Spring 2023

Prof. Devin Zuber

Thursday 9:40am-12:30pm

This seminar explores the multivalent concept of “kenosis,” or self-emptying, and is co-taught by Dr. Deidre Green and Dr. Devin Zuber. First appearing in Paul’s first century letter to the Phillipians concerning Christ’s incarnation—that Christ “made himself nothing” or “emptied himself” in order to be filled with the Divine—the term has since became a rich site for theorizing and contemplating broader varieties of religious and mystical experience. We will survey both the history of early Christian writings that first took up kenosis as a rich theological problematic, as well as its later instantiations in both apophatic mystical traditions (Meister Eckhart, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila) and modern philosophy from the Romantic period onwards. Readings will include Søren Kiergegaard, Simone Weil, Maurice Blanchot, Maggie Nelson, Jacques Derrida. MA / PhD level; oral presentation, final research essay.

Prof. Rebecca Esterson

Tuesdays 9:40am-12:30pm

This seminar explores aspects of the life, work, and influence of the eighteenth century Scandinavian scientist-turned-mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. It will be co-led by Drs. Devin Zuber and Rebecca Esterson. Topically oriented, the class will lift up various strands of Swedenborgian thought and contextualize them within a broad range of contemporary concerns, including (but not limited to): religious pluralism; the history of biblical interpretation; mystical experiences and altered states of consciousness; studies of death and after-death; art and aesthetics; environmentalism and eco-theologies; and comparative religious studies. We will do this through a survey of contemporary scholarly literature on Swedenborg and Swedenborgianism. This course filfills an elective requirement for a Certificate in Swedenborgian Studies. Guest speakers, two reflection papers, one final research paper. The class will be hybrid in format – welcoming both online and in-person participants. [Auditors With Faculty Permission]



Prof. Rebecca Esterson

Wednesdays 9:40am-12:40pm

This course is co-taught by Rebecca Esterson and Sam S.B. Shonkoff. Through collaborative-based learning projects, students and teachers will explore critical issues and develop sound criteria for doing interdisciplinary work in religious studies in an interreligious context. Students will practice skills for formulating research questions, engage in learning the present contours of the fields that will constitute their primary and secondary concentrations and outside disciplines, and begin to develop an academic plan for their studies at the GTU from course work through the comprehensive examination and eventually the dissertation. Requirements: student presentations, a draft academic plan, two short written reports, a book review, and a research prospectus. This course is required for all students in the first year of the GTU PhD program.