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Hagiology Seminar

Call for Proposals

We invite proposals on Teaching the “Saints”: Hagiology as Pedagogy

When it comes to utilizing hagiographical media in the classroom, the teacher is faced with a number of questions. Some of these questions concern the material directly: What media count as hagiographical? How do they construct the saint(s) and their community? And how can we read (or see) embodied sanctity in our sources? Other questions are more theoretical: In using terms like “saint” and “hagiography,” especially in a comparative context, are we imposing the hegemony of (Western?) Christian categories and thus flattening the distinctions of media produced in and for diverse religious, cultural, and historical contexts? Or, is there an analytical purchase in employing a common language and taxonomies? What other taxonomies might be employed? Still further questions center on the craft of teaching: What are “best practices” for introducing hagiographical material and questions into the classroom? What sorts of methods and assignments are particularly generative for hagiological analysis? What do we want students to learn from their encounter with “saints” and how do we assess it?

Inspired by these questions, we are interested in papers that address the teaching of hagiology. Work that engages the following topics is particular welcome:

  • Application of pedagogical theories
  • Comparative and/or transdisciplinary methods
  • Non-Western/Non-Christian media and approaches
  • Critiques of conceptional underpinnings – e.g., “saint,” “sanctity,” “hagiography”
  • Development of best practices
  • Innovative assignments (including assessment)
  • Collaboration in course design and/or teaching

We hope to produce a digital collection of resources from our collective work this year. To this end, “papers” can take the form of pedagogical tools, methodologies, syllabi, and other useful artifacts.

The session will be exploratory and collaborative in nature, as it seeks to practice a style of conference preparation and presentation that utilizes comparative practices and innovates along those lines.

Presenters will share their "papers" with fellow panelists prior to the conference date and participate in a few rounds of collaboration with comparative methods. We hope to help presenters be active in creating the best version of their panel by facilitating cross-cultural and interdisciplinary work, while assessing its value as we proceed. We hope the meta discussion of methodology will comprise a portion of the session.

Statement of Purpose

This seminar is dedicated to exploring the “hagiographical” as a category that transcends the particular contextual boundaries of religious traditions, while functioning as a focused and sustained site of collaboration, pedagogical exploration, and theoretical foundation for better refining the Study of Religion. It takes up the question of “hagiography,” and, using a comparative method, interrogates its broad analytical utility. By inviting a wide-range of traditions and types of scholarship (textual, materially-oriented, ritually-conceived, oral, historical, and contemporary) into a diverse scholarly conversation and collaborative community, we seek to challenge the normative, Christian rendering of the term. We place the growing need for cross-fertilization at the center of our methodological approach, building it into our theme and function. Hagiology is an inquiry that has been marked by a range of interpretive strategies and vectors of influence, from early practitioners and emulators, to authors and compilers, to commentators and historians, to societies and contemporary practitioners, to re-imagined historical prominence. It has finally emerged as a dynamic area for comparative studies. Ultimately, this seminar will foster dialogue among scholars from a range of institutions and intellectual traditions. Its aim is to use the collaborative and comparative methods to resituate hagiology within the current religious studies context, and to explore how this field can best support, articulate, and inform the broader field regarding the importance of doing Hagiology in a productive manner that is commensurate with the prevalence of its material forms.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members