Why Should A-Level Geography Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Prof David Horrell, whose first degree was in Geography, asks, “Why should A-Level Geography students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

During one of our family debates over an evening meal recently, we were discussing the relative merits of studying Geography or History (one of my teenage children prefers Geography, the other History). “History’s all done”, one said. “But Geography’s all over the place”, was the response. And, in a sense, it is, since what basically gives Geography its focus as a discipline is the study of how things are distributed over space. That includes such things as the movements of people and goods in international trade, the complex flows of resources between countries, the ways in which climate change will impact differently on different places and the people in them, the differential health outcomes of those who live in diverse locations, urban and rural, and so on.

Study any of these complex spatial interactions and you will quickly bump up against questions of ethics and the impact of religion in the modern world. What are the impacts of multinational corporations in various countries, and do consumers in comparatively richer countries benefit from the exploitation of manual workers in comparatively poorer countries? What kind of rules of trade, taxation, and labour rights would help make these systems just and fair – and who defines what counts as fair? How far are geopolitical conflicts and international disputes driven or exacerbated by the different religious traditions and affiliations of different nations or peoples?

The study of Theology and Religion offers the opportunity to understand and reflect on some of the issues that are fundamental to these contemporary challenges. For example, at the University of Exeter, our first year Theology and Religion students learn about some of the ethical traditions that inform ideas about justice and fairness – and put these into practice by studying something like the fashion industry, and the international movements that take place to bring us the garments we wear.

In studies on blasphemy and offence in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, students have the opportunity to consider how and why contemporary societies treat certain things as sacred, how this changes over time, and how religious and secular bodies clash over such matters. Studying postcolonial theology, to take another example, helps students to see how people from previously colonized countries articulate distinctive perspectives on the world – perspectives from the oppressed and exploited, on the “underside” of empire.

In modules on the Bible, as well as learning about ancient languages, texts, and historical contexts, students come to understand how the Bible continues to be regarded as sacred text and sacred object, how its interpretation continues to be visible and influential even in an increasingly secular country like Britain, how it shapes our views of abled and disabled, and so on. In modules on religious art and architecture, students explore concepts of sacred space and the impact of human activity on urban and rural landscapes.

Each discipline brings its own kind of contribution to understanding the major challenges of the contemporary world. Indeed, if I were trying to resolve our mealtime debate, I’d insist that both History and Geography, time and space, past and present, are crucial if we are to understand the way the world is today. An equally crucial part of understanding our world is to know about the religious traditions that shape ethical decisions, political perspectives, international conflicts, and personal morality.

Studying Theology and Religion – with the ethical and philosophical traditions included under that umbrella – equips graduates with a deep understanding of where ethical traditions come from, how scriptures and religious traditions shape convictions about right and wrong, and about the value and status of the human in the world. This range of skills can be put to excellent use in a wide range of jobs, and graduates in Theology and Religion can make a distinctive contribution, especially in a world where sensitive, informed, and critical understanding of religion is all too rare.

Why Should A-Level English Lit Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Prof Louise Lawrence asks, “Why should A-Level English Literature students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

Doing A-Level English Literature has, through story, prose, poetry and drama, given you some insight into how different writers communicate ambitions, fears, values and worldviews. It would not be an understatement to claim that comprehension of most Western literature (as well as film, art, architecture, music, politics and culture) is impossible without some competence in theology and religion.

A Theology and Religion degree will allow you to study and critically interrogate the Bible as literature: there is tragedy, family tension, incest, adultery, treachery, trauma, political intrigue, nation-building and destruction, violence, satire, adoration, anguish and revenge within its pages. Scholars of Theology and Religion also engage a wide variety of critical lenses through which this and other texts are variously interpreted: literary; historical; postcolonial; feminist; queer; liberation; disability; trauma, and many more. You might explore how novels, films and other media communicate shifting understandings of sexuality, ability, ethnicity and other identities in conversation with religion. You might interrogate how theological and religious discourse conceals, reveals and transmits competing ideas of power, authority, ideology and control.

Theology and Religion also equips you to trace the ways in which Western and postcolonial literatures (and other cultural forms) variously use, respond to and/or subvert biblical themes/images/texts/characters within their own eras and contexts. How, for example, does a first world war poet such as Wilfred Owen reframe the story in Genesis in which God demands Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac in his The Parable of the Old Man and the Young? How does this compare with receptions of the same biblical text in writings of Holocaust survivors, or activists in the anti-Vietnam war movement?

