forms of religiosity have emerged with astonishing force within Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and so on.

This seminar provides students with the opportunity to study this happening from an interdisciplinary perspective. The readings address questions about secularization and the “clash of civilizations” theories, the revolt against modernity, globalization, the “West” and rationalism, and thoughts on the religious renewal from Asia to America and India, from the Middle East to Russia and Central America.

Students will present on select readings, but a major portion of their studies will be directed to preparing their own case study/paper on a topic of their choice.

Articles may include (available online or through JSTOR):

Karen Armstrong, “Fundamentalism and the Secular Society,” International Journal

            59, 4 (Autumn 2004): 875-877.

Karen Armstrong, “Faith and Modernity,” 73-88 in The Betrayal of Tradition: Essays

             on the Spiritual Crisis of Modernity, ed. Harry Oldmeadow, 2005.

Benjamin R. Barber, “Jihan vs. McWorld,” The Atlantic (March 1992).

Peter Berger, “Reflections on the Sociology of Religion Today,” Sociology of Religion

             62, 4 (Winter 2001): 443-454.

Jose Casanova, “Religion, the New Millennium, and Globalization,” Sociology of

            Religion 62, 4 (Winter 2001): 415-441.

Harvey Cox and Jan Swyngedouw, “The Myth of the 20th Century: The Rise and Fall

             of Secularization,” Japaness Journal of Religious Studies 27 1/2 (Spring         2000):1-13.

Jurgen Habermas, “Religion in the Public Sphere,” The Holberg Prize Lecture, 2005.

Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs 72, 3 (Summer

            1993): 22-49.

Edward Said, “The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations,” part one, 1996 (YouTube).

Edward Said, “The Clash of Ignorance,” The Nation, October 22, 2001.

Charles Taylor, “Spiritual Gains,” The Utopian (December 7, 2010).


Books may include:

Mark Juergensmeyer, Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular States, from Christian Militias to al Qaeda (2008).

Gilles Kepel, The Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World (1994).

Monica Duffy Toft, Daniel Philpott, Timothy Samuel Shah, God’s Century: Resurgent       Religion and Global Politics (2011).

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World (2009).