The Critical Comparative Scriptures program advances the Religion department's aspirations and commitment to modeling a comparative religions program for the 21st century.It aims to be unique among graduate programs in religion - even among the established comparative religions programs throughout the major universities of North America - insofar as it represents a different orientation to the study of scriptures, traditionally understood and practiced as textual study.
While often, but not necessarily, related to texts, the Critical Comparative program acknowledges that the term "scriptures" frequently designates the most significant source of - and the focal point for - the invention and politics of religious discourses, including global and/or local conflicts and social cohesion. The program seeks to problematize scriptures as freighted shorthand for a complex cross-cultural phenomenon involving our signs/discourses, rituals and practices, artifacts, representations, myths, ideologies, sentiments and power relations. It raises basic questions and issues about self-reflexivity, positionality and interestedness, power and difference. In short, the CCS program facilitates research on the work that human beings make scriptures do for them.
As a comparative program, CCS strives to be comprehensive in scope, encouraging research across "world" religion traditions, geo-spatial boundaries, socio-cultural complexes, and vernacular traditions. It expects students to employ anthropology, sociology, psychology, social history, linguistic, performance studies and political theory, among other disciplines, in an attempt to explain how and why and with what consequences human beings scripturalize.