In a Theology and Religion degree you will develop skills as an articulate, creative and compelling author in your own right. In the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter our assessments use a variety of media beyond the traditional essay – though your previous experience in essay-writing for English will certainly stand you in good stead. They include short journalistic pieces or wikis (online postings); extended project pieces comprising creative portfolios (in the past these have included ‘virtual’ letters from historical or contemporary characters; autobiographical pieces; reflective journal entries; and advertisement and artefact commentaries designed for public use); and the research dissertation, an independent project of 10-12,000 words. Recent dissertation topics at Exeter have included religious imagery in Gothic horror; theology in children’s literature; charismatic Christianity and theatre; artistic depictions of Dante’s Divine Comedy; theology in the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen; and postcolonial feminist critiques of the doctrine of atonement.

Theology and Religion affords you opportunities to explore themes of translation, interpretation, concealment, and literature as tool for political liberation. Our graduates go on to a diverse set of careers including journalism, international development, social work, education, the third sector, public policy, law, and the civil service.

 

Why Should A-Level Philosophy Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Dr Jonathan Hill asks, “Why should A-Level Philosophy students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

What attracted you to philosophy? For a lot of people, it’s the prospect of grappling with some of the biggest questions imaginable. What is the meaning of life? What is most valuable in life? Is there life after death? Is there a God? Why is there suffering?

https://physioguru.com/index.php/physiotherapy-blog/research-physiotherapy-blog/50-understanding-research-philosophy-a-primer

In A-Level Philosophy you may have encountered questions like these and want to pursue them in more depth. One of the best ways of doing this is by studying Theology and Religion – because all of those questions are part of Philosophy of Religion, and a degree in Theology and Religion actually offers more opportunity to study them than a degree in Philosophy does. Philosophy is a very broad subject, covering not just these religious and existential questions but also questions about language, politics, ethics, metaphysics, mind, science, and so on. So most Philosophy degrees devote relatively little time to the “big questions”. A Theology and Religion degree is much more focused on them, and it can include a lot of philosophy too.

At the University of Exeter, our BA honours in Theology and Religion offers you the opportunity to study Philosophy of Religion throughout your three years. It ranges from introductory modules in the first year to more in-depth studies of the history of philosophy and theology, as well as the philosophical study of Christian doctrines, in the later years.

What will you get out of this? An obvious answer is: the ability to assess critically the kinds of claims we hear constantly – from religious preachers, from politicians, from newspapers, from our friends – about religion and its relation to society and ourselves. But more than that, you will also gain insight into the thinking of people you disagree with. A degree in Theology and Religion gives you the opportunity to study a wide range of beliefs and understand why people hold them. In doing so, you will develop your ability to empathise with those who hold different views from yourself, and that is an increasingly rare and valuable skill.

Why Should A-Level Sociology Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Dr Susannah Cornwall asks, “Why should A-Level Sociology students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

At a time when over 80 per cent of the world’s population identifies as having a faith, religion is not a topic any thinking person can afford to dismiss. Scholars of theology and religion are particularly interested in context. What difference does social location make to how we read and interpret sacred texts, novels, films, poetry, lyrics, political treatises, and other texts? What motivates people to belong to faith communities? How do expressions of religion vary according to time and culture? Should religious education be taught in state schools? How does religious heritage continue to shape our society today? Is the world becoming increasingly secularized?

Pope Francis leaves an audience with religious from around the world in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Sept. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A degree in Theology and Religion gives you the chance to interact critically with a wide range of texts, drawing on a host of theoretical and methodological approaches. You might explore how queer critical theory influences understandings of sacred texts; or how postcolonial studies shape critical accounts of the relationships between religion, economics and empire; or how feminist approaches prompt re-examinations of religious texts and the Christian theological canon. You might use social-scientific approaches to find out about the cultures in which the earliest biblical texts were produced.

Our students write dissertations on topics such as Muslim identity in modern Britain; uses of religious imagery in alt-right rhetoric; new religious movements; understandings of spirit possession in cross-cultural settings; the new atheism; and the interactions between civil religion, law, economics and the public sphere. They receive training in public speaking and presentation skills that allow them to communicate effectively with a wide range of audiences.

Theology and Religion at Exeter allows you to undertake research that trains you to reflect critically on your own and other contexts. As a discipline, Theology and Religion draws on and interacts with fields such as sociology, anthropology, gender studies, and critical theory. Some of our undergraduate students devise their own research projects, and receive support to go through an ethical approval process and carry out qualitative research. Recent projects have focused on topics such as Christianity and eating disorders; trauma and sexual abuse; religious affiliation among university students; and food insecurity.

