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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

Trauma, the Bible and American Identity (3 cr)
Laura Carlson Hasler
JSTU-J 303 Arts & Humanities Topics in Jewish Studies (30356)/ REL-A 300 (32078)
TR 9:30-10:45 (SY 001) 

This course analyzes colonial hegemony over nations and trauma inflicted on bodies within the Bible and its ancient context and within the legacy of its interpretation in American history. Special attention will be paid to the Bible within discourses about American slavery, and America as a colonized and colonizing political power. The first unit of the course interfaces critical biblical narratives of national "bodies" (exodus, conquest, exile) with their appropriation within expressions of American identity. The second unit will address traumatized and colonized individual bodies in various forms: enslaved bodies, female bodies, and the bodies of " foreigners," and their interpretation in these contexts. The course will culminate in a final project, analyzing a contemporary piece of American biblical interpretation of the student's choosing. This piece of interpretation could be from an academic (e.g. an essay or op-ed), religious (e.g. a sermon) or popular context (e.g. an album or film). All projects must address the question: What motifs from the Bible and what strategies of biblical interpretation are being deployed here? How do these methods draw on particular American traditions of interpreting pain?

Selected Readings: R. Thomas, Claiming Exodus: A Cultural History of Afro-Atlantic Identity 1774-1903 (2013); J. Byrd, Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution (2013); P. Gutjahr, An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States, 1777-1880 (1999); D. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness (1993); M. Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006); E. Glaude, Exodus! Religion, Race, and Nation in Early Ninteenth-Century Black America (2000).