RESPONSE DEFINING THE CANON: A RESPONSE TO ARNAL AND GILL'S "APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF RELIGION" DAVID SHORTER In issue 11-2 of MTSR (1999), both William E. Arnal and Sam D. Gill offer excellent examples of how they pedagogically approach the study of religion with their first-year graduate students. Arnal designs a fairly straight-forward course by combining Daniel Pals' Seven Theo- ries if Religion ( 1996), with Brian Morris' Anthropological Studies of Religion (1987), and a reader. Gill, on the other hand, takes a broadly com- prehensive and intentionally ritualistic approach to his course. Gill utilizes the first half of the term to demonstrate historical links be- tween the academic study of religion and colonialism/ethnocentrism so that his students "feel rather hopeless about the humanities" (122). He then shows them how such genuine and effective criticisms of the field can lead to "positive, creative and yet responsible" (124) atti- tudes toward the study of religion. As a graduate student who will soon (for better or worse) be on the job market in Religious Studies, I am grateful to both Arnal and Gill for contributing two diverse and well constructed syllabi. I am particularly interested in the ways that
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1999
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