It is difficult to carve out time in a course that covers Christianity from the past 2000 years to address material beyond the standard textbooks. But yet, I must because the visual and material culture, the worship practices, and the daily activities of women and men who have called themselves Christians or followers of Christ throughout history also comprise the story of the Christian heritage.
Over the past several weeks, I have been developing material for a historical and theological survey course called “The Christian Heritage.” In the multiple sections of this course taught at my university, and I imagine similarly at schools across the country, students are assigned a course reader. The reader we use is a collection of texts that have shaped the Christian faith from the first century to the 21st. It is a good collection, and I have no objection to using it. However, for the way I would like to teach the course, I will need to supplement the reader with other material. I have two interrelated concerns: the reliance on texts as a way of determining theological history and the absence of women in that history before the medieval period (and even then the number of women included is small). Continue reading “Women’s Christian Heritage by Elise M. Edwards”
First thing to say is that your experience in teaching will be different than mine. Then was then (1978); now is now.
My first position (GTU doctorate in history; assistant professor, tenure track) was at the Harvard University Divinity School. My starting pay was 15k and I felt rich because I’d been a grad student! The first thing I needed to know – and didn’t – was that everyone at HDS, students and faculty alike was sure that he/she, but especially she, was an imposter, the one that the search committee or admissions committee had made a mistake in inviting them. I became the first tenured woman at HDS in 1985. At the end of the 80s, still the only tenured woman, with a lot of help from my friends, I initiated a doctoral concentration in Religion, Gender, and Culture.
With a degree and dissertation specializing on Augustine and 4th c. Mediterranean Cnty, I was hired to replace the illustrious (but alas, retired) George Hunston Williams teaching 1700 years of Christian history. I quickly learned not to present myself as an authority on these centuries. Of course I felt this as a terrible lack. But over almost 20 years of teaching at HDS I came to think of not posturing as an authority as a great pedagogical strategy. So even if I knew the answer to a question I learned to say, “Well, let’s see. Here’s how I would go about looking that up.” Then suggest that the student look it up. This helps the student both to get experience in scholarly research and to remember the answer! Continue reading “Gender and Teaching in Higher Education by Margaret Miles”