Fall 2017 Courses

Fall 2017 Courses

(Updated 4/5/2017) Course registration for Fall 2017 begins the week of April 4. Below are many of the courses we are offering in the fall semester (click on an image to open the PDF flyer):

Posted in News & Events on March 20, 2017. Bookmark the permalink.

Sand Mandala at UNC’s Asia Week 2017

Sand Mandala at UNC’s Asia Week 2017

Last week, as part of the festivities for UNC’s Asia Week 2017, a Tibetan Monk from the Kadampa Center in Raleigh, Geshe Palden Sangpo, was invited to the FedEx Global Education Center to build a sand mandala over the course of several days. The building of the sand mandala, and its subsequent destruction, are part of an ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition that embodies themes of harmony and the transitoriness of life.

A student in our department, Brodie Heginbotham, who is a double major in Religious Studies and Journalism at UNC, wrote an article describing the event and covering the different dimensions of its significance. To read the article, click here.


Building the sand mandala


The completed sand mandala

Posted in Events, Undergraduate Accomplishments on March 1, 2017. Bookmark the permalink.

McLester Colloquium with Benjamin Zeller

McLester Colloquium with Benjamin Zeller

On Wednesday of last week, our faculty and graduate students gathered in Graham Memorial Building for our first McLester colloquium of 2017. The speaker was Benjamin Zeller, Associate Professor of Religion at Lake Forest College and a PhD graduate (2007) of our department. In his lecture, titled “Religious Suicide and the Puzzling Case of Heaven’s Gate,” he gave a historical overview and analysis of the religious movement known as Heaven’s Gate, which drew media attention in 1997 after several dozen of its members committed mass suicide at their group residence in Rancho Santa Fe, California.


Prof. Benjamin Zeller


Question from the audience

At the beginning of the event, Susan McLester Kemmerlin, daughter of Bill McLester (after whom the colloquium is named), presented our department with a beautiful stitching of UNC’s academic seal!

UNC stitching

Susan McLester Kemmerlin with department chair Randall Styers

See you soon at the next McLester colloquium!

Posted in Alumni News, Events, Graduate Student News on February 23, 2017. Bookmark the permalink.

Boyd Fellowship Deadline–February 20

Boyd Fellowship Deadline–February 20

The Boyd Fellowship is an $11,000 fellowship given annually to a major or double-major in the Department of Religious Studies who plans to pursue either graduate or professional education in religion. Current majors, as well as those who graduate the preceding year but did not immediately enter graduate or professional school in religion, are eligible.

The application deadline this year is February 20, 2017, so if you are interested, take note!

For details on how to apply, click here. Specific questions about the fellowship can also be directed to our Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Posted in News & Events on January 26, 2017. Bookmark the permalink.

The 9 Biggest Archaeology Findings of 2016: Noah’s Ark Mosaic

The 9 Biggest Archaeology Findings of 2016: Noah’s Ark Mosaic

Donkeys in Noah's Ark

The Noah’s Ark mosaic from the site of Huqoq, discovered this past summer by Prof. Jodi Magness and her team, was just selected by Live Science as one of “The 9 Biggest Archaeology Findings of 2016!”

To view the list, click here.

For more on the Huqoq excavations, including how to participate in the 2017 season, click here.

Posted in Faculty News on December 30, 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

Katie Merriman Article in The Funambulist Magazine

Katie Merriman Article in The Funambulist Magazine

FunambulistKatie Merriman, a PhD student in our department specializing in Islamic Studies, has recently published an article in The Funambulist: Politics of Space and Bodies, an international magazine that bridges the worlds of design and critical research in the humanities. The November-December 2016 issue is on the topic of “Police,” and Merriman’s article, titled “New York City: Multiracial Struggles and Solidarities in Islamic Harlem,” describes a series of sites in Harlem, New York highlighting the multiracial history of Muslims in the city. The article is based on a free walking tour of the area that Merriman conducts on a regular basis. From the beginning of the article:

“Harlem is home to only a handful of New York City’s nearly 300 mosques, but its history is a testament to the presence of Muslim institutions, leaders, and literature as solace and a form of resistance to white supremacy. Moreover, Muslims are part of a larger tradition that sees Harlem as a sacred site for black brilliance and rejuvenation.”

Along the way, Merriman discusses a wide range of events, figures, and themes, including: the Bengali labor strikes, Malcolm X, a Senegalese Sufi saint, international intellectual networks, multiracial civic initiatives, halal restaurants, police brutality, immigration law, and the growing impact of gentrification on communities and their sacred spaces.

To see the contents of the issue, and to purchase access to the full article (digital and/or print versions), click here.

