2008-09 AM Postsecular Britain? Religion, Secularity, and Cultural Agency
|The Independent: "At last, Blair is free to 'do God' – and America loves it", Friday, 6 February 2009||Dear students, I have corrected your written work. Come and see me in my office hours. Best, A.A.|
- Lecturers: Anna Auguscik
- 1 Course Description
- 2 Requirements
- 3 Course Programme
- 4 Keynote Speakers
- 5 Further Reading
- 6 Links and Quotes
One option in the discussion of current political and social paradigm shifts has been to address our condition as postsecular. The term has come up in the course of the last twenty years, especially in the new millennium, and is widely associated with the challenges faced by a multicultural, pluralistic society. This course is organized around the international conference "Postsecular Britain? Religion, Secularity, and Cultural Agency", which will take place in Oldenburg on November 20-22, 2008. The workshop offers a short introduction into theoretical debates and aims at students who are interested in tracking recent developments in literary and cultural studies. We will meet before the conference for a preparatory glance at the conference program and abstracts. Students will then be asked to attend the conference, take notes and follow the discussions. Each student will concentrate on one keynote lecture and two further speakers. Finally, we will meet for a debriefing session to compare notes, discuss impressions as well as individual points of interest.
- Please note: This is a workshop - you may gain 3 KPs only. To be combined with other courses under AM 2b, AM 10 and AM 11.
- attend preparatory and debriefing sessions
- Fr, 7 Nov 14-16h
- Fr, 14 Nov 14-16h
- Fr, 28 Nov 14-16h
- Fr, 5 Dec 14-16h
- become familiar with conference programme and abstracts
- read two preparatory texts (Fish and McLennan - cf. Further Reading)
- active participation during the conference
- become an expert on one keynote lecture and two further speakers
- take minutes which will include arguments of the paper, the following discussion, and your own thoughts
- then present in writing: approx. 5 pages per speaker; formatting see style sheet
- though this will not be your usual piece of academic paper, you may want to check our writing guide and roughly stick to the following structure
- Reflect on the abstract, its main assumptions, arguments and sources. (do the authors define a problem in their abstract? how do they approach the problem?)
- Discuss the abstract in relation to the speech. (do the speakers address the problem in their speech? what were the main conclusions and how did the speakers arrive at these?)
- Comment on the reception of the speech. (what are the main points of discussion after the speech?)
- State your own questions/problems/points of insight.
Preparatory Session 1: Friday, Nov 7
- introduction into theoretical debates 1
- Reading: Stanley Fish (2005)
- conference programme and abstracts
Preparatory Session 2: Friday, Nov 14
- introduction into theoretical debates 2
- Reading: Gregor McLennan (2007)
- research on and background of speakers
Conference: Thursday, Nov 20
18.30 - 20.00: conference opening
- Speakers: President of the Association, President of Oldenburg University, Conference Convenors
keynote lecture 1
- Steve Bruce (Department of Sociology, University of Aberdeen), "We don't do God": the slow death of religious controversy in Britain.
Conference: Friday, Nov 21
09.00 - 10.45 section I: Religion in the British tradition
- Jutta Schwarzkopf (Dept. of Foreign Languages, University of Magdeburg), Subverting Hierarchies: Female Prophesying in Mid-Seventeenth-Century England;
- Stuart Sim (School of Arts, Design, Media & Culture, University of Sunderland), Two Narratives of Religious Despair: John Bunyan's 'The Pilgrim's Progress' and James Hogg's 'Confessions of a Justified Sinner';
- Brycchan Carey (Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, Kingston University, London), 'Equiano was a Christian? Who knew?': Re-reading Secular Histories of the British Abolition Movement.
11.15 - 13.00 section II, 1: The persistence of religious debates
- Thomas Kühn (Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Technische Universität Dresden), Sunday - Contested Religious and Secular Practices in Focus;
- Markus Büchele (Bad Nauheim), Peace be with you. The Catholic clergy and its efforts towards obtaining peace in Northern Ireland;
- Cyprian Piskurek (Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universität Dortmund), An Unfinished Fight over the Reformation? Glasgow's "Old Firm" and the Persistence of Sectarianism.
14.30 - 15.30 keynote lecture 2
16.00 - 17.45 section II, 2: The persistence of religious debates
- Dirk Wiemann (Englisches Seminar, Universität Tübingen), Only Citizens and No People? Communal Jurisdiction in a Secular State;
- Jakob Dittmar (Abt. Medienwissenschaft, Institut f. Sprache & Kommunikation, Technische Universität Berlin), Defenders of Faith -- multi-faith-confessions between political tool and religious inclusion;
- Rainer Emig (Englisches Seminar, Universität Hannover), British Paganism Today: Tradition, Reinvention, Life-Style Option, or Ideological Resistance?
