Religious Feminisms: an Introduction
New York, NY 10027
In 1982, the New York Times editorial page published an essay entitled “Is God a Feminist?”, which noted the flood of feminist religious writing and the rapid increase of women enrolled in theological institutes. “Across the board,” the author argued, “from biblical scholarship and religious history to ethics and theology, our religious heritage is being scrutinized, reinterpreted and in some cases overthrown by a number of writers who, from different points of view, agree that the common enemy is patriarchal religion.” While some have argued that the monotheistic God of Abraham is beyond repair—and should be replaced by The Goddess who ruled the spiritual world of our primordial past—many others have looked to texts, legal traditions, and hermeneutic practices to foster feminist forms of religion. How and why did these transformations of various traditions occur? What interventions and contributions do religious feminists continue to make?
In this course we will delve into the history, strategies, and tensions present within attempts to articulate feminist forms of religion, focusing on Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities. Students will dip their toes into the broad range of religious feminisms by examining select works from modern theologians, activists, and artists. We will address the course material in a thematic way, looking for points of continuity between various attempts while also attending to the specific formations of each tradition. Looking at figures ranging from Rachel Adler to Merlin Stone, Judith Plaskow, Mary Daly, Leila Ahmed, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Blu Greenberg, and Fatima Mernissi among more contemporary women, we will ask: How do feminist interpretations of religion contend with the patriarchy seemingly inherent in their traditions? To what extent have feminists from different backgrounds shared strategies, or conversely, found themselves at odds? And what does the study of this experience teach us about both religion and feminism?
Course ScheduleThursday, 6:30-9:30pm
September 13 — October 04, 2018