Religion in the Composition Classroom

A Pragmatic Approach

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About the Book

Students in first-year composition courses across the country discuss and write about touchy subjects like race, class, gender and religion. This book focuses on the latter, offering a pragmatic way of working with religious belief as a subject of study in the secular setting of the university classroom. Based on the work of American pragmatists like Charles Peirce, William James and John Dewey, this approach considers what religious belief does in the world—the tangible consequences of believing or not believing—and steers away from questions concerning God’s existence or benevolence. Religion is viewed as a social and political force affecting human interaction.
Drawing on years of experience teaching composition in Chile and the United States, the author explores real-world events such as Chile’s 1973 coup d’état, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, and the daily interplay of religious beliefs among family members. Reading and writing assignments—geared for believers and nonbelievers alike—are provided, including student essays that make various arguments about religion.

About the Author(s)

Joe Wagner is an assistant professor of English at Bowling Green State University, Firelands College. He lives in Lakewood, Ohio.

Bibliographic Details

Joe Wagner
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 176
Bibliographic Info: appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7835-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2055-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Introduction 5

1. A “Simple” Question 11

2. Happy Harmonizing: Peirce, James and Dewey on Religion 30

3. God in the Comp Class: Boundaries and Places to Look 63

4. God in the Comp Class: Assignments (and Responding to Assignments) 103

Conclusion 133

Appendix: Student Essays 135

Works Cited 157

Index 165