Our graduates go on to work in careers such as social work, journalism, international development, education, law and social policy. Consider developing your critical skills with us, and work out what you want to know about our world and what goes on in it.

Why Should A-Level Science Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this post, Prof Christopher Southgate, who originally trained as a research biochemist, asks, “Why should A-Level Science students consider Theology and Religion at university?”

The natural sciences that you have been learning disclose in astonishing detail how the universe works, from the first femtosecond after the Big Bang to its probable end in a ‘heat death’. They also show how life functions, including all the intricate chemical and biological processes that keep your own body flourishing from minute to minute.

A Theology and Religion-based degree at Exeter gives you the chance to explore, in the company of cutting-edge scholars in a whole range of fields, what existence and flourishing mean. Human beings have been wondering this since we first evolved, and human history is in part a history of the narratives by which we have explained our existence and our nature, our selfishness and capacity for love.

In the Department of Theology and Religion at Exeter, consistently highly-rated both for research and student satisfaction, you would have the chance to explore those narratives through the sacred texts of the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all of which answer those great questions in related but different ways. The narratives of our origin and importance as humans lead naturally to the question: ‘how then should I live?’, which we take up through the study of ethics.

Specifically, Exeter offers modules across the Theology and Religion degree programme exploring the relation between the sciences and religious claims. How did modern science emerge from the dominantly religious culture of Renaissance Europe? How does it change Christianity when we start to take science seriously? What does it mean that we are both evolved animals and creatures ‘capable of God’?

In the past that last question has tended to be answered historically by looking at Galileo and Darwin – fascinating case-studies in themselves. But a far more vital case of the interaction of the sciences with theology and ethics comes in relation to climate change. What the science says, why some refuse to believe it, and what it means for how we should live can be explored intensively at a university which, through its association with the Met Office here at Exeter, is one of the leading centres in the world for climate science.

Every year up to a quarter of your study can be outside your home department. So insights from all sorts of subjects can be brought to bear on these fundamental questions of meaning. The rigorous training of thought acquired through science A-Levels is an excellent basis for starting this exploration, and we at Theology and Religion at Exeter would be delighted to have the chance to accompany you on that great search.

Why Should A-Level Economic and Business Studies Students Consider Theology and Religion at University?

It’s a common misconception that you need to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at A-Level in order to take a degree in Theology and Religion at university. In this new blog series, academic staff from the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter encourage A-Level students of other subjects to consider TRS. In this first post, Prof Esther Reed asks, “Why should A-Level Economics and Business Studies students consider Theology and Religion at university?”  

How many company websites have you visited recently? How many have ethics statements? How many businesses that operate in many and diverse countries talk in their sustainability policy statements about generating good relationships with local communities?

Every good business with transnational reach is challenged today to maintain high ethical standards, to listen to the communities amidst and with which it works, and to meet ever-growing consumer demand for information about performance in these respects.

Image: World map color-coded to denote major religion affiliations (as of 2011) CC BY 3.0
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_ groups#/media/File:World_religions_map_en.svg

A degree programme in Theology and Religion could help to prepare you for the workplace and make you a useful employee. In addition to honed research, writing, critical-thinking and presentation skills, Theology and Religion can provide you with a knowledge base and skill set with many applications in businesses – large and small – that need to maintain high ethical and working standards.

A degree in Theology and Religion could help you think about the value of work, wealth creation, financial integrity, the meaning of common good, enterprise, responsible credit and savings, ethics in the corporate culture, social inequality, principles for an economic ethic today, the moral limits of markets, and more. Write a dissertation on economics and responsible business practices today!

Analyse for yourself whether too few businesses are religiously literate today – whether at headquarters or working in small communities. Millions of people around the world profess a religion and are influenced in day-to-day decision making by their faith. A Theology and Religion degree could help you become a business leaders of the future with a difference; a business leader with a basic understanding of major world faiths.

Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter is committed to equipping young business leaders of the future to understand the power of religion, its significant force across the world, how major religions are internally diverse and culturally embedded, and why improved religious literacy is good for business.

Reflections on the AAR/SBL Conference 2017

In October 2017, several academics from the University of Exeter Theology and Religion Department attended the American Academy of Religion Conference in Boston. Three report on their experiences of the conference.