Conference: Saturday, Nov 22
09.00 - 10.00 keynote lecture 3
- Graham Huggan (Institute of Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, University of Leeds), Is the 'Post' in Postcolonial the 'Post' in Postsecular?
10.20 - 12.20 section III: The postsecular in contemporary debates: popular culture, media, theory
- Kathleen Starck (Institut für Anglistik / Amerikanistik, Universität Osnabrück), The 'Religious Turn' in Cold War Films: "The Prisoner";
- Patricia Feise-Mahnkopp (Institut für Germanistik, Universität Oldenburg), Finding God in the MATRIX -Film trilogy. Or: religious experience in postsecular media culture.
- Stefan Herbrechter (Anglistisches Seminar, Universität Heidelberg; Leeds Trinity & All Saints), Postmodernism, Postsecularism and Posthumanism.
13.45 - 15.00 Concluding round table discussion and questions
Debriefing Session 1: Friday, Nov 28
- Comparing notes
Debriefing Session 2: Friday, Dec 5
- Final discussion
- Feedback on evaluation
Hand in your written work by noon Dec 15, 2008
- 2007. Paisley: Religion and Politics in Northern Ireland. Oxford: Oxford UP.
- 2002. God is Dead : Secularization in the West. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
- 2007. Australian Literature: Postcolonialism, Racism, Transnationalism. Oxford: Oxford UP.
- 2001. The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins. London: Routledge.
- 2007. Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea. Polity.
- 2000. Ethnic Minorities in Britain: Diversity and Disadvantage. London: Policy Studies Inst.
- McLennan, Gregor. 2007. "Towards Postsecular Sociology?" Sociology 41.5: 857-870. [IBIT: Z soz 250.5 ZA 6736]
- Geoghegan, Vincent. 2007. "Political Theory, Utopia, Post-Secularism". Utopia Method Vision: The Use Value of Social Dreaming. Eds. Tom Moylan and Raffaella Baccolini. Oxford, England: Peter Lang. 69-86.
- Kaufmann, Michael W. 2007. "The Religious, the Secular, and Literary Studies: Rethinking the Secularization Narrative in Histories of the Profession." New Literary History 38.4 (Autumn): 607-627.
- Brown, Bill. 2005. "The Dark Wood of Postmodernity." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 120.3 (May): 734–750. [IBIT, Systemstelle(n): asl 001 jc]
- Milich, Klaus J. 2005. "The Divine Comedy of Terror." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 120.3 (May): 879-81.
- During, Simon. 2005. "Toward the Postsecular." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 120.3 (May): 876-77. [Reply to 2005-2-11438; see also 2005-4-6976; 2005-2-11454; 2005-4-7708; 2005-4-7193; 2005-4-6960.]
- Fish, Stanley. 2005 (Jan 7). "One University, Under God?" The Chronicle of Higher Education 51.18: Section C.
- Asad, Talal. 2003. "Introduction: Thinking about Secularism." Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP.
- Blond, Phillip. 1998. Post-secular Philosophy: Between Philosophy and Theology. London: Routledge.
- Appiah, Kwame Anthony. 1997. "Is the 'Post-' in 'Postcolonial' the 'Post-' in 'Postmodern'?" Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives. Eds. Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, and Ella Shohat. Minneapolis. MN: U of Minnesota P. 420-44. [Also in: Critical Inquiry 17.2 (1991 Winter): 336-57. IBIT/ Z all 582.2 ZA 9761]
- McClure, John A. 1995. "Postmodern/Post-Secular: Contemporary Fiction and Spirituality." MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 41.1 (Spring): 141-63.
