Mark S. Cladis

Mark S. Cladis is the Brooke Russell Astor Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University. He is the author of Public Vision, Private Lives (Oxford University Press, 2003; paperback edition, Columbia University Press, 2006) and is currently completing a book titled, In Search of a Course: Reflections on Pedagogy and the Culture of the Modern Research University.

Posts by Mark S. Cladis:

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

The good, the bad, and the ugly

It is worthwhile to pause and ask why so many educators are committed to the suspension of religious identity in the classroom. After all, educators ordinarily encourage their students to bring to their studies a deep engagement with the material—that is, to bring their perspectives, experiences, commitments, and passions to the topics and issues at hand. But what about students’ religious commitments and perspectives? Why are these seen as a special case? Why ask students to bracket off religious beliefs from the stock of all their other beliefs, especially given the epistemological and psychological implausibility of achieving such bracketing? To some extent, students can express their religious perspectives by other means, including covert ones. Yet from an educational point of view, do we want our students to suppress the actual reasons (in this case, the religious reasons) that tacitly support their perspectives in the classroom? Can we justify placing this particular burden on students with religious perspectives?

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Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Nothing special about religion

It is clear from the ongoing discussion about “Religion in the public sphere” that we live in an age when many inside and outside of the academy are thinking and talking about religion—specifically about religion in public and whether it ought to be there. Many are turning their attention to the relation among religion, law, and politics, now that the once-common theories about the inevitable march of (what is commonly understood as) secularization have been mostly discredited. Such theories were based on an erroneous interpretation of the Enlightenment as a monolithic force that discounted religion, and on the view that modernity would necessarily usher in secularism, that is, launch an age in which religion had no significant standing. Yet most have come to realize that religion as an intellectual, cultural, and political force is not, in fact, waning on the globe. To help us think about religion in the public and political landscape, I propose a model—what I call Public Landscape as Varied Topography—in which there is room for various socio-political stances, religious or otherwise. […]

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