2/24/17 Teaching Islam as a Nonspecialist

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Teaching Islam as a Nonspecialist [with the Islamic Studies Workshop]

Friday, February 24, 1:30-3:30 pm, Swift 208

14661_benton.jpgIt is a reality of the profession that educators trained in specific disciplines and with particular bodies of expertise will be called upon, at various stages of their career and to variable extents, to teach material that they do not know well. Young faculty in particular are always being asked to teach outside their specialties in order to help their departments participate in a broad interdisciplinary curriculum and respond to the academic interests of students in an ever-changing world. Teaching as a nonspecialist need not be cause for alarm or anxiety: teaching as a nonspecialist can be refreshing for an educator and offer a model for students in engaging the unfamiliar. Nonetheless, guidance in approaching specific bodies of widely taught material or problems in the study of religion is invaluable.

In this new series, “Teaching X as a Nonspecialist,” faculty who are veterans of making pedagogical gold of (what had once been) unfamiliar worlds will lead sessions drawing on their experiences and insights to aid graduate students in learning to do the same. The inaugural session, led by Prof. Catherine Benton (Lake Forest College), will be of value for all those who imagine that they might find themselves teaching Islam -- an increasing likelihood in our day. Prof. Michael Sells (Divinity School) will respond and help shape our conversation.

In advance of the workshop, please review the attached syllabi of Prof. Benton: evolving iterations of her teaching of "Introduction to Islam." 

Catherine Benton is the Associate Professor of Religion and Chair of Asian Studies at Lake Forest. Her current research interests include oral histories of Muslim women in Khuldabad, Maharashtra, India, a Sufi pilgrimage center in western India, based on field research in India 2003-2015.  She is also working on a project that includes oral histories of Hindu Vedanta nuns in the U.S. and India, and Buddhist nuns in Bhutan.

Michael Sells is the John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature. He studies and teaches in the areas of qur'anic studies; Sufism; Arabic and Islamic love poetry; mystical literature (Greek, Islamic, Christian, and Jewish); and religion and violence. He is the author of eight books and over sixty articles, and he has been the receipient of major academic awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship for the arts and humanities.

See our full Winter 2017 lineup here