- Milbank, John. 1992. "The End of Enlightenment: Postmodern or Postsecular?" Concilium (Winter): 57–68. [IBIT: Z the 001 ja ZA 7687]
Links and Quotes
- "Rather than ushering in a new secular age, an age free from the influence of religion, spirituality and contemplation, the evidence seems to indicate that we are actually entering a Post Secular Age: an age wherein religion will necessarily fill up the vacuum created by the ruinous failure of 20th century secular materialism." Dr. Frank Morales, Ph.D. "The Post Secular Age", 2007
- "'I think 9/11 has changed the nature of the debate tremendously,' he said. 'A decade ago people wouldn't say "I'm a Christian" at a dinner party. You would no more speak about your religious belief than you would your sex life. But after 9/11 we no longer think people should be treated differently or given exemption from certain laws because they believe something. Secularists are now saying, "OK, believe in what you like, believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden if you want to, but don't force your beliefs on us or our children, and don't expect preferential treatment." To allow religious organisations more privileges and influence than a political party or trade union, for example, is to distort public debate. People are waking up to the fact it is anomalous.'" Observer, "Believe it or not: the sceptics beat God in bestseller battle", by David Smith on August 12, 2007
- "In January 2004, the Catholic Academy of Bavaria invited Habermas and Cardinal Ratzinger to air their ideas about the moral foundations of society in a public forum. There, Habermas used the term 'post-secular' to describe what modern society ought to be. Secularization, he and others have argued, was first the process, begun in the 17th and 18th centuries, of prying the fingers of the church from government and economy — all the aspects of life in which it had gained control. The idea emerged of the state as a neutral foundation for its citizens and their varied beliefs. But in Europe, secularism then came to mean antireligion. Historically, this antipathy was directed at Catholicism as well as at Protestant churches; Muslim immigration has teased it back to the surface and given it a new target." The New York Time, "Keeping the Faith", By RUSSELL SHORTO, April 8, 2007
- "The idea that secularization is the irreversible wave of the future is still the conventional wisdom in intellectual circles here. They would be bemused, to say the least, at a Dutch relapse into religiosity. But as the authors of a recently published study called De Toekomst van God (The Future of God) point out, organized prayer in the workplace is just one among several pieces of evidence suggesting that Holland is on the threshold of a new era--one we might call the age of 'post-secularization.' In their book, Adjiedj Bakas, a professional trend-watcher, and Minne Buwalda, a journalist, argue that Holland is experiencing a fundamental shift in religious orientation: 'Throughout Western Europe, and also in Holland, liberal Protestantism is in its death throes. It will be replaced by a new orthodoxy.'" The Weekly Standard, "Holland's Post-Secular Future: Christianity is dead. Long live Christianity!", by Joshua Livestro, Volume 012, Issue 16, 01/01/2007
- "LONDON: The pope in Turkey [...] Benedict is there to engage with Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy in the hope of persuading both to join his project of overcoming secularism." International Herald Tribune, "Benedict's post-secular vision", by Phillip Blond and Adrian Pabst, November 29, 2006
- "The real conflict is not between the West and Islam, or even Christianity and Islam. It's been secularism and fundamentalism, irrational blind faith and a rational, logical approach, between innovation and tradition, between past and future, between those who value freedom and those who do not." Taslima Nasrin quoted in The Blanket. A Journal of Protest and Dissent, "Profile: Taslima Nasrin", by Anthony McIntyre, 25 March 2006
- "On the controversial cartoons depicting Muhummad, Beck invoked the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas's distinction between secular and post-secular societies. 'The basic assumption of the secular society is that modernity overcomes religion. In this sense most continental European countries seem to exist as secular states, while Britain and America seem to be post-secular - they see atheism is only one of the belief systems and that religion still is an important voice of humanity.'" The Guardian, Interview, "Risky business: The world is out of control, sociologist Ulrich Beck tells Stuart Jeffries", Saturday February 11, 2006
- "To guarantee equal access to the European public sphere and undistorted communication, the European Union would need to become not only post-Christian but also post-secular. [Footnote 13] Even in his new post-secular openness to the religious 'other' and in his call for the secular side to remain 'sensitive to the force of articulation inherent in religious languages', Jürgen Habermas still implies that religious believers must naturally continue to suffer disabilities in the secular public sphere. 'To date, only citizens committed to religious beliefs are required to split up their identities, as it were, into their public and private elements. They are the ones who have to translate their religious beliefs into a secular language before their arguments have any chance of gaining majority support.' Jürgen Habermas, 'Faith and Knowlwdge', in The Future of Human Nature, Cambridge 2003, 109. Only by holding to a teleological philosophy of history can Habermas insist that 'postsecular society continues the work, for religion itself, that religion did for myth' and that this work of 'translation', or rational linguistification of the sacred, is the equivalent of 'non-destructive secularization' and enlightenment." José Casanova, "Religion, European secular identities, and European integration", Eurozine, 2004-07-29, First published in Transit 27 (2004) in German
- "The word 'postsecular' on the other hand represents little to anyone, because it is recently coined and not much in circulation. The term implies that there might emerge, or already be emerging, a quality of thought that goes beyond the secular, a thinking that celebrates our hard-won democratic rights and freedoms, but which is more open to the spiritual than the secular mind has generally been." Mike King, Towards a Postsecular Society, London Metropolitan University see also: Centre for Postsecular Studies at London Metropolitan University