Taylor Petrey, “Mormonism and the Critical Study of American Religion”

RELG 490, Kalamazoo College 2021

This course considers important methodological issues that influence the study of religion. Using a variety of theoretical approaches, and addressing some of the most pressing issues in the field, this course examines one religious tradition: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Looking at this single tradition from different lenses, we will consider the role that theory plays in analysis, consider the on-going influence of classical theories of religion, and discuss major topics in the field today.

Course Goals:

Successful students in this course will learn to:

  • Be familiar with different methodologies scholars use to study religion
  • Be able to identify the major theorists that influence contemporary approaches to the study of religion
  • Understand the reasons that scholars have come to different conclusions on the topic
  • Be able to articulate verbally and in writing the positions that scholars have advocated
  • Reflect on one’s own intellectual frameworks for evaluating religion

Covered Topics Include:

Secularization; Mormonism and Racialization; Post- and De-colonial Approaches; Gender Studies and the History of Sexuality; Lived Religion; Media Studies; Sociological Approaches

Required Texts:

  • David Walker, Railroading Religion
  • Peter Coviello, Make Yourselves Gods
  • Taylor Petrey, Tabernacles of Clay
  • Joanna Brooks, Mormonism and White Supremacy