Dear Workshop,

On Thursday, February 10th, we will be discussing Jonathan Sheehan’s article, “Enlightenment, Religion, and the Enigma of Secularization: A Review Essay.” Sheehan recently wrote an award winning book, The Enlightenment Bible: Translation, Scholarship, and Culture, which we can also work into our conversation.

Time: 12:00, Thursday, February 10, 2010
Place: Swift Hall, 208
Food: Snacks provided, feel free to bring your lunch!
Paper: Copies of the paper are available by emailing

The following is a little snippet of Sheehan’s article that I think offers an interesting summary of the academic “problem”:

…the Enlightenment made modernity “legitimate.” Banishment of religion guaranteed modernity’s freedom from the shackles of the past, and allowed it to develop its own legitimate and authoritative character. Modern is modern, in a sense, to the degree that it is secular. This intimate bond between the Enlightenment and secularization forces all efforts to put religion back into the Enlightenment to take a position on the nature of modern, secular society. It is surely not accidental that although the tools to write a “better history” of the Enlightenment have been long available to historians, only now, in the past ten to fifteen years, has religion “been reinstated as a legitimate part of Enlightenment studies.” The rise of a religious politics in the United States and elsewhere has made it crystal clear that the dissipation of religion as an ideological force can in no way be understood as an inevitable consequence of modernity. This new sense of religion’s potency raises serious doubts about secular modernity. More important here, it raises anxieties–which permeate the new scholarship on eighteenth-century religion–about the ostensible birthplace of secular modernity, the Enlightenment.

Hope to see you there!

– Paul

Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Paul Chang in advance at