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Teaching Mysticism$
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William B. Parsons

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199751198

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751198.001.0001

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Teaching African American Mysticism

Teaching African American Mysticism

(p.138) { 8 } Teaching African American Mysticism
Teaching Mysticism

Joy R. Bostic

Oxford University Press

Epistemological theories that speak to how we know what we know are critical theories to interrogate when teaching about mysticism from the perspectives of marginalized groups. It is our epistemological bearings that help us to determine what we deem to be “legitimate” mystical experience. This chapter, which describes a course on African American mysticism, begins with an exploration of how mysticism has been historically defined in Western culture and the ways in which issues of power, race, and gender have factored into these definitions. Against this backdrop, the course gives special attention to how African Americans have viewed mystical experience, as well as the epistemological frameworks that have informed their views. These frameworks provide a lens through which we can better understand the complexity of African American mystical traditions. The course uses narrative, film, music, and field trips as pedagogical tools that can enable students to enter into and engage these traditions.

Keywords:   African American Mysticism, race, gender, power, marginalized groups

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