Om Teaching Durkheim
Emile Durkheims work on religion occupies a central place in religious studies classrooms today. At the undergraduate level, Durkheim is widely taught in large Introduction to Religion courses and in upper division seminars in theory and method. His work is also taught in graduate Religious Studies departments of all stripes, from those grounded in the social sciences to those rooted in phenomenology and history of religions. This diverse classroom use within religious studies is reproduced in neighboring disciplines, where Durkheims work on religion is regularly introduced in courses in sociology, anthropology, history, and philosophy, as well as in such interdisciplinary programs as Jewish studies and womens studies. This volume is designed as a resource for teachers and students of Durkheim on religion, providing practical advice about productive ways to approach central texts and difficult pedagogical issues. It represents diverse points of views and a range of disciplines. The essays in Part One address large issues arising from the whole of Durkheims work on religion, such as what material to assign in what sorts of courses, and on how to present the material to students of varying background and motivation. Part Two turns to context, with essays assessing the available English translations of the Elementary Forms of Religious Life, and exploring how to teach the historical, critical, and biographical framework of Durkheims work on religion. Part Three takes up questions of how to incorporate Durkheims work in courses concerned with ethics, gender studies, and social theory.