This course will entertain the ironic possibility that secularism possesses a religious history of its own. This course will also interrogate the commonplace definition of secularism as everything that religion is not by dwelling within a series of philosophical and historical spaces—spaces in which secularism emerged as both an extension of, and alternative to, religious beliefs, practices, and categories. Throughout the semester we will explore how versions of the secular have defined and authorized such things as the meaning of the human subject, the structure of the political collective, the proper code of ethics, the nature of history, experiences of space and time, standards of cruelty and health, the ways and means of the sense perception, as well as sexual and racial differences. The goal of this course is not simply to point out that the ideals of secularism have failed to materialize but, on the contrary, to explore the degree to which its definitional categories and attitudes regarding “religion” have.
This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.
John Lardas ModernAuthor
Franklin and Marshall CollegeInstitution
Private College or University Institution Type
Syllabus Resource Type
Undergraduate Course Class Type
2006 Date Published
Religious Studies, Anthropology, History, Philosophy Discipline
Atheism/Agnosticism/Skepticism, Protestant Religous Tradition
Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Politics/Law/Government, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Race/Ethnicity, Science/Technology/Environment Topics