The Religion in Public working group will explore critically the intersections of religion, race, secularism, and American public life from the colonial period to the present. Its aim is to cultivate an interdisciplinary space that is open to theory and method from both the humanities and the social sciences. In addition to showcasing the research of those associated with the Center for Cultural Analysis (CCA), the working group will host visiting scholars in order to cultivate collaborations across and between disciplines. The working group is also dedicated to amplifying the work and research of those connected to the Shelter Project: a Luce Foundation funded effort between Rutgers, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and local community partners that investigates how the pandemic COVID-19 is affecting those on the ground in local communities in and around New Brunswick. Additional programming and curricular projects connected to both the CCA and the Shelter Project will be highlighted by the Religion in Public working group.
Colin Jager, Professor of English and Director of the CCA. Professor Colin Jager writes and teaches about romantic literature, politics, and culture, about secularism and religion, and about cognitive science and theories of consciousness. He is the author of articles on all of these topics, published in The Wordsworth Circle, Qui Parle, ELH, Studies in Romanticism, Pedagogy, Romantic Circles Praxis, Public Culture, and elsewhere. In 2017-2018 he was Interim Chair of the Department of English; in fall of 2018 he was also the Leverhulme Visiting Professor of English at Lancaster University, England. He is currently the Director of the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers. He is the author of two books: The Book of God: Secularization and Design in the Romantic Era (2007), and Unquiet Things: Secularism in the Romantic Age (2015), both published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. The first studies the ubiquitous presence of the argument from design in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, arguing that its cultural and aesthetic importance undermines the familiar equation of modernization with secularization. The second emphasizes secularism rather than religion as its primary analytic category, and proposes that romantic-era literary writing possesses a distinctive ability to register the discontents that characterize the mood of secular modernity. Professor Jager is currently working on two projects. The first, provisionally titled On Not Being Reconciled, is a study of literature and religion, with particular reference to Adorno and Kierkegaard. The second is a book on the political possibilities of Romanticism, provisionally entitled Careless Steps.