Chair Gary Laderman will take a sabbatical leave next year (2012-13) to work on an ebook focused on American civil religion and a larger book project on a global history of American religious cultures. [Update: Here's an article about the e-book--out now!] Michael Berger will serve as Interim Chair of the Department while continuing his duties as Director of Undergraduate Studies.
We send best wishes to Richard C. Martin who retires from the Department at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. Rich has been a pioneer in creating and shaping conversations between Islamic studies and religious studies, beginning with the publication of his book Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies (1985) and modeling the ways in which the two fields can be brought together in his widely used textbook: Islamic Studies: A History of Religions Approach (1996/1982). At Emory, Rich provided wise leadership as chair of the department from 1996-1999. He will assume the editorship of the Review of Middle East Studies in July and will serve on the Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association. Rich will also be a Visiting Scholar at Virginia Tech beginning in the Fall of 2012 where he will teach a course or seminar each semester.
The Department of Religion is delighted to welcome James Hoesterey as Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, beginning Fall Semester 2012. Jim plans to teach a range of undergraduate and graduate courses, including: Islam, Media, and Pop Culture; Religion and Politics; Islam on the Silver Screen; Religious Biography; and, Televangelism in Islam and Christianity. He has spent over three years conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Indonesia. Jim earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation, titled “Sufis and Self-help Gurus: Islamic Psychology, Religious Authority, and Muslim Subjectivity in Contemporary Indonesia,” focuses on how celebrity preacher KH Abdullah Gymnastiar turned his concept of Manajemen Qolbu (“Heart Management”) into Indonesia’s leading self-help program through televised sermons, best-selling books, and corporate training seminars. Jim’s forthcoming book about Gymnastiar’s rapid rise to fame and subsequent fall from grace examines the cultural politics of religious authority and public piety. He has recently begun a new research project about the role of Islam in international diplomacy. Jim also has considerable experience as consulting anthropologist and translator for several documentaries broadcast internationally on Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC. He holds M.A. degrees in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin and from the University of South Carolina and a B.A. in Psychology from Marquette University. He comes to Emory from the University of Michigan, where he was serving as an ACLS New Faculty Fellow; he has also held postdoctoral fellowships at Lake Forest College and Stanford University. Here's a link to an article about Jim in the Emory publication "Spirited Thinking."
David Blumenthal organized the visit of French documentary filmmaker Pierre Sauvage who came to campus for several events Spring semester. His film "Weapons of the Spirit" is the story of how 5,000 Protestant villagers in a French farming hamlet saved Jews during the Nazi occupation. The filmmaker and his parents were among those saved. In addition to a public screening, Sauvage visited David Blumenthal's class.
Pamela Hall’s REL 210 class (on “Literature of the Soul”) met on the Quad in the last days of Spring term. In the photo above they are discussing Carl Dennis’s book of poems on the soul and spirituality in contemporary life, Practical Gods.
Deborah Lipstadt will receive an Honorary Doctorate from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in May 2012.
Prof. Lipstadt's Spring course on "Genocide and the Law" was highlighted in an Emory News Center article on the diversity of courses undergraduates are able to take.
Bobbi Patterson has been named Chief Marshal of the University, for three years beginning Fall 2012. The Chief Marshal is largely a ceremonial role. The person chosen conveys the solemnity, pride, and leadership that inspire faculty, staff and students to respect and treasure the traditions and experiences at Emory. The Chief Marshal participates in all formal academic university functions, primarily including Convocation, Baccalaureate, and Commencement.
This Spring semester Eric Reinders had a show of his ink drawings (complete with cheeky subtitles) in the DUC art gallery, titled "Squinting at Emory's Architecture."
Religion major Lauren Henrickson has been awarded a prestigious Bobby Jones Scholarship. Congrats, Lauren! Here's a link to an Emory article about the most recent Bobby Jones scholarships.
