Roundtable Faithful Narratives: The Challenge of Religion in History

AHA Session 126
American Society of Church History 17
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Room 209 (Hynes Convention Center)
Andrea Sterk, University of Florida and Nina Caputo, University of Florida
Carlos Eire, Yale University , Susanna Elm, University of California at Berkeley , Phyllis Mack, Rutgers University-New Brunswick , Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame and John H. Van Engen, University of Notre Dame

Session Abstract

Faithful Narratives: The Challenge of Religion in History
          Closely connected with the theme for the 2011 AHA annual meeting, this roundtable will consider the methodological challenges of teaching and research that examines “History, Society, and the Sacred.”  
          Despite the apparent triumph of secularism and post-modernism, religious concepts and language lie at the foundation of political, scientific, and cultural life as well as many of the conflicts which plague the modern world.  Yet even professional academics are uncomfortable in critical discussions of religion due to their unfamiliarity with the history of those religious traditions and communities that so influence contemporary realities and discourse. The participants in this roundtable discussion will address some of the challenges of integrating a responsible scholarly engagement with religious texts, practices, and power into historical analysis and narrative. Since these issues are equally vexing in the classroom, speakers will also address some of the pedagogical challenges posed by the critical study of religion and religious themes in the classroom. 
          This panel will serve as the culmination of a year and a half long series of lectures and seminars that took place at the University of Florida and an ongoing dialogue which will find expression in a collective volume of essays on this theme.  The twelve scholars who participated in this series over the past 18 months (including incoming AHA president, Anthony Grafton) addressed overlapping themes and challenges in teaching religious history; yet they have not had the opportunity to talk together about these issues. This forum will enable some of them to engage in dialogue with each other as well as bring these important issues before a wider audience of historians. Ranging in period from late antiquity to modern America, seven scholars have agreed to participate in this AHA roundtable by commenting briefly on the major challenges they face as scholars of Christianity, Judaism, and/or Islam in the twenty-first century academic world.  Comments will be strictly limited to 5-7 minutes for each participant followed by questions and comment from the audience.           

Since the AHA proposal submission system will only allow us to include 5 names, we are listing here the seven scholars--representing private universities, state universities, and a church-related institution--who have agreed to participate in this roundtable/discussion:
            Peter Brown (Princeton University)
            Carlos Eire (Yale University)
            Susanna Elm (University of California, Berkeley)
            Phyllis Mack (Rutgers University)
            David Nirenberg (University of Chicago)
            Mark Noll (University of Notre Dame)
            John Van Engen (University of Notre Dame)

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