12:00 PM to 01:15 PM MW
Section Information for Fall 2019
In this course, students will analyze texts that Americans have treated as “scripture.” Students will read texts that present themselves as scripture, such as selections from the Book of Mormon and a Holy Sacred and Divine Roll and Book (a Shaker text). They will also read texts that have attained a sort of canonicity within American culture, such as the Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Students will thus gain more than a valuable familiarity with a variety of American religious traditions. They will also reflect on the way that, even in a digital age, texts continue to shape American identity. Finally, the course invites students to reflect on the meaning and function of “scripture.” Although many Americans reflexively define scripture as “the Word of God” or think of the Bible or the Qu’ran, the scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith cautions that “no text is a scripture in itself and as such. People—a given community—make a text into scripture, or keep it scripture.” Along those lines, Americans, and different groups of Americans, have granted such authority to a wide variety of texts.