During the 2021-22 academic year, Professors Jessica Coblentz and Daniel Horan OFM proposed a new course to the Saint Mary’s College Curriculum Committee, titled Queer Theology. The Queer Theology course, co-taught by Professors Coblentz and Horan, began its first half, Queer Theology I, this semester at Saint Mary’s, and will continue next semester with Queer Theology II. Coblentz and Horan spoke about the circumstances of its creation, emphasizing its intention to address a call for discussion within the community of Saint Mary.
“The unique thing about how this course came about is that we were very intentional about having a conversation with the students because the class was inspired by the students’ desire to learn more about it,” explained Koblenz. “We were really intentional in asking them, ‘What do you want to study?’ ‘What questions do you ask yourself that you don’t answer in other courses you take or in some of the extracurricular opportunities here at the College?’
Along the same lines, Horan recalled his moment of recognizing the need for a course like this.
“We had an event on campus, and during the Q&A session, it became clear that students were very interested in perspectives of Christian theology that aligned with the experiences of those who identify as LGBTQ+ and flowed from it,” Horan said.
Horan then spoke about the attitude of the student body.
“There was a hunger, there was an interest, there was a desire to hear more about the work that’s being done around this topic,” Horan said.
Coblentz, who taught a “queer theology” course prior to his time at Saint Mary’s, expressed interest and determination in forming the program.
“We have done our best, as experts in Christian theology, to somehow find opportunities to introduce students to ideas of academic theology that relate to their own organic interest,” Coblentz said.
She outlined some of what the course aims to cover as a whole.
“We explore in the class how ideas from Queer theory challenge and expand on some ideas from traditional Christian theology and we also examine how ideas from Christian theology can challenge, expand upon, and help reimagine different issues in Queer theory. ,” explained Koblenz.
In addition to course content, Horan shared another main consideration in the brainstorming phase, the importance of course accessibility. “A course like this had not been offered at Saint Mary’s or in the tri-campus community, at least to our knowledge, so we really had the chance to think from the ground up, what a course like this one ?” Horan continued.
“How could we make this a course that is accessible and available to the greatest number of students interested in taking it, recognizing that students have very full plates,” he said.
The course structure is unique in that each semester is worth one and a half credits. Intended to accommodate those who have an interest in taking this course but may have a full schedule or minimal room, the course is offered on Wednesday evenings. This is a one-year course available to students to take either semester or the other or both in combination to earn the equivalent of a regular course in credits.
“We wanted to do something a little bit innovative even in the course offering, and that’s where the one and a half credit per semester, part one part two structure came in,” Horan said. .
Horan discussed the importance this course plays within the communities of Saint Mary’s and the three campuses.
“I think it’s important because there is, first of all, an important area of this field of study that hasn’t or hasn’t traditionally, in the three-campus area, received much attention in a formal academic sense. I think the second reason is that it’s important because these are pressing issues of our time, aren’t they? said Horane.
Horan continued and addressed the specific relevance of the course in a Catholic college setting.
“Thus, in a Catholic college, our mission, our vision of education is rooted in this quest for a deeper knowledge of the human person, of the world, of God, of what we see and of what is more than what we see. And so, in that regard, something like queer theology fits in very comfortably and ideally. said Horane. “The intersection of dialogue is a big part of what this course is about.”
Coblentz also dove into the conversations within the class that have been sparked since he started this semester.
“But I think what we’re exploring and queer theology are ways to get Christianity to impact our lives that are often overlooked, that often aren’t introduced to students, and I think weather students end up agree or disagree with the authors we read in class I think it is often very productive, fruitful and exciting to ask ourselves if faith has something to offer in this regard Something to offer that we do not maybe hadn’t thought of before,” Coblentz said.
Her overall passion for this course and its content stems from the meaning she hopes others will find in it.
“This dialogue where we challenge ourselves to grow in understanding to broaden our horizons to rethink things some of us took for granted is what all theology courses on our campus aim to do,” Coblentz said.
Contact Cora Haddad at [email protected].