Katie Merriman, a Ph.D. candidate in Islamic Studies in our department, is the founder of Muslim History Tours NYC, a walking tour of Harlem, New York covering important locations related to Muslim history in the city. (This was previously covered on our website here.)
Katie was just featured in a video on NBC discussing the tour:
The video can also be found here. Wonderful work, Katie!
Catholicism Today: Introduction to Contemporary Catholicism (Spring 2018 Course)
We are pleased to unveil a new feature on our website: course introduction videos! These videos are meant to give students a more personal introduction to some of our upcoming courses through the voices of our professors. Watch for these videos on the homepage of our website in the coming weeks, as Spring 2018 registration approaches.
The first course we would like to highlight is RELI 162, Catholicism Today: Introduction to Contemporary Catholicism. Click the video below for a description of the course from Professor Evyatar Marienberg:
Statement by the UNC Chapel Hill Department of Religious Studies concerning “Silent Sam” October 4, 2017
It is impossible to study religion without recognizing the importance of cultural, social, and political diversity, the enormous power of material objects, and the profound ways in which the past pervades the present. The Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam” exerts the ongoing power of white supremacy on our campus. As religious studies scholars, we are particularly aware that it was erected as an icon of social inequity and that white nationalist groups today have invested its presence on campus with sacred value.
In his 1913 speech dedicating the statue, Julian S. Carr celebrated the “sacrifice” of Confederate soldiers, the purity of “the Anglo Saxon” as a “Christian race,” and God’s providential blessing of the southern states in order to sanctify racial violence, a violence that continues today against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. “Silent Sam” still enjoys the privilege of sacred space on this campus, not only raised high but also guarded by cameras, police, and sometimes barricades. Allowing this statue to remain in McCorkle Place contradicts the university’s policy on non-discrimination, which states that “The University is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment.”
In her August 30th, 2017 email, Chancellor Carol Folt called on the campus community to “promote robust dialogue and debate” in an effort to encourage and protect free speech. In order to demonstrate its sincere commitment to the freedom of expression, the University must end its policies curtailing student activism around the statue and throughout the campus. Their material, embodied, and creative counter-narratives provide a vital service in challenging the legacy and ongoing threat of white supremacy.
The Department of Religious Studies calls for the removal of “Silent Sam” from McCorkle Place and the full protection of the student activists’ freedom of political expression.
Last Wednesday, September 27, Dr. Kent Brintnall of UNC-Charlotte joined us for the first of our McLester Colloquia for the academic year. At Charlotte, Dr. Brintnall is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies as well as the Director of the Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. This event was co-sponsored by the Program in Sexuality Studies here at UNC-Chapel Hill.
In a lecture titled “‘Forgetting Freud’: The Drive for Religion,” Brintnall offered a creative exploration of the development of Freud’s thought, drawing implications for contemporary understandings of religion. The lecture was thought-provoking and generated many questions and responses from the faculty and graduate students present. As usual, the lecture was followed by a time of casual conversation over refreshments.
Translating Islam: A Conference in Honor of Carl Ernst (Oct 6-7)
Professor Carl Ernst, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor in Religious Studies, has devoted his academic life to translating Islam, linguistically and culturally. From his first book, Words of Ecstasy in Sufism (1985), to his most recent book, co-edited with Fabrizio Speziale, Perso-Indica: An Analytical Survey of Persian Works on Indian Learned Traditions (2017), he has focused on how Islamic concepts have traveled across time and space. This conference, organized around themes in Islamic studies that Ernst’s work has addressed, evokes and expands on the major contributions of this fertile, creative translator of texts, ideas, and traditions within the orb of Islam.
The conference will take place October 6-7, 2017 at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Downtown Chapel Hill/Carrboro (370 E. Main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510).
For more information, including registration and schedule, consult the conference website here.
Nag Hammadi Conference and David Brakke Keynote Lecture (Oct 6)
On October 5-7, UNC-Chapel Hill will host the Annual Meeting of the Nag Hammadi and Gnosticism Network, a group devoted to the study of the Coptic treatises of the Nag Hammadi Codices found in 1945 as well as other Coptic literature. As part of this conference, on Friday, October 6th, Professor David Brakke (Ohio State University) will deliver a keynote address entitled, “The Gnostic Origins of Christian Biblical Interpretation: From Gospel to Commentary.” All are invited to attend this event (Howell Hall 115, 4pm).
David Brakke is an expert on the history and literature of ancient Christianity who has authored or edited twelve books as well as written over 40 peer-reviewed articles and books chapters within the field of late ancient studies. From 2005 to 2015 Dr. Brakke served as editor of the Journal of Early Christian Studies. He is now the president of the International Association for Coptic Studies and a member of the Board of Consultants of the Journal of Religion.
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.