Theories of Political Theology, or "the Neighbor," have recently been brought to bear on intercultural relations at their largest, interrogating the ethics of community across differences of religion, race, gender, and history. In this graduate colloquium we will immerse ourselves in such theories, using medieval literature as our test case. It has become a critical commonplace that Middle English texts (particularly romance) amplify difference to bolster a coherent Christian or English identity. Moving beyond that insight, we will use medieval literature to explore how theories of political theology can offer us a distinct view into both the potentials and the problems of ethical relations. The Winter Quarter will comprise a neighbor-theory "boot-camp," while the Spring Quarter will include, in addition to theoretical reading, student presentations on the possible utility of such theories to their own areas of concentration. Students need not enroll in both quarters, but students enrolling only in the Spring may wish to see the reading list for the Winter to widen their acquaintance with these theories.
In connection with this graduate colloqium on the neighbor, the English Department is bringing Kenneth Reinhard to campus during the Winter Quarter to speak on the neighbor. Kenneth Reinhard is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA. He is one of the foremost theorists of neighbor theory working today, on which subject he has published and worked extensively in recent years. To find out more about his work, visit http://www.complit.ucla.edu/people/faculty/reinhard/, or his own website, at http://www.soundandsignifier.com/.