Disciplines of interest: Literature, Art History
Religion is a sacred, personal, unspeakable subject. It also happens to affect our laws, learning, and social life. Religion is, despite popular belief, a part of the mundane everyday.
I learned this from reading McGuire in Theorizing Religion last semester. I used to think religion was private and sacred. However, religion historically was not exclusive to the sacred; it was also a part of the quotidian. Take, for example, Dante’s Divine Comedy. In a class about his work, I learned that he did not have a divided concept of Christianity, politics, and academics the way we do today. He did not obsessively compartmentalize religion, government, and education. His poetry was valuable in illustrating how these categories overlap and influence each other (for better or for worse). Sometimes, those overlaps are visible in our own society.
It is clear that religion influences our politics and law, but it also affects how we look at literature, vernacular language, history, and art. Regardless of personal beliefs, it affects how we look at other people and how other people look at us. It affects fashion, diets, and moral decisions. We cannot run away from it but we also do not know how to talk about it. These texts are scholarly and poetic, mundane and fantastical, historical and contemporary. It is a good place to start.
Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life / Meredith B. McGuire
The Divine Comedy / Dante Alighieri