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The Seminar Room

The Seminar Room

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The Seminar Room
The Seminar Room

The Seminar Room

The Seminar Room

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About Us

“The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright and Sean Capener.The format and title of the podcast are meant to reflect “the seminar room” in which grad students encounter and reflect upon texts in their respective graduate programs. Our goal is to provide an online seminar room in which contributors may debate texts and ideas in a way that opens up further discussion with our listeners.Episodes are released every other week on Saturdays. In addition to our podcast recordings, our blog contains supplementary introductions to and reflections on the texts, and links to each text we discuss. Visit the blog at www.tsrpodcast.comIf you want to contact us you may find us here:Gmail: seminarroomcast@gmail.comTwitter: https://twitter.com/TheSeminarRoom

Latest Episodes

American Academy of Religion in Review 2016

It’s a new year and a new episode from The Seminar Room! After taking a break for the Fall term, Joel and Lucas return with a recap of their experience at the 2016 American Academy of Religion conference in San Antonio.

102 MIN2017 JAN 18
Comments
American Academy of Religion in Review 2016

Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences

Episode 11, in which Joel and Lucas discuss an essay by Jacques Derrida and make the case for Derrida’s relevance in religious studies. Lucas explains why everyone should read more philosophy AND try to understand it. Joel explains why this essay by Derrida kind of puts a damper on a lot of religious studies scholars’ claims to post-structuralism.

99 MIN2016 AUG 28
Comments
Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences

Fences and Neighbors; The Devil in Mr. Jones

It’s Episode 10! Lucas and Joel tackle two essays by J.Z. Smith (“Fences and Neighbors” and “The Devil in Mr. Jones”) from his collection _Imagining Religion_. Highlights include: Considering whether or not religious studies scholars should have to read philosophy before engaging in theory and method debates; a discussion of the use or incompatibility of natural scientific concepts for religious studies; Joel makes Lucas uncomfortable with references to Billy Graham; and Joel reveals his impression of Dr. Nick from the Simpsons he didn’t know he had.

101 MIN2016 JUL 21
Comments
Fences and Neighbors; The Devil in Mr. Jones

Critical Theory of Religion v. Critical Religion

The Seminar Room returns after a six-week hiatus! For Episode 9, we tackle a recent editorial published in the April 2016 issue of the journal _Critical Research on Religion_. In many ways, the editorial sums up the issues addressed in the podcast thus far. What are the limits of the “critical religion” approach? What are its blindspots? What necessary critiques does it provide? “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright and Sean Capener. The format and title of the podcast are meant to reflect “the seminar room” in which grad students encounter and reflect upon texts in their respective graduate programs. Our goal is to provide an online seminar room in which contributors may debate texts and ideas in a way that opens up further discussion with o...

78 MIN2016 JUN 5
Comments
Critical Theory of Religion v. Critical Religion

On the Genealogy of Morals

Lucas was sick for a while and Sean was swamped with the end of his first year approaching, so we departed from our normal biweekly schedule. But we’re back! This week Joel and Lucas discuss Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals (1887). But before they dive into the text, they give a recap of their respective AAR regional meetings (Midwest and Western). Joel explains why Northern Indiana such a fascinating place to visit for a scholar of religion, and Lucas describes a “lively” business meeting. In discussing the text, they get into what “valuation” means for Nietzsche, why goodness, badness, and evil are not natural, and why Nietzsche loves ascetic priests so much and thinks Wagner and Schopenhauer are inauthentic hipsters. Take that hipster artist-philosophers who love to quote Nietzsche! “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and me...

-1 s2016 APR 17
Comments
On the Genealogy of Morals

Diagnosing Religion v. Religious Criticism, Secular Critique, and the ‘Critical Study of Religion’: Lessons from the Study of Islam

Lucas and Joel were on Spring Break this week while Sean was swamped with his semester steadily approaching finals and unable to join in this time. But there was still plenty to talk about! It’s a twofer this week as Joel and Lucas tackle Robert Segal’s 1998 essay “Diagnosing Religion” and a more recent response to Segal’s point of view and central “doctor/patient” metaphor from Noah Salomon and Jeremy Walton. Their essay is the last in the 2012 Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies and is titled “Religious Criticism, Secular Critique, and the ‘Critical Study of Religion’: Lessons from the Study fo Islam.” Joel and Lucas get into the insider/outsider distinction in RS, the interesting relationship between “critical religion” and “critical theory,” and wonder whether the kind of “scientism” advocated by some in religious studies has a colonialist tone. Spoiler alert: it does. “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholar...