Professor David Horrell

A busy conference and an overnight flight, followed by the train back to Exeter, leaves me feeling a bit tired, but it was, as always, a very worthwhile and enjoyable time. I presented a paper on J.B. Lightfoot’s reading of 1 Peter, in a session with other speakers (Jeanette Hagen, Todd Still, and Tom Wright), and we had an interesting discussion about Lightfoot as biblical scholar, and the similarities and differences with the discipline and context of today. One of the conference highlights for me (and for many others) was a session on “hair in the Greco-Roman world” – in which Helen Bond, Professor at Edinburgh, had her hair done in the elite Roman style by a scholar and hairstylist, alongside various papers – including one by Troy Martin, from St Xavier University in Chicago, arguing that the date of 1 Peter can be ascertained from the author’s reference to hair-styling (1 Pet 3.3): he argued for sometime after 79 CE, and probably between 79 and 81. My meeting also included chairing an editorial board meeting, meeting with a few PhD students, and also with a publisher, to discuss my next two book projects. And Boston was a good place to be, too!

Dr Louise Lawrence

I have just returned from the annual American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Conference (AAR&SBL) in Boston, US. I was on a panel with Dale Martin (Yale) and Dominika Kurek-Chomycz (Chester) in the Luke-Acts and Embodiment Session. Stephen Moore (Duke) incisively (and critically) responded to all three of our contributions. My paper was entitled ‘Coming to her Senses? The Embodiments of a Demon-Possessed Woman in Acts 16’.  I sought to probe sensory dimensions of embodiment in relation to the presentation of the Pythian slave-girl –  who is variously referred to as a ‘belly-talker’ or ‘ventriloquist’ by commentators. I used recent work on sound, embodiment and the female voice which has contended that voice is not just codified by semantic content, but also its sonorous, non-verbal, embodied features to try and bring this character to life.  Classicists and ancient historians have similarly noted how the ancient discipline of physiognomy determined whether people would be judged sane or insane, male or female, honest, marriageable, moribund etc. on account of the embodied sounds they made.  Continuing the embodiment theme I also attended a really useful session on God’s Body: Jewish, Christian and Pagan Images of God in Antiquity.
A real highlight for me though has to be the ‘Consultation on the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the Profession’. This was an exploratory session with a view to forming an advisory board on this theme. The presenters powerfully spoke of their experiences of chronic illness, pain, disability and the ‘ableism’ they perceived as inherent in the SBL conference. Some of the suggestions from speakers included very practical advice including video-guides of the conference space, quiet rooms with dipped lighting and softened acoustics, provisions for personal care if needed, and more accessible publications – book synopses for slow readers, or those who ‘read’ in mixed media (Braille; sign etc.). All participants spoke of the need to cultivate a ‘sense of belonging’ for those with disabilities in an academic conference such as SBL, and also the exhaustion of having to continuously advocate in an academy which often seems to be totally oblivious to embodied (and I would add en-minded) diversity. This is a really important initiative and I really hope it can make headway in making SBL a more inclusive space for those with disabilities.
On a team-Exeter note (!) I caught up with Francesca – which was fantastic. Aside from giving papers, she was also acting as an ‘SBAllie‘  – ‘a presence or resource to support people experiencing harassment of any kind’ at the conference. This role was indicated by the SBAllie badge she wore. This too is a really important initiative. Many people have experienced feeling out of place, excluded or troubled for one reason or another at conferences like SBL, so to have self-identified ‘allies’ who people can talk to confidentially about such issues is a really welcome initiative.
Finally, I attended the editorial board meeting of the Journal for the Study of the New Testament whilst in Boston. I was also honoured to be confirmed as the editor-elect of this journal. I will be taking over as editor from next summer. This is both an exciting and daunting prospect!
The countdown now begins to AAR&SBL 2018 –  in Denver Colorado  . . .

Dr David Tollerton

Later this week I’m travelling to Boston, the home of the American Revolution, to talk about ‘British Values’. This isn’t some belated attempt to return the United States to Her Majesty’s rule, but rather to contribute to a wider discussion about religion, history, and education. The term ‘British values’, first coined amidst counter-radicalisation policy, has in recent years become ubiquitous in UK educational contexts, and in my paper I’ll be addressing how this development interacts with issues of religious diversity, national identity-construction, and perceptions of history. Hearing responses to my ideas from a specifically international audience is something I’m especially looking forward to.

Professor David Horrell is Professor of New Testament Studies and the Director of the Centre for Biblical Studies. Dr Louise Lawrence is Senior Lecturer in New Testament studies. Dr David Tollerton is a lecturer in Jewish Studies and Contemporary Biblical Cultures and the Director of Postgraduate Research for the Theology and Religion department.

