Critics Not Caretakers: Redescribing the Public Study of Religion

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SUNY Press, 1 .. 2012 - 296 ˹
Critics Not Caretakers argues that the study of religion must be rethought as an ordinary aspect of social, historical existence, a stance that makes the scholar of religion a critic of cultural practices rather than a caretaker of religious tradition or a font of timeless wisdom. From a general introduction written for a wide audience and a theoretical essay that outlines the basis of an alternative, socio-rhetorical approach to studying religion, the book moves on to a series of dispatches from the theory wars, each of which uses the work of such writers as Karen Armstrong, Walter Burkert, and Benson Saler as a point of entry into wider theoretical issues of importance to the field s future. The author then examines the socio-political role of this brand of critical scholarship a role that differs dramatically from the type of sympathetic caretaking generally associated with scholars of religion who feel compelled to go public. Concluding the work is a consideration of how scholars as teachers can address issues of theory and critical thinking in the undergraduate classroom. Written with verve, Critics Not Caretakers provides a viable alternative for all those dissatisfied with the covertly political, liberal humanist approach that currently dominates the study of religion.
 

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Redescribing Religion as Something Ordinary
1
Dispatches from the Theory Wars
41
Culture Critics and Caretakers
123
Going Public Teach Theory
153
Afterword
239
References
241
Index
257
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Russell T. McCutcheon is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He is the coeditor (with Willi Braun) of Guide to the Study of Religion, editor of The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader, and author of Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia.

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