Hold Your Fire, Coz the Author is Already Dead

authorisdead

I’ve often used Borges’s wonderful little piece, “Borges and I” in classes, as a quick way into the debate on the death of the author.

If you’ve not read it, it’s worth taking a moment to look it over. Tackle Foucault’s essay, or Barthes’s for that matter, on much the same topic too, if you’re ambitious. It’s worth your while, I think. Continue reading

A Response to “Responsible Research Practices,” Part 5: Sources and Interpretations

fairbalancedThis is an installment in an ongoing series on the American Academy of Religion’s recently released draft statement on research responsibilities.
An index of the
complete series (updated as each
article is posted) can be found here.

What should be clear from my previous comments is that I don’t think the draft document simply needs some editing or a few words added to it, in order to make it work. Instead, I think the entire exercise needs to be rethought, form the ground up. But to get there we first need to take the committee seriously and offer the response they solicited to what they’ve put in front of us, if for no other reason than to know how not to tackle such a topic.

Hence this series.

So, we turn to the fourth bullet point:

Picture 22There is much to comment on in this item, so much so that its two sentences really deserve to be elaborated into at least several paragraphs, so that readers understand what’s going on here — i.e., what are the issues and what’s at stake in this particular statement?

After all, modern hermeneutic theory’s been a few centuries in the making, suggesting that a “fair interpretation” is a little more complex to achieve than it here seems.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… Continue reading

No Chili Peppers

shotsfiredThere’s a bit of a controversy brewing in social media over a new review essay published in the our field’s main peer review periodical, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, on the book, On Teaching Religion, edited by Chris Lehrich and containing some of the writings on pedagogy by Jonathan Z. Smith.

The reviewer, a onetime student of Smith’s, reflects on her own experience in his classes, as an undergrad at the University of Chicago in the late-1990s, in order to identify the gaps (i.e., inconsistencies or maybe even contradictions) she now finds, looking back, between the teacher and the writer. Continue reading

It Sticks With You

mgM.G. Proaps graduated from REL in 2013 and then landed in
Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is currently in the application
process for graduate school.

It’s pretty safe to say President Obama gets most things he does scrutinized and what he buys at Christmas time would be no exception. Indeed, among many an article analyzing whether it was Obama’s worst year ever or just worst year as president, what he bought at a bookstore seems like a rather modest topic to do some commentary. As happens when many people do their daily rounds of the news, one article caught my eye: “In Obama’s Book List, Glimpses of his Journey.” It happens that I instantly thought of Roland Barthes. I had the thought of how I should write a blogpost concerning the relationship of how this article is an example of what Barthes had written on what we should not do when discussing the “author.” What I wrote went from one page, to two, and then it hit me, “Lord have mercy,” I said to myself, “You are writing an academic paper! Not a blog post!” Continue reading