Courses Designed to Meet General Education
World Cultural Studies
St. Lawrence University
The Cultural Encounters Program
Richardson 207; (315) 379-5131
Religious Studies 248N: Fundamentalism
as Cultural Encounter
The word "fundamentalism"
was coined in the United States in the
early 20th century to describe a certain
kind of Christianity that was opposed
to "modernism" in religion.
It was opposed, in particular, to Darwinian
theories of evolution and favored literal
reading of the Bible. In the 1950's
the term became applied more broadly
to apparently similar tendencies in
other religious traditions, particularly
Islam. Today it is used widely and often
uncritically to identify movements among
Hindus, Muslims, and Jews as well as
Christians. It is often thought to overlap
with religious nationalism or with religious
enthusiasm generally. This seminar will
test a recent hypothesis which suggests
that fundamentalism is a particular,
generic kind of religiousness that represents
a "revolt against the modern age."
This will involve two interrelated tasks:
(1) exploring the usefulness of the
concept "fundamentalism" as
a comparative category and (2) becoming
familiar with the dynamics of cultural
and social change in a variety of settings
including, but not limited to, modern
India, the Islamic world, and North
- Carter, S. The Culture of
Disbelief: How American Law and Politics
Trivializes Religious Devotion
- Esposito, J. The Islamic
Threat: Myth or Reality?
- Hawley, J. Fundamentalism
- Kepel, G. The Revenge of
God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity
and Judaism in the Modern World
- Lawrence, J. and R. Lee. Inherit
- Marty, M. and R.S. Appleby. The
Glory and the Power: The Fundamentalist
Challenge to the Modern World
Items on Reserve:
- Bellah, R. Beyond Belief
- Lessa, W. and E. Vogt. Reader
in Comparative Religion
- Marty, M. and R.S. Appleby (ed.).
Three volumes of The Fundamentalism
Project, abbreviated in the
schedule below as *M & A 1, 2,
- Absolutely faithful preparation
for and attendance at class sessions
and active participation in discussion.
- Weekly submission of a question
for discussion based on the week's
reading. This question is due in my
mailbox by 9 a.m. each Wednesday morning.
My secretary will then collate and
xerox the questions for distribution
by early afternoon. The question may
be one simple sentence, or a little
longer if you need the length to make
your point clear.
- Serving as a discussion leader on
at least two occasions. On each occasion
you will be paired with one other
- Periodic completion of supplementary
reading on which you will report to
the rest of the seminar.
- Completion of a medium-length (15-20
pages) research paper on a topic of
your choice which will serve as the
basis for an oral report during the
last two weeks of class. The paper
is due by 4:30 p.m. on the last day
- A final examination of the take-home
- While a journal is not formally
required for this course, I strongly
advise you to keep one. Indeed, being
part of a seminar course should make
it a natural occurrence: class-time
is for talking and listening to one
another, with brief note-taking; after
class is the time for expanding on
the brief notes, recording and developing
your own thinking .
- Participation, the research paper,
and the final-exam will each count
Tentative schedule of meetings
Class 1: Introduction and Orientation
I. A Basic Survey of Western
Class 2: Bellah, "Religious Evolution"
in his Beyond Belief or in Lessa and
Vogt, Reader in Comparative Religion,
pp. 1-36. Lawrence and Lee, Inherit
the Wind, all.
Class 3: (Interpreting Modernity--short
class) Lawrence, 1-119. PUBLIC LECTURE:
Professor B. Lawrence (Duke University),
"Fundamentalism and Fanaticism."
Class 4: (Christianity): Marty and
Appleby, 37-88. Lawrence, 120-152.
M & A: volume 1: ch. 1, 2, 3
volume 2: ch. 1, 2, 3, 9, 16, 17
volume 3: ch. 2, 3, 4, 15, 23
Class 5: (Judaism): Marty and Appleby,
89-128. Lawrence, 153-188.
M & A: 1: 4
3: 5, 19
Class 6: (Islam): Marty and Appleby,
129-175. Lawrence, 189-226.
M & A: 1: 6, 7, 8, 12
2: 4, 5, 7, 8, 13
3: 6, 7, 8, 10
II. Alternative Approaches
Class 7: (A French Perspective): Keppel,
Class 8: (Fundamentalism and Gender):
Class 9: (Is Islam a Special Case?):
III. Beyond Western Monotheisms
Class 10: M & A: 1: 9, 10, 11,
3: 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 24
Class 11: Marty and Appleby, 175-202.
M & A: 1: 15
IV. Fundamentalism and American
General Wariness of Religious Expression
Class 12: Carter, entire.
V. Student Reports
Class 13, 14.