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Religion and Politics—Help a Friend

June 17, 2009

Some of you may know my friend Craig Martin. Craig recently posted this on his facebook page and asked whether I might share it here too so he could get some additional feedback:

For those of you who know about my work, I’m revising my dissertation and looking for a publisher. The book is basically a study of liberal political theory or liberal political philosophy. I show that the language and concepts liberals use (“religion and politics” or “separation of church and state”) to understand the relationship between “religious” institutions and “state” institutions is about as sophisticated as using the language of the four humours to talk about what’s in our bodies. I argue that the use of such language for progressive political politics (i.e., “don’t impose your religious values on me”) may actually be counterproductive in some cases.

My book proposal was rejected by the first round of publishers I sent it to, so I’m revising it and sending it out for a second round. I think part of the problem is how tedious my proposed title was. I’ve come up with a number of possible variations, and I’d love for you to let me know which is most interesting or least tedious, or to make your own suggestions.

Possible Titles:

Public/Private Borders
Public/Private Borders and Other Myths
Religion and Politics
Religion and Politics and Other Myths
Separation of Church and State and Other Myths:

Possible Subtitles:

A Discourse Analysis of Liberal Rhetoric on Religion
A Genealogy of Liberal Rhetoric on Religion
A Genealogy of Liberal Discourses on Religion
A Marxist Critique of Liberal Rhetoric on Religion
A Marxist Critique of Liberal Discourses on Religion

Place any votes or suggestions in the comments; Craig follows this blog so he’ll see them.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2009 2:45 pm

    No ideas about title but I’d buy the book if not too expensive

  2. Alderson Warm-Fork permalink
    June 17, 2009 3:49 pm

    Hmmm I think the ‘and other myths’ thing is good for making it sound more like something interesting to read and less like a textbook (if that’s what you’re after). And ‘separation of church and state and other myths’ has the advantage that it might provoke people who think of that as a obvious and necessary principle or something. But that’s also the longest… I definitely think ‘religion and politics’ is more eye-catching than public/private.

    My hunch with the subtitles would either the marxist critique of the geneaology of liberal rhetoric. Discourse analysis might sound a bit more mystifying. whether ‘marxist analysis’ will get you more interest, not sure, may well depend on audience.

  3. June 17, 2009 4:49 pm

    I like either Religion and Politics and Other Myths or Separation of Church and State and Other Myths. They’re provocative (provocative sells!) and easy to understand, and would appeal to me either now or even in my ignorant teenage years.

    As for subtitles, my gut says leave out “Marxist”. Maybe it would be an advantage if the intended audience is solely academic types who already are familiar with the subject matter, but it could scare away a lot of otherwise interested lay people. (or am I the only one who reads philosophical books for fun?) I do prefer “Critique” to “Discourse Analysis” for the same reasons as the commenter above, and I think I prefer Rhetoric to Discourses, too.

    Also, maybe Religion *versus* Politics would be less ambiguous than Religion and Politics, since it makes it clear exactly what myth is being attacked?

  4. John permalink
    June 17, 2009 5:34 pm

    This sounds like something I’d like to read.

    I’ve heard it said that a paper title should consist of “something sexy and something smart.” “Separation of Church and State and Other Myths” is definitely the “sexiest” of the choices. “Religion and Politics” is too vague.

    I’m not a philosopher, but I would be expecting different things from something called a “Discourse Analysis,” a “Genealogy,” or a “Marxist Critique”. I don’t know if this is an accurate perception, but when I hear “genealogy” in this context I think Foucault, although I do like “A Genealogy of Liberal Discourses on Religion”.

  5. Vidya permalink
    June 18, 2009 5:31 pm

    My favourite of the options is:

    Separation of Church and State, and Other Myths: A Genealogy of Liberal Discourses on Religion

    The widest commercial appeal of the lot, I think.

  6. June 19, 2009 11:40 am

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions; this has given me a lot to think about, and it’s allowed me to cross some of the options off the list!

  7. Erica permalink
    June 26, 2009 9:09 am

    What about “The Myth of Separation of Church and State”?

    Or Church and State- The Separation Myth?

    Or Church and State- The Myth of Separation?

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