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For posters of our current Fall 2017 courses, click here.

 
Brandi Denison’s New Book
 

Denison bookBrandi Denison, a PhD graduate of our department (2011) and an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of North Florida, has just published a book titled Ute Land Religion in the American West, 1879–2009 (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). From the University of Nebraska Press website:

Ute Land Religion in the American West, 1879–2009 is a narrative of American religion and how it intersected with land in the American West. Prior to 1881, Utes lived on the largest reservation in North America—twelve million acres of western Colorado. Brandi Denison takes a broad look at the Ute land dispossession and resistance to disenfranchisement by tracing the shifting cultural meaning of dirt, a physical thing, into land, an abstract idea. This shift was made possible through the development and deployment of an idealized American religion based on Enlightenment ideals of individualism, Victorian sensibilities about the female body, and an emerging respect for diversity and commitment to religious pluralism that was wholly dependent on a separation of economics from religion.

“As the narrative unfolds, Denison shows how Utes and their Anglo-American allies worked together to systematize a religion out of existing ceremonial practices, anthropological observations, and Euro-American ideals of nature. A variety of societies then used religious beliefs and practices to give meaning to the land, which in turn shaped inhabitants’ perception of an exclusive American religion. Ultimately, this movement from the tangible to the abstract demonstrates the development of a normative American religion, one that excludes minorities even as they are the source of the idealized expression.”

Congratulations, Brandi!

Posted in Alumni News on August 29, 2017  
Evyatar Marienberg on Sting and Religion
 

Sting

In late July, Prof. Evyatar Marienberg met with British rockstar Sting for a detailed conversation as part of the research for his upcoming book, Religion Around Sting (Penn State University Press). Sting, a.k.a. Gordon Sumner, was born in 1951 in North East England to a Catholic father and an Anglican mother. He went through Catholic schools through the crucial years before, during, and after the Vatican II council, and thus experienced a wildly changing Church as a young man. Even though he does not consider himself a Catholic today, Catholic imagery is extremely important in his lyrics.

Marienberg’s work is based on a variety of sources, including archival materials of all kinds (schools, diocese, parish, etc.), local newspapers from the time, and interviews. Last year, Sting read a significant part of the upcoming book, which prepared the way for their discussion in July which lasted almost 2.5 hours.

For a short article related to this project, click here.

Posted in Faculty News on August 11, 2017  
Brendan Thornton Wins Barbara Christian Prize
 

Professor Brendan Thornton’s book, Negotiating Respect: Pentecostalism, Masculinity, and the Politics of Spiritual Authority in the Dominican Republic (University Press of Florida, 2016), has won the 2017 Barbara Christian Prize for Best Book in the Humanities from the Caribbean Studies Association. From the comments of one of the judges on the prize committee:

“I cannot assert strongly enough the groundbreaking moves made in Negotiating Respect. Thornton challenges our now settled critical orthodoxies as what counts as radical and subversive scholarship by taking seriously the diverse practices of Caribbean Christianity…. The stakes for the field of Caribbean studies are high. Thornton asks us to complicate our reading of quotidian religious practices: so, that we might see that ‘the church has become more norm than exception, more local than foreign, more orthodox than heterodox, more accepted than disdained.’”

For more on the prize, click here.

Congratulations, Brendan!

Posted in Faculty News, Faculty Publications on July 19, 2017  
New Discoveries at the 2017 Huqoq Excavations
 

UNC students

The 2017 season of the archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee, led by Professor Jodi Magness, recently concluded at the end of June, and this season’s work uncovered new parts of the unique mosaic floor from the ancient synagogue at the site. Among the new mosaics are a Helios and zodiac cycle, a depiction of the biblical story of Jonah, and a scene of the construction of the Tower of Babel.

For more details on the discoveries, see the official press release here.

For reports from previous seasons of excavations at Huqoq, see here (9/14/2016), here (7/6/2016), and here (7/15/2014). You can also visit the excavation’s webpage at huqoqexcavationproject.org.

Capricorn

Part of the zodiac (Capricorn) from the Huqoq synagogue mosaic (photo by Jim Haberman)


Wood carver

Depiction of a wood carver from the Huqoq synagogue mosaic (photo by Jim Haberman)

Posted in Faculty News, Graduate Student News, Undergraduate Accomplishments on July 9, 2017  
David Lambert at the Institute for Advanced Studies
 

LambertFor the 2017-18 academic year, Professor David Lambert will be a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem as part of a research group on the topic of “The Subject of Antiquity: Contours and Expressions of the Self in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures.” This project dovetails with his ongoing research on how modern notions of the self have shaped biblical interpretation. As the project description states:

“There is a growing scholarly consensus that new notions of the self emerged in Greco-Roman Antiquity, which prompted philosophers, artists, lawmakers and biographers to conceive of human beings as individuated selves, situated in specific cultural and historical contexts. We wish to examine these emerging discourses of the self, and their interaction and expressions in the material and textual culture of Greeks and Romans, Jews and Christians.”

Professor Lambert also won a EURIAS fellowship to help support his work during the upcoming year. For more on the EURIAS award, click here.

Congratulations, David!

Posted in Faculty News on July 5, 2017  
Randall Styers: Magic in the Modern World
 

BoonThe latest book by Randall Styers, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, is a volume of collected essays (co-edited with Edward Bever of SUNY Old Westbury) titled Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and Legitimization (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017). In addition to co-editing the entire volume, Prof. Styers contributes an essay to the collection on “Bad Habits, or, How Superstition Disappeared in the Modern World.” From the Penn State University Press website:

“This collection of essays considers the place of magic in the modern world, first by exploring the ways in which modernity has been defined in explicit opposition to magic and superstition, and then by illuminating how modern proponents of magic have worked to legitimize their practices through an overt embrace of evolving forms such as esotericism and supernaturalism.

“Taking a two-track approach, this book explores the complex dynamics of the construction of the modern self and its relation to the modern preoccupation with magic. Essays examine how modern ‘rational’ consciousness is generated and maintained and how proponents of both magical and scientific traditions rationalize evidence to fit accepted orthodoxy. This book also describes how people unsatisfied with the norms of modern subjectivity embrace various forms of magic—and the methods these modern practitioners use to legitimate magic in the modern world.”

The volume also includes a contribution by one of our PhD alumni, Megan Goodwin, titled “Manning the High Seat: Seidr as Self-Making in Contemporary Norse Neopaganisms.”

Congratulations, Randall!

Posted in Alumni News, Faculty Publications on June 16, 2017  
Congratulations, 2017 Graduates!
 

2017 RELI Grads

We wanted to congratulate all the graduates of our Religious Studies program in 2017. You have inspired us both in and outside the classroom with your enthusiasm, creativity, and critical insight. We wish you every success in your future endeavors!

Posted in Undergraduate Accomplishments on May 19, 2017  
RELIxperience Video: Tarheel Religions
 

The third of the three winning videos from our RELIxperience Video Contest is titled “Tarheel Religions” and was produced by three students from Prof. Harshita Kamath’s Gender Theory and the Study of Religion class: Mistyre Bonds, Margaret Humble, and Claire Johnson. Their video takes the form of an extended metaphorical reflection on the “religions” that define us here at Carolina:

For a list of all our RELIxperience video contest winners, click here.

Posted in Undergraduate Accomplishments on May 2, 2017  
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