Review Comment

[RELI V3604] Religion in the City

December 22, 2010

Bender, Courtney Silver_nugget
[RELI V3604] Religion in the City

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Bender is the perfect teacher for this class. She specializes in American religion, particularly in pluralist and cosmopolitan settings such as New York City. No one else on the religion faculty here (to my knowledge) is more knowledgeable than she is in this field.

The course is just what it sounds like: religion's presence and position in cities, particularly this one, since the founding of the United States. Lectures generally follow the contents of whatever book (or parts of books, or articles) were assigned for that week, and while doing the reading really helps, you can get by without it if need be. The readings concentrated mostly on Christianity in the city, with some Judaism and some Islam in there, but nothing of Asian religions, or at least barely anything.

At heart, this class is about ethnography. Each student chooses a religious site or group within Manhattan to study over the course of the semester. Each student writes four papers: the first is a "precis," an overview of the site/community, how it relates to its immediate surroundings, how it advertises itself, etc. The second is a history of the site/group. The third is a field study, an argument students make on the basis of observational field notes they write after visiting the site on several occasions. Finally, the fourth essay uses another students' research in comparison with your own to make some larger argument and come to a larger conclusion. Choose a good and interesting site (one you aren't already familiar with, those seem to always go wrong) and you learn a lot about research and observation as well as directly about that community.

Not an easy class, but not really hard, and highly recommended.


Four papers (see above), one 6-8 pages, two 8-10, one 10-15. No midterm or final. About one book per week, or two small ones, or three or four articles.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
RELI / RELI RELI RELI V3604: Religion in the City Courtney Bender 2012 Fall MW / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
RELI / RELI RELI RELI V3604: Religion in the City Courtney Bender 2010 Fall MW / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
RELI / RELI RELI RELI V3604: Religion in the City Courtney Bender 2009 Spring MW / 9:00-10:15 AM 1