“Que(e)rying Religion” – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

“Que(e)rying Religion”

Henking Begins Vital Discourse From the pages of its HWS syllabus to a national forum for college educators, one course and its professor at the Colleges are being recognized as seminal in opening vital discourse. Professor of Religious Studies Susan Henking recently had her article “Que(e)rying Religion” published in “Diversity and Democracy,” a publication of the American Association of Colleges and Universities. The article outlined and examined the importance of her course of the same name. “When asked, I describe my Que(e)rying Religion course succinctly: ‘Que(e)rying Religion examines religion and lesbian/gay/queer lives,'” Henking said in the article. “I see my course as an intervention in the academy and in the world that I make for personal, professional, and professorial reasons.” Citing contemporary examples of how “religion and sexuality intersect in American and global culture,” Henking explained in her article that, “Today’s polarized debates about same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay bishops are only the most recent examples of this convergence.” Although, “We in the United States learn to avoid the topics of sex and religion in public discourse” wrote Henking, “To be a citizen, either in the United States or globally, eventually and inevitably means to enter into these debates. To be liberally educated means to do so with the goal of creating shared public discourses fueled by critical thinking. I see it as my responsibility to prepare my students for this task.” “Many consider these subjects to lie outside the realm of reason and therefore outside of the realm of academic inquiry,” Henking wrote. “Yet by focusing academic attention on them, educators can help students understand the roles of religion and sexuality in public and private lives and in the history of determining what qualifies as acceptable public discourse.” She added later in the article that, “By studying these topics [religion and sexuality] together, we expose not only their epistemologies, but also the process of historical creation itself.” Reflecting on discourse about religion and sexuality, Henking wrote that, “Whether or not we teach about these subjects, we educators are embedded in institutions that are fundamentally influenced by the histories of religion and of gender/sexuality,” Henking wrote. “We share these spaces with students who are religious and not; queer, lesbian, gay—and not. These students form a community of inquiry and accountability.” To read more about Henking’s course, click here for the full article. Henking, a member of the faculty since 1988, holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, and her master’s and doctorate from the University of Chicago. She studies and researches feminist approaches and links between religion and sexuality. A recipient of the Faculty Distinguished Teaching Award, she is co-editor of “Mourning Religion,” published by the University of Virginia Press; and “Que(E)rying Religion: A Critical Anthology,” from the Continuum Publishing Group.

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