Masjid Malcolm Shabazz

Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, Harlem, New York

Posted in Graduate Student News on December 15, 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

Featured Spring 2017 Courses

Featured Spring 2017 Courses

(Updated Dec. 9) With spring semester approaching, we will periodically highlight upcoming courses that may be of special interest to students. Here are just four among the many that our department is offering in Spring 2017:

RELI 143: Judaism in Our Time [course flyer]
Instructor: Yaakov Ariel (yariel@email.unc.edu)
TuTh 9:30AM-10:45AM (Gen Eds: SS, GL)

This course aims at providing a panoramic view of Jewish life, culture, practices, and challenges in our time. It will explore the diverse ethnic, geographical, political, literary, artistic, and communal forms in which Judaism has found expression in our generation and will offer students an opportunity to study the manner in which social and cultural changes affect religious practices and norms.

RELI/GERM 227: Luther and the Bible [course flyer]
Instructor: Ruth von Bernuth (rvb@email.unc.edu)
MoWe 1:25PM-2:15PM, plus recitation (Gen Eds: HS, WB)

What is the legacy of the Protestant Reformation on modern life today? Learn how Reformation ideas have influenced religion, society, economics, and politics from early modern to modern times. Readings include Luther’s On the Freedom of a Christian and That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew, Melanchthon’s The Pope-Ass Explained, Brant’s Ship of Fools, as well as hymns, carnival plays, and Bible translations. The only prerequisite: an inquiring mind. (Readings and class discussions in English.)

RELI 566: Islamic and Jewish Legal Literature [course flyer]
Instructor: Evyatar Marienberg (evyatarm@unc.edu) and Ahmed El Shamsy (University of Chicago)
Th 3:30PM-6:20PM (Gen Eds: PH, WB)

This course, on both Jewish and Islamic law, will be co-taught by Dr. Ahmed El Shamsy (Chicago, Islamic Law) and Dr. Evyatar Marienberg (UNC, Jewish Law), using videoconferencing technology, combining the two classrooms to one. We will explore the nature, structure, development, and significance of the legal system of each of these two religions. We will explore laws about food, holidays, prayer, finances, relations to other groups, sexuality, the status of women, medical treatment, and more. No need to have any background in Hebrew or Arabic: all texts will be provided in English, and no previous knowledge on Islam or Judaism will be assumed.

RELI 580: African-American Islam [course flyer]
Instructor: Juliane Hammer (jhammer@email.unc.edu)
TuTh 2:00PM-3:15PM (Gen Eds: HS, GL, NA; research intensive)

Who was Malcolm X? What’s hip hop got to do with Islam? Is Islam an American religion? What is the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative? Find out the answers to these questions and more in RELI 580: African-American Islam!

Posted in News & Events on December 7, 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

Online Symposium on David Lambert’s How Repentance Became Biblical

Online Symposium on David Lambert’s How Repentance Became Biblical

LambertSyndicate 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.

Posted in Faculty News, Faculty Publications on November 30, 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

Carl Ernst: Podcast Interview on Islamophobia

Carl Ernst: Podcast Interview on Islamophobia

Ultimate ConcernsProfessor Carl Ernst recently conducted an interview with the Ultimate Concerns podcast on the topic of “American Islamophobia,” in which he addressed the many dimensions of this problem, from the possible causes of Islamophobia to the ways in which one might respond. The discussion relates to the topic of his edited book, Islamophobia in America: The Anatomy of Intolerance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

For the podcast interview, click here.

“Ultimate Concerns” is a podcast on religion and culture hosted by Ron Mourad, Professor of Religious Studies at Albion College and a graduate (B.A. 1994) of our department. For more information click here.

Posted in Faculty News on November 25, 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

RELIxperience Undergrad Video Contest

RELIxperience Undergrad Video Contest

Video Contest

We are excited to announce our first ever RELIxperience Undergraduate Video Contest! Submit a video up to five minutes long focused on religion at UNC: this could be how you found your way into Religious Studies, interviews with your favorite professors or TAs, or your favorite UNC traditions. The more creative, the better!

The top three submissions will each receive a $100 prize and be featured on the Department of Religious Studies website!

The contest is open to any undergraduate who has taken a RELI course. (Group submissions should include at least one member who has taken a RELI course.)

The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2017. Contact Professor Joseph Lam (jclam@email.unc.edu) on how to submit your video file, or if you have any other questions.

Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE (2/1/2017):
Here is an official waiver form that needs to be filled out (by everyone who appears in the video) and submitted before prize money can be given out. (You can submit the forms along with the video if you wish.)

Posted in News & Events on November 2, 2016. Bookmark the permalink.