Many regard religious experience as the essence of religion, arguing that narratives might be created and rituals invented but that these are always secondary to the original experience itself. However, the concept of "experience" has come under increasing fire from a range of critics and theorists. This Reader presents writings from both those who assume the existence and possible universality of religious experience and those who question the very rhetoric of "experience". Bringing together both classic and contemporary writings, the Reader showcases differing disciplinary approaches to the study of religious experience: philosophy, literary and cultural theory, history, psychology, anthropology; feminist theory; as well as writings from within religious studies. The essays are structured into pairs, with each essay separately introduced with information on its historical and intellectual context. The ultimate aim of the Reader is to enable students to explore religious experience as rhetoric created to authorize social identities. The book will be an invaluable introduction to the key ideas and approaches for students of Religion, as well as Sociology and Anthropology. CONTRIBUTORS: Robert Desjarlais, Diana Eck, William James, Craig Martin, Russell T. McCutcheon, Wayne Proudfoot, Robert Sharf, Ann Taves, Charles Taylor, Joachim Wach, Joan Wallach Scott, Raymond Williams
Table of Contents
Introduction, Russell T. McCutcheon PART ONE: THE BACKGROUND OF EXPERIENCE 1. "Experience" from Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Raymond Williams 2. "Rethinking Experience" from Shelter Blues: Sanity and Selfhood among the Homeless, Robert Desjarlais PART TWO: THE AUTONOMY OF EXPERIENCE 3. "Circumscription of the Topic" from The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, William James 4. "James: Varieties" from Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited, Charles Taylor PART THREE: THE UNIVERSALITY OF EXPERIENCE 5. "Universals in Religion" from Types of Religious Experience: Christian and Non-Christian, Joachim Wach 6. "Bozeman to Banaras: Questions from the Passage to India" from Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras, Diana Eck PART FOUR: THE EXPLANATION OF EXPERIENCE 7. "Emotion" and "Explaining Religious Experience" from Religious Experience, Wayne Proudfoot 8. "Conclusion" from Fits, Trances, & Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James, Ann Taves PART FIVE: THE UNRAVELING OF EXPERIENCE 9. "Experience" from Critical Terms for Religious Studies, Robert Sharf 10. "The Evidence of Experience" from Critical Inquiry, Joan Wallach Scott CONCLUSION: THE CAPITAL OF "EXPERIENCE" 11. William James in Late Capitalism: Our Religion of the Status Quo, Craig Martin SOME AFTERWORDS 12. I Have a Hunch, Russell T. McCutcheon Bibliography Index
Craig Martin is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at St. Aquinas College, New York. He is the author of many works including A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion. Russell T. McCutcheon is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. His major recent publications include Manufacturing Religion, Religion and the Domestication of Dissent and Studying Religion. Leslie Dorrough Smith is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Women's and Gender Studies program at Avila University, Kansas City, Missouri.