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PTN Pedagogy and Reading List Initiative

Over the next several weeks we will have a discussion, with several senior scholars, around an inclusive question oriented to the “canon” of political theology. Though geared toward graduate students, we believe such an initiative will also enable a broad pedagogical reach…

How does one begin to participate in the field of political theology? Where does one start? What are you supposed to read? What do you teach? What are the pressing questions? What is political theology? How can I get my graduate program and my colleagues to take this discussion seriously? These questions and more have prompted the PTN Pedagogy and Reading List Initiative. The assumption is that those, who traffic in this digital and discursive space, find some importance to the field of political theology. The aim of the Political Theology Network (PTN) is to aid and abet our engagement with(in) the field, all of the pressing matters pertaining to it, and what we seek to do with it.

Through the new pedagogy series on the PTN website we endeavor to build an area which works in tandem with and extends the (out)reach of PTN’s mentoring program for underrepresented graduate students. Over the next several weeks (with a new post each Tuesday morning) we will have a discussion, with several senior scholars, around an inclusive question oriented to the “canon” of political theology. Though geared toward graduate students, we believe such an initiative will also enable a broad pedagogical reach. By discussing what political theology is and how to participate in that discussion we aim to aid scholars in preparation for comprehensive exams, designing syllabi and research projects, and gaining an understanding of the field with its porous boundaries. Therefore in three ways the project will help both faculty and students get at the “horizon of the canon” concerning political theology: firstly, by assisting faculty in guiding graduate students that are interested in political theology. Secondly, by informing both faculty and students what are the essential texts for the field. And, thirdly, after reaching an understanding of the “horizon of the canon,” where the “horizon” needs pushed and what are the texts that need to become essential texts to do that pushing, but are not yet. This may also present an opportunity for discussions and scholarly research of political theology to have a more stable presence in graduate programs, and even a more firm presence in curricula in the same as well. 

This initiative will especially aid interested graduate students who are not yet well connected with PTN and the far ranging conversation and broad discourse of political theology to approach the “horizon of the canon.” Such a feature is particularly critical for interested graduate students who may be having difficulty finding the support and counsel needed from senior scholars in the field. In so doing, PTN’s larger goal of working to develop, thicken, and advance a broad discussion and understanding of political theology will be further realized, as more are given the opportunity to participate cogently.

To accomplish this several senior scholars in the field of political theology, from a variety of disciplines and interests, have been asked to approach the “canon” of political theology considering the ways that the problematic project of modern political theology has at its core the matters of sovereignty and race. Doing so they will help us approach the “horizon of the canon” by answering four questions: 

  1. What are the top three “key texts” in the field?; 
  2. What are two texts that need to become “essential texts” but are not yet?; 
  3. What are your reasons for including these texts?; 
  4. And in two to three sentences how would you define and/or describe the field of political theology? 

Some of these scholars help to construct and define a sort of “canon” for political theology, while others critique any supposed “canonicity.” When each scholar’s entry and reading list is posted and made accessible online the entire symposium will be reflective of the broad and interdisciplinary discussion of political theology. Though diverse and expansive, the hope is that this symposium is curated to be manageable, not overwhelming, and useful for those interested in political theology.

We hope that this initiative is helpful for you somewhere along the way. Thank you for joining us! 

Symposium Essays

At the End of Liberal Theory

The texts I have identified as “need to become ‘essential’ texts” function in this spirit…Each addresses questions of community-creation outside of liberal norms and modes of power.

Deconstructing the Canon

If one speaks of Political Theology as a “field” with its own “canon” one must surely be preparing to deconstruct it.

Political Theology (政治神學) A Postcolonial Approach

The field has often shown a Eurocentric bias…As such, the field has left out important reflections on political theology during the anticolonial and postcolonial struggles in the Global South.

From A Liberationist Framework

My point is that in addition to being annoyingly Eurocentric, the discourse of political theology focuses more on administrators and theorists of the modern State than the victims of State.

Political Advocacy As A Humanist

This is a challenging question for me, as I am on the margins of political theology as a philosopher of religion and religious naturalist.

Christian Interrogation

…Political Theology is the sedimented yet changing and multifarious ways in which Christianity divides itself and (which is to say also: from) the world.

The Fluidity of the Field

Even while the concept of canon has been thoroughly critiqued and deconstructed, implicit canons remain and it may be best to acknowledge their presence rather than seek to repress them.

Wittgenstein’s Ladder

…I see my list on political theology functioning like Wittgenstein’s ladder metaphor in his Tractatus. Once graduate students read and grasp these important texts, they should “throw away the ladder”, so to speak, and deconstruct all they have learned about political theology to illuminate contemporary problems on their own. Once they reach the top, they can throw away the ladder.