“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 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.”
Online Symposium on David Lambert’s How Repentance Became Biblical
Syndicate Network, an online forum for facilitating conversations on topics in the humanities, is currently hosting an online symposium on Prof. David Lambert’s award-winning book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016).
The symposium consists of critical reviews of the book by four scholars of different theoretical perspectives, with subsequent responses by Prof. Lambert leading to further back-and-forth dialogue. This format allows for an in-depth, illuminating exploration of the many issues that the book raises.
The online symposium can be found here. Currently the site has posted the responses of Joel Kaminsky (Smith College) and Susanne Scholz (Southern Methodist University); the responses of Reed Carlson (Harvard Divinity School) and Jeffrey Stackert (University of Chicago) are still to come.
Andrea Dara Cooper is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Fellow in Modern Jewish Thought and Culture. Her current book project explores representations of family in the writings of major Jewish thinkers, and recent courses that she has taught include: “Introduction to Jewish Studies” (RELI 123), “The Sacrifice of Abraham” (RELI 426H: Honors Course), and “Human Animals in Religion and Ethics” (RELI 079: First-Year Seminar).
At the last AJS (Association for Jewish Studies) conference in Boston, Prof. Cooper participated in a session on “Teaching Beyond the Canon: New Approaches to Jewish Studies,” and summarized the pedagogical insights coming out of the session for the AJS website.
Earlier this year, Prof. Cooper was part of a panel at Elon University responding to Geoffrey Claussen’s new book, Sharing the Burden: Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv and the Path of Musar. Prof. Cooper’s remarks highlighted the implications of the book when viewed through the lenses of gender and the human/animal opposition. (The video below begins with Prof. Cooper’s response at the 21:36 mark.)
For an extensive two-part debate (hosted by the “Unbelievable?” radio program) with Richard Bauckham on the relationship of the New Testament Gospels to eyewitness testimony, see the following links: [part 1][part 2]
The following is a 28-minute interview (with the American Freethought podcast) in which Prof. Ehrman discusses some of the main points of the book (the actual interview begins at the 2:44 mark; see also YouTube):
The latest book from Carl Ernst, William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor in Religious Studies, is Refractions of Islam in India: Situating Sufism and Yoga (Sage Publications/Yoda Press, 2016), a collection of some two dozen essays published over Professor Ernst’s decades-long career. From Sage Publications:
“The essays explore Sufism as it developed in the Indian subcontinent, including translations of previously unavailable texts, and revealing unexpected insights into the lives, practices, and teachings of Indian Muslims over nearly a thousand years. They also trace remarkable moments in the history of Muslim engagement with Indian religious and cultural practices. This includes not only Muslim participation in Indian art and literature, but also the extraordinary role that Sufis have played in the practice of yoga. Employing new approaches to religious studies that avoid essentialism and ideological concepts of religion, and shorn of unnecessary jargon, these compelling essays will be easily accessible to a larger audience.”
Lauren Leve, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, has just published a new book, The Buddhist Art of Living in Nepal: Ethical Practice and Religious Reform (Routledge, 2016), as part of the Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism series. From the Routledge website:
“Theravada has experienced a powerful and far-reaching revival, especially among the Newar Buddhist laity, many of whom are reorganizing their lives according to its precepts, practices and ideals. This book documents these far-reaching social and personal transformations and links them to widespread political, economic and cultural shifts associated with late modernity, and especially neoliberal globalization.”
Jessica Boon: New Edition of Juana de la Cruz’s Visionary Sermons
Earlier this year, while on research leave, Jessica Boon published a new co-edited collection of the visionary sermons of the Spanish mystic Mother Juana de la Cruz (1481–1534). In addition to co-editing the entire volume, Professor Boon contributed an introduction and a set of explanatory notes to the sermon translations. From the Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies website:
“Juana de la Cruz (1481–1534) is a unique figure in the history of the Catholic Church, thanks to her public visionary experiences during which she lost consciousness, while a deep voice, identifying itself as Christ, issued from her, narrating the feasts and pageants taking place in heaven. Juana’s so called ‘sermons,’ collected in a manuscript called Libro del Conorte, form a fascinating window into Castilian religiosity in the early sixteenth century. There is much to reap from these sermons concerning Spanish Renaissance culture, theology, mysticism, gender roles, and interreligious interactions.”
Barbara Ambros, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, recently gave an interview with the Marginalia Review of Books regarding her latest monograph, Women in Japanese Religions (New York University Press, 2015). In this substantive 20-minute interview, she discusses the wide scope of the book, the problem of essentialism in approaching the topic, and the history of women in Japanese religious traditions from the medieval to the modern period. To listen to the interview, click here.