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Teaching African American Religions$
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Carolyn M. Jones and Theodore Louis Trost

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195167979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/019516797X.001.0001

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“Testifying” and “Testimony”:

“Testifying” and “Testimony”:

Autobiographical Narratives and African American Religions

(p.95) 6 “Testifying” and “Testimony”:
Teaching African American Religions

Moses N. Moore, Jr.

Oxford University Press

Autobiographical narratives and related materials such as journals and diaries have proved to be valuable, but often problematic, resources for the studying and teaching of African American religious experiences. This chapter identifies a number of these resources and illustrates some of the historiographical and pedagogical issues related to their use. In this chapter, “testifying” alludes to the confessional tradition within the black religious experience and is used in reference to the “subjective” self-representations, interpretations, and experiences found in autobiographical narratives and related materials. “Testimony”, meanwhile, has more “factual” connotations and refers to resources and interpretations that are ostensibly more “objective” and hence subject to critical historical assessment. Both types of material are presented as valid, valuable, and complementary resources for studying the African American religious experience. This chapter also includes pedagogical reflections on varied classroom experiences that incorporate both types of resources in courses situated in two university departments of religious studies.

Keywords:   autobiographical narratives, journals, diaries, teaching strategies, African American religious experience, testifying, testimony, objective

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