On the Job Market
This page introduces advanced doctoral candidates and recent graduates from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill currently seeking teaching appointments in the following fields:
Jason A. Staples
Fields of Specialization: New Testament; Early Judaism; Early and Late Antique Christianity; Jewish-Christian Relations
Research Interests: New Testament and Christian Origins; Jewish-Christian Relations; Apocalypticism and Eschatology; Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; Race and Ethnicity; Middle Platonism; Stoicism; Ancient Rhetoric; Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha; Textual Criticism; Sociology of Religion; Sociology of Sport
Professional Biography: My primary research focuses on the origins of Christianity and the intersections between various forms of Early Judaism and earliest Christianity, particularly early Christian appropriation of the texts and heritage of Israel in new contexts for identity formation, apologetics, and the drawing of community boundary lines. My work also engages with ancient conceptions of ethnicity in antiquity and applies modern theoretical and social-scientific approaches in the context of historical-critical studies of religious traditions and communities.
My dissertation examines how the concept of “Israel” was constructed and contested among Jews, Samaritans, and (eventually) Christians in the Second Temple period. It explores how varying understandings of Israelite identity and expectations of Israel’s glorious eschatological restoration helped set the boundaries between Jews and Samaritans, various Jewish sects, and eventually Jews and Christians. Beyond that, the study demonstrates that hopes for Israel’s restoration were not only central to the origins of Christianity but were also paradoxically instrumental to the inclusion of gentiles in the primitive church as evidenced in the letters of the apostle Paul.
Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill
M.A., Emory University
B.A., Arizona State University
Research Interests: Religion in America; religion and media; Jewish studies; science and technology studies; theories of play; critical theory; cultural studies; ethnography
Dissertation: “Born Again Digital: The Video Game Worlds of Bible Believing America”
Summary: My dissertation explores the creative engagements of American Evangelicals with digital technologies and the cultural narratives of promise and danger that surround them. Since 1982 approximately 300 video games have been created for Evangelical players, and my dissertation applies methods from both religious studies and science and technology studies to give them their first systematic theoretical elaboration. These games are sites where diverse expert systems interact – players, programmers, game critics, and computer programs themselves colluding to create new theological formations and religious worlds. Thus they offer critical vantage upon the diverse ways that contemporary religious practice is changing and being changed by digital media more generally, from kosher cell phones, to Pagan online dating.
Matthew W. Dougherty
Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill, 2017
M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 2011
B.A., Amherst College, 2008
Professional Biography: I am a historian of religion in the Americas who writes about the interactions between religions and empires in what is now Mexico, Canada, and the United States from c. 1700-1850. My broader interests include North American religions, Native American religions, the history of Christianity, religion in Latin America, and religion and land.
I am also an award-winning teacher who has designed and taught classes in such areas as North American religions, the history of Christianity since 1500, religion and politics in the United States, and religion, race, and ethnicity. I excel at teaching students to develop both critical and empathetic approaches to religious difference by reading historical texts in conversation with theories of religion.
My dissertation, “Land of the Jewish Indians: How the Hebrew Bible made race and territory in the early United States,” traces the influence in the early United States of the “Jewish Indian theory,” that is, the idea that Native Americans were descended from Ancient Israelites. It argues that white evangelicals, Native Americans, American Jews, and early Mormons all told stories about “Israelite Indians” to make claims to land and political sovereignty in the context of rapid territorial expansion. It contributes to our understanding of religion and politics in North America by showing that a broad range of Americans, not just white Protestants concerned with their country’s “manifest destiny” to rule the continent, used religious narratives to understand U.S. expansion.
My dissertation work has led to an article in the Journal of Mormon History as well as presentations at the American Academy of Religion and American Society of Church History annual meetings. I am currently writing a monograph based on my dissertation, tentatively titled Land of the Jewish Indians: Religious speculation and the birth of Manifest Destiny.