Laurel C. Schneider
Professor of Religious Studies,
Religion and Culture
Phone: (615) 343-8887
Ph.D., Graduate Department of Religion,Vanderbilt University, 1997.
M.Div., Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University, 1990.
A.B. with Honors, International Studies, Dartmouth College, 1984.
I am a scholar of modern and postmodern Christian thought, trained in gender theory, sociology of religion, and in Native American religious traditions. I am interested in intersectional questions of identity, meaning and divinity as they pertain to contemporary political and social questions of justice and liberation. Race, sexuality, culture, narrative, poetics, and colonial history cannot be separated in the make-up of persons, societies, or religions as if strands in a rope. Rather, identities and ideas—especially religious identities and ideas—come into being in the relationship. Because of this presupposition in my work (which makes coherent, for example, the question “what race is your sex?”) I focus on how ideas of divinity, or of presence, can be thought outside of narrow western constructions of meaning. My books have explored the limits of traditional dogmatic approaches to religious questions in the Christian tradition, introducing potential openings and movement from other sources. I also work in Native American studies, particularly in contemporary scholarship in literature, poetry, and philosophy.
My current research and writing is moving in two general directions. The first expands upon my recent monograph Beyond Monotheism: A Theology of Multiplicity (Routledge, 2007) in terms of the concept of incarnation and the persistent contemporary challenge of queerness, and the other expands upon my work in the volume Polydoxy: Theologies of Multiplicity and Relation co-edited with Catherine Keller (Routledge, 2010) in which I work toward a decolonialized methodology based in poetics and indigenous philosophies for thinking about sacred presence(s). I also believe strongly in collaborative thinking, and to that end currently co-convene the national Workgroup in Constructive Theology (with Dr. Stephen Ray) comprised of over 70 scholars in the field, and a much smaller group working at the intersections of postcolonial theory, queer theory, race theory, and feminist theory. I am also active in the American Academy of Religion, having just completed two terms on the Committee for the Status of LGBTIQ Persons in the Profession.