Within and Beyond Religious Boundaries: Welcoming the ‘Uninvited Visitor’ through a Curriculum of Hospitality


  • Jon Lee Smythe Oklahoma State University


Derrida, Curriculum, Hospitality, Uninvited Visitor


Graduate students (who are also educators) sometimes make spontaneous statements regarding their religious identities. In making these declarations, they appear to invoke boundaries that exclude certain already marginalized groups. Another implication is that “liberal” education is divesting them of their religious faith. This paper suggests that while religions create boundaries, they also mandate the crossing of those boundaries to support others with whom they significantly differ and, further, that Derrida’s notion of “hospitality” offers possibilities for welcoming what he calls the “uninvited visitor,” for whose arrival we have not planned but whom we must embrace through acts of the impossible. A theoretical framework for fostering a curriculum of hospitality is offered and includes themes of deconstructing the Judeo-Christian narrative, difference as a human right, secularization, the welcoming experience, and forgiveness. The author’s pedagogical experiences in light of this framework are woven throughout.                    

Author Biography

Jon Lee Smythe, Oklahoma State University

Curriculum Studies

Assistant Professor