Theology and Its Publics

Workshop | March 9 | 9 a.m.-5 p.m. | 3335 Dwinelle Hall

 Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion

This is a multi-day workshop.

The conference will compass two distinct, though often converging, lines of inquiry: first, the diverse publics to which theological discourse is addressed, and second, the theological dimensions inherent to various forms that the public and publicity can take.

The first line of inquiry begins with the recognition that the addressee of theological discourse is not only a specific person or people, but also a context of circulation, conceived as a public of readers, listeners, or viewers. In this regard, we hope to investigate how theologies take shape within mediated contexts—linguistic, discursive, and technological—that give shape to contemporary publics. How do theologies adopt characteristics of the publics to which they are addressed? How do the conditions of address shape the form and content of the theological imagination? What theological significance comes to be assigned to a “public” more generally?

The second line of inquiry turns the question around. If different theologies imagine different publics, this suggests that the “public,” and the social, political, and interpretive norms that constitute it, might well depend on theological traditions. How have theological concepts provided the scaffolding for the linguistic, discursive, and aesthetic protocols that underpin distinct public forms?

In order to reorient theological study, the Berkeley Public Theology Program supports a broad and comparative investigation of the ways this study happens, past and present, in the U.S. and abroad. This investigation includes two annual workshops on comparative approaches to theology, with participants drawn from a diverse group of institutions. Theology and the Public University is the second of these workshops; information on the first, Vernacular Theologies, is available on our website.

These workshops lay the foundation for a major international conference to be held in 2018-2019. The conference will convene leading scholars and intellectuals from across the world in order to open American higher education to the variety of ways that theology might be done in different political, legal, and religious settings.

Co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities.

 All Audiences, Faculty, Staff, Students - Graduate, Students - Undergraduate

 All Audiences, 510-642-1328