Also attending the conference from our department were Dr Brandon Gallaher (Lecturer of Systematic and Comparative Theology), Dr Daniel Pedersen (Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion), and Prof Christopher Southgate (Associate Professor of the University of Exeter).

In anticipation of the AAR/SBL Conference 2017

Over the next few days, several of our department shall be attending the American Academy of Religion Conference in Boston. Three give their anticipations for the conference:

Professor David Horrell:

I am more or less prepared to head off to the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion, a gathering of around 10,000 scholars in Bible and religion that this year takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. The heart of the conference is of course the presentation and discussion of papers, and mine is, thankfully, pretty much ready. But apart from the paper sessions, the conference is an opportunity to attend various editorial board meetings, and to meet with publishers, international (distance) PhD students, and colleagues from around the world working in similar areas. And, I confess, two highlights for me are to share a hotel room with a good mate from PhD days, 25 years ago in Cambridge, and to gather for dinner with a few colleagues who have become good friends over the years.

Professor Christopher Southgate:

As usual I shall be attending the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting in Boston in mid-November. This is held jointly with the Society of Biblical Literature and is an unparalleled opportunity for networking with scholars of religion from all over the world. Job interviews are held there, and there is much courting of the editors from the big publishing houses. This year there is a pre-meeting of the International Society for Science and Religion where some vital contemporary themes in biology will be discussed, in particular the ever-increasing understanding of the importance of cooperation and symbiosis in evolving systems, and the new technology of gene editing known as CRISPR. The ISSR pre-meeting is a really good place to get up to speed with these developments and discuss their implications.

After the pre-meeting the full postmodern smorgasbord of AAR opens up. There are plenaries – in Atlanta in 2015 I had the privilege of hearing ex-President Jimmy Carter, remarkably sharp and lucid at 91 – but more typically delegates are part of their own little micro-communities, each with their own ‘canon’ and ‘hierarchy’. My own typical drop-in spots are the Science, Technology and Religion Group where I am on the Steering Group, and the Religion and Ecology group. But it’s fun to see what other groups are up to – the people who know Schleiermacher backwards, the people whose canon begins and ends with Tillich. Because it is a co-conference with the SBL one can also immerse oneself in Second Corinthians, or come to that the application of texts of many religions to all sorts of politically correct causes. The papers are typically short and often delivered by young scholars seeking to make their way in the field. One drops in and out, and tries not to spend too long in the vast book hall…

I have the honour of chairing the last session of the Science, Technology and Religion Group on the future of the field, and will be fascinated to see where a very diverse constituency thinks it should go.

 

Dr David Tollerton:

Later this week I’m travelling to Boston, the home of the American Revolution, to talk about ‘British Values’. This isn’t some belated attempt to return the United States to Her Majesty’s rule, but rather to contribute to a wider discussion about religion, history, and education. The term ‘British values’, first coined amidst counter-radicalisation policy, has in recent years become ubiquitous in UK educational contexts, and in my paper I’ll be addressing how this development interacts with issues of religious diversity, national identity-construction, and perceptions of history. Hearing responses to my ideas from a specifically international audience is something I’m especially looking forward to.

Professor David Horrell is Professor of New Testament Studies and the Director of the Centre for Biblical Studies. Professor Christopher Southgate is Associate Professor of the University of Exeter. Dr David Tollerton is a lecturer in Jewish Studies and Contemporary Biblical Cultures and the Director of Postgraduate Research for the Theology and Religion department.

Also attending the conference from our department are Dr Louise Lawrence (Senior Lecturer in New Testament studies), Dr Brandon Gallaher (Lecturer of Systematic and Comparative Theology), Dr Daniel Pedersen (Postdoctoral Research Fellow) and Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion).

A reflection on the 2017 Santa Clara lecture on Gendered Theologies and the Common Good

Dr Susannah Cornwall offers her reflections on her opportunity to deliver the 2017 Santa Clara lecture on Gendered Theologies and the Common Good.

Credit: Dr Susannah Cornwall

In October I visited Santa Clara University in San Jose, California (about an hour south of San Francisco) to deliver the Santa Clara lecture on Gendered Theologies and the Common Good. This was part of the 2016-18 Bannan Institute on the Common Good, hosted by the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at Santa Clara.

Credit: Paige Mueller and Chuck Barry

I usually love travelling to give papers and meet other researchers as part of my job, but I had a certain amount of trepidation this time, because I was aware that 13,000 people had signed a petition calling on Santa Clara to rescind their invitation to me on the grounds that I was not a suitable person to be hosted by and speak at a Catholic university. However, I received wonderful hospitality and a warm welcome in Santa Clara, even if the experience of being escorted by a bodyguard and having everyone security-checked before they entered the lecture was somewhat surreal.

