Religion in

Capstone Senior Seminar

"For the self-conscious student of religion, no datum possesses intrinsic interest..."

Prof. Russell McCutcheon

Office: 211 Manly
Office Hour:
Class Time:
Th 3:30-5:50
Classroom: Manly 210


Interview with Jonathan Z. Smith (2008)
Jonathan Z. Smith on the Definition of Religion
Jonathan Z. Smith at
Jonathan Z. Smith's 2003 Aronov Lecture (Univ. of Alabama)
Jonathan Z. Smith's 2010 American Academy of Religion (AAR) Plenary Lecture: "Reading Religion: A Life in Scholarship"
What is the Phenomenology of Religion?

Do you "Like" JZS?

The Story of Pei Mei (From "Kill Bill Vol. 2")

"A man's got to know his limitations" (conclusion to "Magnum Force," 1973)


This seminar, required of all majors and minors in the Department, uses the work of the University of Chicago's Jonathan Z. Smith--perhaps the most important scholar of religion of his generation--as the way into examining the current state of the academic study of religion. Apart from reading on the history of the study of religion in the US (to establish the context into which Smith makes his contributions), we will also be reading Smith's Imagining Religion and Drudgery Divine as well as chapters from a collection of essays in his honor, Introducing Religion.



Spring 2012 (PDF)

Presentations Schedule (PDF)



Willi Braun and Russell McCutcheon (eds), Introducing Religion: Essays in Honor of Jonathan Z. Smith (Equinox)

Mircea Eliade, The Quest (Univ. of Chicago Press)

Jonathan Z. Smith, Drudgery Divine (Univ. of Chicago Press)

Jonathan Z. Smith, Imagining Religion (Univ. of Chicago Press)

Jonathan Z. Smith, Relating Religion (Univ. of Chicago Press)--this book is provided for all students through the Dept's Amy Lynn Pedersen Endowed Support Fund.


Online Readings

Karen Armstrong, "The True, Peaceful Face of Islam" (Time, Sept. 23, 2001)

D. G. Burnett, Trying Leviathan (chpt. 1; PDF)

Review of Trying Leviathan (published in The New York Observer [2007])

Mircea Eliade, "Preface" to The Encyclopedia of Religion (1986; PDF)

Mircea Eliade, "Author's Foreword" to Patterns in Comparative Religion (1958; PDF)

Joseph Kitagawa, "The History of Religions in America" (PDF)
Joseph Kitagawa, "The History of Religions at Chicago" (PDF)
Nix v. Hedden , 149 U.S. 304 (1893) 149 U.S. 304 (May 10, 1893)

Russell McCutcheon, "Introducing Smith" (PDF)

Russell McCutcheon, "Reinventing the Study of Religion in Alabama" (PDF) posted here.

Jonathan Z. Smith, The Glory, Jest, and Riddle (Dissertation, Yale Univ., 1969; PDF Preface. Intro., and Part 3)

Jonathan Z. Smith, Imagining Religion (Google Books)

Jonathan Z. Smith, "Playful Acts of Imagination" (PDF)
Jonathan Z. Smith, "Religion in the Liberal Arts: Reflections on Teaching" (pages 6-14; PDF)
Jonathan Z. Smith, "The Introductory Course: Less is Better" (PDF)