The Federalist Papers, Transgender History, and Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction on a porch.

Fall 2020 Reading Circles

As we enter this Fall of our Discontent (or Content?), I have created new Reading Circles that I hope will help bring out more people to read and to discuss. These Reading Circles begin in late September / early October and go through November. All of the Reading Circles will be through Zoom or other video calling technology.

Dates and times are provided at the bottom of each introduction to the Circle, along with a weekly syllabus. Times are provided for the major North American time zones; please note that this is for brevity and not exclusion. If you are not in those time zones and feel you can make the Reading Circle, please apply. I hope these Circles can be robust and dynamic in the views and experiences that people bring to the table.

Gender, Sexuality, and Faith: Transgender Histories and Theologies

The Gender, Sexuality, and Faith Reading Circle will be turning from Mormonism, gender, and sexuality, to thinking deeply about how to theologize and sanctify bodies of all type.

In order to love others, as disciples of Christ are asked to do, we must understand other people—their experiences, their perspectives, their histories, and their theologies. All of these are in plural forms because one person does not represent, indeed cannot be representative of, all people collected and organized into our various spectrums of identities. Furthermore, in order to understand people, everyone must do their part to create welcoming and nourishing (not just accepting) environments, places in which people feel comfortable and safe sharing their selves.

As an attempt at thinking deeply through lay theology in a group, the Gender, Sexuality, and Faith Reading Circle invites you to apply for a six-week reading group that will read through Susan Stryker’s Transgender History and various articles on the intersections of transgender studies and theology. Together, we will discuss how to theologize the trans* body as a heavenly and celestial part of the body of Christ. I envision this group will focus on Christian doctrine and theology broadly (although, knowing my own background and my personal social media reach, it will most likely favor Latter-day Saint theology).

Each week, we will read a chapter of Transgender History and pair it with an article in a large umbrella of transgender theology (being theological works by or about transgender people).

Members of the Reading Circle will need to obtain a copy of Transgender History (second edition), but the articles will be provided through Dropbox.

Sundays, October 4, 2020 to November 8, 2020
Pacific time: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Mountain time: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Central time: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Eastern time: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Week 1: Introductions | Marcella Althaus-Reid, “Outing Theology: Thinking Christianity out of the Church Closet.”

Week 2: Chp. 1 Contexts, Concepts, and Terms | Susannah Cornwall, “Intersex and Transgender People,” Oxford Handbook of Theology, Sexuality, and Gender

Week 3: Chp. 2 A Hundred-Plus Years of Transgender History | Christina Hutchins, “Holy Ferment: Queer Philosophical Destabilizations and the Discourse on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Lives in Christian Institutions.”

Week 3: Chp. 3 Trans Liberation | Kelly Kraus, “Queer Theology: Reclaiming Christianity for the LGBT Community.”

Week 4: Chp. 4 The Difficult Decades | Susannah Cornwall, “Recognizing the Full Spectrum of Gender? Transgender, Intersex and the Futures of Feminist Theology.”

Week 5: Chp. 5 The Millennial Wave | Elyse J. Raby, “‘You knit me together in my mother’s womb’: A Theology of Creation and Divine Action in Light of Intersex.”

Week 6: Chp. 6 The Tipping Point? | Dawne Moon and Theresa W. Tobin, “Sunsets and Solidarity: Overcoming Sacramental Shame in Conservative Christian Churches to Forge a Queer Vision of Love and Justice” | Conclusions

Apply here.

Founding Potentials and Philosophies of the American Project

As we enter a new voting season, it is an excellent time to return to the founding documents of the American project in order to discuss, analyze, and interrogate the principles upon which the United States of America were founded.

The founding documents we will be working with each week will be the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederacy, United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, and all 85 Federalist papers.

Instead of discussing current trends in politics, whether progressive, conservative, or liberal, this group will focus on the principles and philosophies implanted in the actual documents, discussing what they say rather than how they have interpreted since being written. In this effort, we will be doing our own interpretations, but my hope is to have the time and space to talk about what the documents actually say and what those words mean—positively and negatively.

Members of the Reading Circle will be able to use these texts in whatever form they have. Personally, I will be using online versions for the first two weeks and then reading from the Penguin Classics edition of The Federalist Papers. Various forms of these publications are welcome, though, since other publishing houses provide different footnotes and insights into the text that members of the group can bring to the Reading Circle.

Saturdays, September 19, 2020 to October 31, 2020
Pacific time: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Mountain time: 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Central time: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Eastern time: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Week 1: Introductions, Declaration of Independence

Week 2: Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution

Week 3: Federalist 1–22

Week 4: Federalist 23–46

Week 5: Federalist 47–66

Week 6: Federalist 67–85

Week 7: Conclusion

Apply here. All Hamilton references are welcome and encouraged.

SF Studies: Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction

SF is a broad term that encompasses, for me, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative fictions that use other worlds and otherworldly ideas to interrogate the world around us (or the world around which the author lives). The SF Studies Reading Circle will be a series of Reading Circles that look deeply at various texts from SF Studies to discuss them chapter-by-chapter. Signing up for this Reading Circle signs you up to discuss our first book, John Rieder’s Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction.

One of the founding studies in SF studies, Rieder’s Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction engages with 19th- and 20th-century science fiction and its relationship to colonialism and imperialism. It looks at the founding of the genre (if one can consider SF having a certain founding) and how it was affected by the cultural conventions of the day.

Members of the Reading Circle will need to obtain a copy of Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction.

Wednesdays, October 7, 2020 to November 11, 2020
Pacific time: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Mountain time: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Central time: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Eastern time: 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Chapter 1: Introduction: The Colonial Gaze and the Frame of Science Fiction

Week 3: Chapter 2: Fantasies of Appropriation: Lost Race and Discovered Wealth

Week 4: Chapter 3: Dramas of Interpretation

Week 5: Chapter 4: Artificial Humans and the Construction of Race

Week 6: Chapter 5: Visions of Catastrophe | Conclusion

Apply here.