Joint Major in Religion & Anthropology Blair Hunt has been awarded an Undergraduate Humanities Honors Fellowship for Spring 2013 by Emory's Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Way to go, Blair!
Prof. Michael Berger, recipient of Theta Alpha Kappa’s 2012 Kathleen Connolly-Weinert Leader-of-the-Year-Award, presents a check to Religion major Laurin Sephos, recipient of the Theta Alpha Kappa Moderator’s Award.
Speaking of Theta Alpha Kappa: Submit your paper for TAK's Clark Award - Deadline early January. Info here.
Congratulations to students completing honors theses in Religion! These high-GPA students worked over two semesters (or more) with Religion faculty advisers to whom they expressed their gratitude for "believing in me" and "helping me find my voice."
Ariel Wolpe and Mike Luzinski both did historical and cultural studies of music and religion – Mike on the role of music as a linchpin for the success of Wesleyan Methodism in the United States and Ariel on the role of music in inter-religious dialogue. Ariel also cut a CD of original co-created music with 9 other artists coming from a range of religious traditions, including one atheist and they performed their cd at a benefit concert for a refugee community in Atlanta. To learn more about Ariel's project, click here. Emily Brennan wrote a thesis on formation of identity in early Christianity, using social identity theory and focusing in particular on the Gospel of Mark. Jordan Szaroletta’s thesis dealt with a neglected element of the narratives of the book of Exodus: the role the provision of food played in the creation of the Israelite nation.
Students in REL 388 (also CHN/EAS 388): "The Cultural Revolution: Language, Religion, Art and Media" performed "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy" on April 26th in White Hall. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), all forms of artistic expression served political goals. Control of the arts was in the hands of Jiang Quing, Mao's wife. She personally rewrote and oversaw many plays, selecting eight as "model" plays. "Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy" was one of the most popular. The story takes place in 1946, in North China between the retreat of the Japanese and victory of the Red Army against the Kuomintang. The evil bandits of the warloard known as Eagle, allied with the Kuomintang, are holed up in an impenetrable fortress on Tiger Mountain. They have terrorized the villagers, who are suspicious of any armed strangers. But then our hero, Yang Zirong, enters, a proud member of the People's Liberation Army. Can he gain the villagers' trust? Can he infiltrate the bandit gang? By performing this propaganda, the students gained a better sense of the mentality of the Cultural Revolution. The course was co-taught by Eric Reinders (Religion) and Hong Li (REALC). The play and quite a few photos were featured in a local Chinese language publication which can be seen here.
Congratulations to these students who were inducted into the Honor Society for Religion, Theta Alpha Kappa, in 2012:
Havan Morgan Clark
Rebecca Klee Drake
Rebecca Aliza Friedman
Dara Turek Gever
Robert Jay Grabowitz
Preston Carter Hogue
Natalie Blair Hunt
Daniel Lynn Ledford
Samuel Blake Mayes
Silvia Catalina Mejia
Laurin Raymus Sephos
Congratulations to All the Winners of our Departmental Awards AY 2011-12
Emily Brennan received the Vaddadi R. Rao Prize for overall excellence among majors in the Department.
Asad Abdulla was the undergraduate recipient of the John Fenton Prize in the Comparative Study of Religion. Anne Hardison-Moody and Harshita Kamath were the graduate co-recipients. Given annually, the prizes are awarded to those students whose work represents the best in the comparative study of religions: rigor, textual or ethnographic depth, and innovation in comparative work.
Leah Abrams received the William A. Beardslee Prize in Religious Literature, First Place. Ariel Wolpe received the Beardslee Second Place prize. Laurin Sephos received an Honorable Mention for her submission.
Ariel Wolpe was the inaugural recipient of a new award: The Eugene Bianchi Prize in Religion. Established by Professor Emeritus Eugene Bianchi to honor an undergraduate Religion major who demonstrates outstanding service to the community in a way that integrates his or her studies in religion with a commitment to engaged scholarship. Ariel completed an honors thesis involving interfaith musicians.