Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Week in Links (11/14-11/20)

Something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately is the theories and practices of teaching the history and literature of religion in a secular university to students who may range from being atheists to considering themselves culturally part of a faith tradition to those who come from a robust religious background. It poses a very different set of challenges in a literatures and cultures department where students don't come in expecting to talk about religion (such as a department of Spanish and Portuguese) versus in a literatures and cultures department that is de facto also the religious studies department that attracts many students who are interested in learning the academic history of their own dearly-held faith tradition (as is the Near Eastern Studies department where I earned my PhD (though not all of them do have that same religious-studies kind of focus)). I've not formulated my thoughts well enough yet to write about it, but I was interested to see this in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week:

Finding Empathy in Religious Studies

There is a lot of really good, comprehensive work in progress on the Arabic inscriptions of Syro-Palestine. It's heartening to see the corpus continuing to expand through new discoveries and yielding additional perspectives that could alter the standard historical narratives:

Israeli Experts Decode Only Arabic Crusader Inscription Ever Found

The Lewis Chessmen are in New York. (And I was quite excited to learn that "berserk" has a similar derivation to that of the word "assassin." Read on to see.):

The Game of Kings at the Cloisters

And now for something completely different. I'm all for biopics of the great Orientalists, but this seems like it could go very badly wrong. Gertrude Bell: Tomb Raider, anyone? Just as long as Brad doesn't co-star as Lawrence:

Angelina Jolie, Ridley Scott Tackle Gertrude Bell Biopic

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