Credit: Paige Mueller and Chuck Barry

Questions surrounding gender identity are freighted in Roman Catholic circles at the moment, particularly in the US, and Pope Francis has spoken of his reservations about the “gender agenda” and the way in which it might diminish the theological significance of distinct and divinely-ordained maleness and femaleness. It was great to address a mixed audience including clergy from several dioceses, trans activists, academics, students and others to begin to think through the ways in which gender transition might, for some people, be understood as a way into healing and vocation, not a deviation from them.

Credit: Paige Mueller and Chuck Barry

I also had the privilege of visiting and speaking at several undergraduate classes whilst at Santa Clara. Most undergraduate degrees in the US last four years, and students initially take a portfolio of classes across a range of subject areas before choosing a Major in which to specialize. I was a guest speaker for classes in Gender, Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Europe (a History course); Sexuality and Spirituality in Latinx and Chicanx Literature and Theologies (a Religious Studies course); and LGBTQ Studies: Global Perspectives (an English course) – all of which were also cross-coded with Women’s and Gender Studies. It was great to see the diverse teaching and learning methods there, and to meet such engaged and motivated students.

Credit: Paige Mueller and Chuck Barry

In terms of research dialogues, I had meetings with faculty members from Religious Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, and with the organizing collective for the Gender Justice and the Common Good research institute. They had in common their desire to root their research and teaching in real-world challenges, including how to understand the mission of a Catholic university today (which, for the Ignatian Center, includes witnessing to social justice in the heart of Silicon Valley).

I’ve very grateful to everyone who made the visit possible, particularly Theresa Ladrigan-Whelpley and Susan Chun at the Ignatian Center, and to all those I met and spoke to, from the University, the Diocese of San Jose, and beyond.

To watch the main lecture given by Dr Cornwall, click here.

Dr Susannah Cornwall is a lecturer in the University of Exeter Theology and Religion Department

2017-18 Research Seminars

Here are details of our dept research seminar series for the 2017-18 academic year. There are lots of great speakers and wonderful topics. We’re really looking forward to them!

All seminars (*aside from 29 Sept) are held on Tuesdays in Amory 105, 2.00-3.30pm (1.30pm for drinks).

*Friday 29 September: Ashon T. Crawley (University of Virginia), ‘Just a Closer Walk With Thee: Kenneth Morris’s Sonic Imagination’ (2.30-4.30pm, Streatham Court D)

10 October: Tom Hunt (Newman University), ‘The Influence of the Algerian War (1954-1962) on the Study of Late Antique Christianity’

24 October: Michael Burdett (University of Oxford), ‘The Last Judgement and the Desire for Someone Who Faces Us’

7 November: Louise Lawrence (University of Exeter), ‘Bible and Bedlam: Madness and New Testament Interpretation’

21 November: Jonathan Hill (University of Exeter), ‘In Defence of Inactivity: Boredom and Serenity in Heaven’

5 December: Francesca Stavrakopoulou (University of Exeter), ‘The Troublesome Corpse’

16 January: Jessica Keady (Trinity Saint David), ‘Purity and Performance: The Construction of the Male in the Dead Sea Scrolls’

30 January: Daniel Pedersen (University of Exeter), ‘An Account of “What Actually Happened”: On the Necessity of a Historical Account of the Origins of Sin’

13 February: Catrin Williams (Trinity Saint David), ‘Persuasion through Allusion: Evocations of “Shepherd(s)” and their Rhetorical Impact in John 10’

27 February: Jon Morgan (University of Exeter), ‘An Aid that Fits: Genesis 2 and the Anthropological Machinery of Sex Robots’

13 March: Gordon Lynch (University of Kent), ‘Faith, Child Rescue and Child Abuse: Re-visiting Catholic Child Migration Schemes to Australia, 1946-1956’

27 March: Megan Warner (University of Exeter), ‘On Trauma and Bible and on Bible and Trauma’

1 May: Susannah Cornwall (University of Exeter), ‘Virtue, Welfare and Health: Modelling a Spiritual Care Framework for NHS Gender Clinics in England’

15 May: Susan Gillingham (University of Oxford), ‘Writing a Reception History Commentary: Aims, Methods and Resources’

29 May: Paul Fiddes (University of Oxford), ‘Wisdom and the World in Christian Theology?’