This area of study focuses on the interpretation, analysis, critique, assessment, and constructive development of Christian thought in the past and the present. It encompasses a wide array of subgenres (systematic theology, fundamental theology, moral theology, political theology, liberation theologies, etc.), acknowledges diverse denominational and non-denominational perspectives, and reckons with a range of interdisciplinary issues.
There are no required courses in this research area, except for RELG 7360 (“Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion,” which is required of all PhD students in Religious Studies). But PhD students are encouraged to engage various historical periods, stretching from antiquity through the medieval, modern, and contemporary periods, and to tackle a wide range of authors and texts, while also refining a discrete agenda of research. As necessary, students can and should take classes in other departments of the university.
As always, students should discuss their choices of courses with their advisor(s).
Each PhD candidate will take a total five comprehensive exams. Three exams encompass discrete periods of intellectual history; another exam is taken in another area of research; a final exam is developed in consultation with a student’s advisor(s) and—typically—serves as a launch-pad for the composition of a dissertation proposal. These exams will be reviewed by two faculty members.
Although the order in which exams are taken is at the discretion of the student and their advisor, the titles are as follows:
- Ancient to medieval
- Medieval to modern
- Modern to contemporary
- Exam outside of this research area
- Topics and thinkers (typically the starting point for the composition and submission of a dissertation proposal)
Students should consult with faculty early and often about the timing of these exams. It is often valuable for some comps to be taken during the period in which the student is in coursework. Faculty can advise students on this front.
There are no set reading lists; the bibliography for each exam is developed by the PhD student in consultation with their advisor.