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Reading Group in the Social Sciences for Postgraduate Theologians

Reading Group in the Social Sciences for Postgraduate Theologians

This group shall meet on alternate Wednesdays during full term: on 11 and 25 October and then on 8 and 22 November 2017, from 4:15 – 6:00 in Room 7 in the Faculty of Divinity.

This term, we propose to read Robert Orsi’s The Madonna of 115th Street. Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950, Yale University Press, 2010. This is the third edition and contains three prefaces, dating from 1985, 2001 and 2010. The prefaces are our main concern (so you will need the third edition).

Orsi has produced a remarkable study of an annual religious event in twentieth century New York, while his successive prefaces give a picture of the development of the historical and anthropological study of religion since 1945. We shall consider the social historical monograph in the first session, and then each preface (in order of writing) in the three later sessions.

Please come to the first session, therefore, having read the case-study chapters. This is over 200 pages, so you may not have time to read all of it thoroughly; get the gist.

This reading group is intended primarily for postgraduates who wish to explore the possibility of using social science methods in their research or who have a broad interest in the topic. The group is also open to any interested post-doctoral researcher or senior member of the Faculty. Members of other Faculties are welcome, but should contact one of the following first:

Timothy Jenkins (
Giles Waller (
Chris Moses (


Current students and supervisors can access the Faculty’s Moodle page by clicking on the image below.