Students ‘queer’ the Bible for credit

“This process of queering will allow and require us to approach the biblical text in new ways," the course description states.

Pomona College students can earn one credit by taking "Queer Theory and the Bible."

Pomona College in California is offering a class to students on “queering” the Bible.

“Queer Theory and the Bible” will teach students how to read the Bible “through queer theory,” by examining excerpts that are “central to prohibitions on homosexuality,” as well as “discourses of heteronormativity” through which “homophobic readings of the Bible” are born.

“We will also look at the ways in which these discourses and the identities they shore up can be ‘queered,’ as well as at biblical texts that can be read as queer friendly,” the course description reads. “This process of queering will allow and require us to approach the biblical text in new ways.”

The course is classified as a “Religious Studies” course and as such satisfies Pomona’s “Analyzing Difference” category of general education requirements. Students who take “Queer Theory and the Bible” will earn one credit.

[RELATED: Prof suggests using art classes to help kids ‘turn out queer’]

Pomona student Daniel Silverman told Campus Reform that the requirement “meets a certain demand on campus.”

“The overall socio-political environment among both students and faculty at Pomona lies deep into the left of the political spectrum,” he explained. “As I see it, ‘Queer Theory and the Bible’ and other similar classes related to gender theory exist because there is a high demand among students to enroll in those courses.”

Silverman suggested that the course might be more useful if it were taught by its current professor, Erin Runions, plus another religious studies professor with “a more conservative insight,” because doing so “would enrich the dialogue and discussion within the course.”

“I will note that if the course was co-taught with a conservative professor, I imagine that fewer Pomona students would enroll in it than otherwise, as students on campus, in general, don’t seem interested in learning from conservative professors,” Silverman added. 

[RELATED: Princeton course will teach students to ‘read queerly’]

“I’m glad that Pomona provides its professors with the academic freedom to teach courses on challenging and potentially controversial subjects,” Pomona student Heidi Artigue told Campus Reform, adding that it was “hard to say” if she would choose to take such a course herself.

Pomona College is one of several colleges across the country offering courses in which students study a “queering.” Pomona College also offers a course titled “Queering Childhood.” Eugene Lang College of the New School for Liberal Arts in New York City, Harvard Divinity School, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and the University of San Francisco also offer similar courses. 

Pomona College did not return a request for comment in time for publication. 

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