Accidental Theologies

REL989
Spring 2017
TH 1:30pm - 3:20pm
Area: 
Area V
Professor: 
Permission Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 

Much of the best and most durable theology is done accidentally, or incidentally.  It occurs in letters, essays, and notebooks, and in poems and stories.  It is often, if not unintentional, at least not foremost in the writer’s consciousness.  It is often inextricable from biographical details and formal dynamics.  It is often the very thing that gets overlooked in critical appraisals of the work.

This course is designed to discuss the theology of these apparently non-theological works.  It is also designed to test our faith against the various pressures exerted by these works.

Background Expected: 

No particular background required.

Course Requirements: 

Notebook:  Every week you will have at least three entries.  The first will be a two-page response to the reading.  The second will be a half-page summary of the class discussion.  The third will be a one page response to the class discussion (not an evaluation of it; rather, a concise articulation of your own ideas in light of the discussion).  If you handwrite your entries, please keep a separate journal in which you type them up periodically.  What you turn in to me should be typed.  I will on occasion and without warning take up these journals, so please bring them to every class.

One 7-minute (exactly) presentation in last class.  This includes reciting something you have memorized, either a poem or brief passage of prose.  I will explain in class.

One 3000-4000-word essay (strict word count, both minimum and maximum).  I will give guidelines and models for this; am quite happy to discuss unusual ideas and forms for the final project, provided they are presented to me early enough.

Basis of Evaluation: 

Guidelines: “H” is reserved for outstanding work that shows not only competence but also mastery: intelligent organization, vivid expression, clarity of argument, freshness and originality. “HP” work, defined as “good,” demonstrates that a student understands the material, has a grasp on the issues in an assignment, and can develop an interesting line of thought; written expression is good. “P” work is weak, in content as well as form, but still acceptable. It is a wakeup call, however, and a warning that both the thought and writing demonstrated in the assignment are far below where they should be. “F” indicates that the work cannot receive credit. Plus and minus grades indicate the quality of a student’s work in relation to others in the same letter category. Late work is not eligible for the grade of “H” and will receive no comments.