Religious Diversity in Higher Education: Traveling Canons, Egyptian Readers

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The task of presenting traditional Western texts at an overseas American university poses special challenges when the student body is diverse with respect to its religious orientation. My paper will be concerned with how a philosophical and religious subject-matter can provide the basis for inter-faith and secular dialogue. My recent experience of presenting Kierkegaard to Middle Eastern, but mostly Egyptian, students, whose religious frame of reference is often koranic rather than biblical, allowed me to discuss how dominant modes of monotheism can be traced to a common intellectual origin. While my task was largely hermeneutical, I also needed to be aware of how important it is to relate a whole range of interpretive options to students from different religious backgrounds. The opportunity of being able to present canonical texts to students from various backgrounds will be discussed as a pedagogical advantage.


Keywords: Religious Texts, Pedagogy, Experience, Middle Eastern, University
Stream: Learning, Education, Training
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. William Melaney

Associate Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature, American University in Cairo
Cairo, Egypt

I am Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo. I teach courses on the history of literary criticism and the interface between philosophy and literature at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. A complete study of modernism in literature and philosophy has been published under the title, "After Ontology: Literary Theory and Modernist Poetics" (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001). My main research interests include modern English, French and German literature, contemporary European philosophy, intellectual history and the possibility of religious pluralism.

Ref: D08P0456