|Associate Professor of Religion
Departmental Area: Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy
Address: Department of Religion
Matthew Day (Ph.D., Brown 2003).
For the last decade or so, my academic interests tended to flow towards two centers of gravity. First, I was interested in the various links that have connected naturalistic and medical theorizing about religion with the ambition to preserve a modern civic order (e.g., “The Sacred Contagion: John Trenchard, Natural History and the Effluvial Politics of Religion,” History of Religions). Second, I was committed to championing what might be called a “critical turn” in the academic study of religion (e.g., “How to Keep It Real: The Prospects for an Academic Life After Religion,” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion).
However, around the time that the global financial system flirted with self-immolation, I found myself more and more interested in studying what—with an admiring nod to Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes and Bruce Lincoln—might be called capitalist mythologies: the various idiosyncratic portraits of reality that attempt to assemble a contingent set of financial, geographical, sociological, ethical and cosmological observations into an ordered, meaningful whole. As a consequence, my teaching and research is now—and will continue to be in the foreseeable future—more engaged with the fields of maritime history, international political economy, and the history of capitalism than with religious studies.
When I’m not busy being a professional academic, I spend every possible minute messing about in one of my sailboats . . . and dreaming of living as a boatwright in Downeast Maine.
Recent Graduate Seminars
- Marx, Weber, Bourdieu
- The Landscapes of American Capitalism
REL3142 Religion: Self and Society
This course is structured around the principle that we should abandon the habit of treating some discourses or practices as being irreducibly distinct from mundane political and economic life. Rather, we must learn to recognize how the behaviors commonly identified as tokens of “religion” represent a form of politics that has been strategically represented as non-political in nature. Figures discussed will include John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, J.S. Mill and Carl Schmidt.
HUM2937 Humanities Honors Seminar: Religion & Capitalism
Meets LS Humanities and Writing requirements as well as Multicultural X.
REL3142 Religion, Self, and Society
This course is structured around the methodological principle that we should abandon the habit of treating some discourses or practices as being irreducibly distinct from mundane political and economic life. That is to say, the very idea of religion should be viewed as a piece of political rhetoric instead of a substantive term of analysis. Thus, we must learn to recognize how the modern discourse on religion allows otherwise unexceptional behaviors, beliefs, and communities to be strategically represented as fundamentally “set-apart” in order to protect or condemn them.