105 MIN2016 MAR 26
Comments
Diagnosing Religion v. Religious Criticism, Secular Critique, and the ‘Critical Study of Religion’: Lessons from the Study of Islam

The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

The long anticipated episode on Émile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912) finally happens in Episode 6. It was AAR Judgment Day when we recorded (aka the final deadline for paper and panel submissions to the American Academy of Religion’s national conference in November), so Sean and Lucas reward themselves with a little boxed wine. Joel and Lucas disagree over the similarities and dis-similarities between Durkheim and Freud, the status of “society” as a concept is discussed, and Sean’s WiFi cuts out in an electrical storm leaving Joel and Lucas to bring it home. We promise Sean will be on for an entire episode soon. “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright and Sean Capener. The format and title of the podcast are meant to...

103 MIN2016 MAR 12
Comments
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

The long-anticipated appearance of Sean Capener finally happens here in Episode 5, where he, Lucas, and Joel discuss Max Weber’s _The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism_ (1904/5). They discuss the differences between Weber and other genealogical accounts of religion, Weber’s philosophical inheritance, and his occupation of a liminal space among reductive, interpretive, descriptive, and genealogical accounts of religion. Sean was traveling, so he bounces a little early, but Joel and Lucas bring it home with a discussion of how Weber fits into the discussions in the first four episodes of the podcast. “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright, and Sean Capener. The format and title of the podcast are meant to reflect “the seminar room” i...

-1 s2016 FEB 27
Comments
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Experience

In Episode IV, An Ineffable Hope, Lucas and Joel discuss “Experience” by Robert Sharf, a chapter fromCritical Terms for Religious Studies (1998). They rehash the genealogical critique of the colonial history of“pillar” categories in religious studies and wonder why Sharf seems to put the blame on the colonized rather than the colonizers. Lucas questions the force of the critique from another angle, the presumed relationship between specific forms of thought (e.g. subject-object epistemology) and colonial-political agendas and points out that there’s only a problem with discourse about mystical experience if oneassumesdiscourse about mystical experience isa problem. Joel rants again about recourse to scientific naturalism in religious studies and points out that Sharf might fall victim to his own critique of so called “mirror of nature” (subject-object) epistemology when Sharfwritesthat alien abductions can’t be studied because they have no real object to which they refer. He...

84 MIN2016 FEB 13
Comments
Experience

On the Jewish Question

Lucas and Joel discuss Karl Marx’s “On the Jewish Question” from 1843 in the second of two episodes recorded together in Highland Park, CA over the holiday break. They consider whether Marx is committed to thinking that slavery is only unethical in capitalism or feudalism, what importance religion has, if any, to Marx’s understanding of economy and political structures, and whether Feuerbach and Marx ultimately have the same or different projects. “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright and Sean Capener. The format and title of the podcast are meant to reflect “the seminar room” in which grad students encounter and reflect upon texts in their respective graduate programs. Our goal is to provide an online seminar room in which contributors may...

55 MIN2016 JAN 30
Comments
On the Jewish Question
the END

Latest Episodes

American Academy of Religion in Review 2016

It’s a new year and a new episode from The Seminar Room! After taking a break for the Fall term, Joel and Lucas return with a recap of their experience at the 2016 American Academy of Religion conference in San Antonio.

102 MIN2017 JAN 18
Comments
American Academy of Religion in Review 2016

Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences

Episode 11, in which Joel and Lucas discuss an essay by Jacques Derrida and make the case for Derrida’s relevance in religious studies. Lucas explains why everyone should read more philosophy AND try to understand it. Joel explains why this essay by Derrida kind of puts a damper on a lot of religious studies scholars’ claims to post-structuralism.

99 MIN2016 AUG 28
Comments
Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences

Fences and Neighbors; The Devil in Mr. Jones

It’s Episode 10! Lucas and Joel tackle two essays by J.Z. Smith (“Fences and Neighbors” and “The Devil in Mr. Jones”) from his collection _Imagining Religion_. Highlights include: Considering whether or not religious studies scholars should have to read philosophy before engaging in theory and method debates; a discussion of the use or incompatibility of natural scientific concepts for religious studies; Joel makes Lucas uncomfortable with references to Billy Graham; and Joel reveals his impression of Dr. Nick from the Simpsons he didn’t know he had.

101 MIN2016 JUL 21
Comments
Fences and Neighbors; The Devil in Mr. Jones

Critical Theory of Religion v. Critical Religion

The Seminar Room returns after a six-week hiatus! For Episode 9, we tackle a recent editorial published in the April 2016 issue of the journal _Critical Research on Religion_. In many ways, the editorial sums up the issues addressed in the podcast thus far. What are the limits of the “critical religion” approach? What are its blindspots? What necessary critiques does it provide? “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright and Sean Capener. The format and title of the podcast are meant to reflect “the seminar room” in which grad students encounter and reflect upon texts in their respective graduate programs. Our goal is to provide an online seminar room in which contributors may debate texts and ideas in a way that opens up further discussion with o...

