Failed Theory, Cynicism, and the Study of Religion


  • Anja Kirsch University of Basel



study of religion in Europe, theory of religion, doctoral programs


An afterword to the essays responding to Russell T. McCutcheon's "Beyond Cynicism: A Sampling of Current Work in the Swiss Study of Religion".

Author Biography

Anja Kirsch, University of Basel

Anja Kirsch is a postdoctoral researcher and program coordinator of the joint doctoral program in the academic study of religion of the University of Basel and the University of Zürich. She specializes in the narrative relation of religion and politics. Her research interests include the aesthetics of the secular, narrative efficacy and plausibility in literary aesthetics, and the relation between religion and narrative in film/media.


Atwood, David. 2017. “Preconditions of the Post-Theoretical: Periodizing the Study of Religion.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 45(1): 12–14.

Beutter, Anne. 2017. “On Becoming a Lucid Theoretical Dreamer. Reflections on Academic Work Venturing Outside its Local Knowledge System.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 46(1):17–19.

Erb, Beneditkt. 2017. “Rethinking Islamkritik: Notes of a Hazy German Debate.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 45(1): 14–17.

Gill, Sam. 1994. “The Academic Study of Religion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 62: 965–75.

Horyna, Bretislav. 2011. Kritik der religionswissenschaftlichen Vernunft: Plädoyer für eine empirisch fundierte Theorie und Methodologie. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Koselleck, Reinhart. 2002. The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts. Translated by Todd Samuel Presner. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

———. 2004. Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time. Translated and with an introduction by Keith Tribe. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lyotard, Jean-François. 1984. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Translated by Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Stausberg, Michael. 2009. “There is Life in the Old Dog Yet.” In Contemporary Theories of Religion: A Critical Companion, edited by Michael Stausberg, 1–21. London: Routledge.

White, Hayden. 1973. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.



How to Cite

Kirsch, A. (2017). Failed Theory, Cynicism, and the Study of Religion. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 46(1), 19–22.