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.
“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.’”
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 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.
The 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.”
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!
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.
On Wednesday, April 19, the department held its annual awards ceremony at which we celebrated the accomplishments of our students and faculty over the past year. The ceremony was held in the University Room at Hyde Hall and was followed by a wonderful time of conversation over refreshments. The many recognitions we noted that day include:
Undergraduate Student Awards:
Phi Beta Kappa inductee: Morgan Ferone
Averyl Edwards, “Beyond a Cisgender Genesis: Reading the Creation Narratives Through a Transgender Feminist Lens”
Amrithaa Gunabalan, “An Unknowable Ideal: Objectivism as a New Religious Movement and the Subsequent Institutionalization of Ayn Rand’s Ideas in American Politics”
Bernard Boyd Memorial Prize: Averyl Edwards
Graduate Student Awards:
Peck Prize for Graduate Student Teaching: Joanna Smith
Religious Studies Department Summer Research Awards: Patrick D’Silva, Brad Erickson, Shannon Schorey, Joanna Smith, and Tim Smith
The next of the three winning videos from our RELIxperience Video Contest (titled “Mysticism–What is it?”) was produced by Jessica Coates, Avery Mavroudis, and Marlena Moore, a group of students from Patrick D’Silva’s RELI 165: Mysticism class. The video combines the reactions of various UNC students to the term “mysticism” with reflections on the idea gleaned from the course:
For a list of all our RELIxperience video contest winners, click here.
Brad Erickson, a doctoral student in Ancient Mediterranean Religions and a scholar of ancient Judaism, has incorporated 3-D virtual modeling in his archaeological research to aid in the visualization of ancient synagogues. On Thursday, April 6, Brad participated in the UNC Research Hub Showcase, an event in which scholars from across the university had the opportunity to demonstrate how the resources of the Research Hub have advanced their work. Brad’s station at the event allowed participants to walk through virtual models he created of the ancient synagogues at Sepphoris and Beit Alpha using a virtual reality headset.