78 MIN2016 JUN 5
Comments
Critical Theory of Religion v. Critical Religion

On the Genealogy of Morals

Lucas was sick for a while and Sean was swamped with the end of his first year approaching, so we departed from our normal biweekly schedule. But we’re back! This week Joel and Lucas discuss Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals (1887). But before they dive into the text, they give a recap of their respective AAR regional meetings (Midwest and Western). Joel explains why Northern Indiana such a fascinating place to visit for a scholar of religion, and Lucas describes a “lively” business meeting. In discussing the text, they get into what “valuation” means for Nietzsche, why goodness, badness, and evil are not natural, and why Nietzsche loves ascetic priests so much and thinks Wagner and Schopenhauer are inauthentic hipsters. Take that hipster artist-philosophers who love to quote Nietzsche! “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and me...

-1 s2016 APR 17
Comments
On the Genealogy of Morals

Diagnosing Religion v. Religious Criticism, Secular Critique, and the ‘Critical Study of Religion’: Lessons from the Study of Islam

Lucas and Joel were on Spring Break this week while Sean was swamped with his semester steadily approaching finals and unable to join in this time. But there was still plenty to talk about! It’s a twofer this week as Joel and Lucas tackle Robert Segal’s 1998 essay “Diagnosing Religion” and a more recent response to Segal’s point of view and central “doctor/patient” metaphor from Noah Salomon and Jeremy Walton. Their essay is the last in the 2012 Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies and is titled “Religious Criticism, Secular Critique, and the ‘Critical Study of Religion’: Lessons from the Study fo Islam.” Joel and Lucas get into the insider/outsider distinction in RS, the interesting relationship between “critical religion” and “critical theory,” and wonder whether the kind of “scientism” advocated by some in religious studies has a colonialist tone. Spoiler alert: it does. “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholar...

105 MIN2016 MAR 26
Comments
Diagnosing Religion v. Religious Criticism, Secular Critique, and the ‘Critical Study of Religion’: Lessons from the Study of Islam

The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

The long anticipated episode on Émile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912) finally happens in Episode 6. It was AAR Judgment Day when we recorded (aka the final deadline for paper and panel submissions to the American Academy of Religion’s national conference in November), so Sean and Lucas reward themselves with a little boxed wine. Joel and Lucas disagree over the similarities and dis-similarities between Durkheim and Freud, the status of “society” as a concept is discussed, and Sean’s WiFi cuts out in an electrical storm leaving Joel and Lucas to bring it home. We promise Sean will be on for an entire episode soon. “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright and Sean Capener. The format and title of the podcast are meant to...

103 MIN2016 MAR 12
Comments
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

The long-anticipated appearance of Sean Capener finally happens here in Episode 5, where he, Lucas, and Joel discuss Max Weber’s _The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism_ (1904/5). They discuss the differences between Weber and other genealogical accounts of religion, Weber’s philosophical inheritance, and his occupation of a liminal space among reductive, interpretive, descriptive, and genealogical accounts of religion. Sean was traveling, so he bounces a little early, but Joel and Lucas bring it home with a discussion of how Weber fits into the discussions in the first four episodes of the podcast. “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright, and Sean Capener. The format and title of the podcast are meant to reflect “the seminar room” i...

-1 s2016 FEB 27
Comments
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Experience

In Episode IV, An Ineffable Hope, Lucas and Joel discuss “Experience” by Robert Sharf, a chapter fromCritical Terms for Religious Studies (1998). They rehash the genealogical critique of the colonial history of“pillar” categories in religious studies and wonder why Sharf seems to put the blame on the colonized rather than the colonizers. Lucas questions the force of the critique from another angle, the presumed relationship between specific forms of thought (e.g. subject-object epistemology) and colonial-political agendas and points out that there’s only a problem with discourse about mystical experience if oneassumesdiscourse about mystical experience isa problem. Joel rants again about recourse to scientific naturalism in religious studies and points out that Sharf might fall victim to his own critique of so called “mirror of nature” (subject-object) epistemology when Sharfwritesthat alien abductions can’t be studied because they have no real object to which they refer. He...

84 MIN2016 FEB 13
Comments
Experience

On the Jewish Question

Lucas and Joel discuss Karl Marx’s “On the Jewish Question” from 1843 in the second of two episodes recorded together in Highland Park, CA over the holiday break. They consider whether Marx is committed to thinking that slavery is only unethical in capitalism or feudalism, what importance religion has, if any, to Marx’s understanding of economy and political structures, and whether Feuerbach and Marx ultimately have the same or different projects. “The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison, Lucas Scott Wright and Sean Capener. The format and title of the podcast are meant to reflect “the seminar room” in which grad students encounter and reflect upon texts in their respective graduate programs. Our goal is to provide an online seminar room in which contributors may...

55 MIN2016 JAN 30
Comments
On the Jewish Question
the END

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