|Associate Professor of Religion
Departmental Area: Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy
Address: Department of Religion
Matthew Day (Ph.D., Brown 2003).
There is a rule-of-thumb among sailors: only step up into your lifeboat. That is to say, one should never abandon ship unless she is sinking beneath your feet.
The first decade of my professional life was spent chipping away at two blocks of scholarship. At one level, 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. At another, I was committed to championing what might be called a “critical turn” in the academic study of religion. I even cared enough about the field to serve as the Editor of Method and Theory in the Study of Religion for a little while.
All of that changed around 2011, when I climbed up and into my lifeboat. My teaching and research is now—and will continue to be in the foreseeable future—more engaged with the history of capitalism, or the associated fields of maritime history and international political economy, than with “religious studies.”
I spend every possible minute messing about in one of my sailboats.
Recent Graduate Seminars
- Marx, Weber, Bourdieu
- The Landscapes of American Capitalism
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, religion should not be viewed as a substantive term of analysis but as a piece of political rhetoric—a way of strategically representing some all-too-political aspects of collective life as non-political. After exploring the history of political theorizing about the proper role of religion in collective life, we turn to examine two case studies which probe the socio-taxonomic problems that the American Constitution creates by enshrining the “free exercise of religion” in the First Amendment. Fulfills Liberal Studies- Cultural Practice requirement.
REL4190 Seminar: Religion & Culture: Against Postmodernism
RLG5195 Against Postmodernism
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.