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Dr. Charles H. Long (1926-2020)

Last month, we mourned the passing of a former faculty member in our department, Dr. Charles H. Long, who taught at Carolina from 1974 to 1987 as the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor in Religious Studies. In addition to UNC, Dr. Long also taught at the University of Chicago, Syracuse University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies. He served as the president of the American Academy of Religion in 1973.

An obituary, posted on the American Academy of Religion website, can be viewed here.

We post here a link to a lecture that Dr. Long gave in 2013 on “America and the Academic Study of Religion: Hermeneutics and Method,” which provides a glimpse of his work and approach (the lecture begins at 5:35 of the video):

Posted in News & Events on March 3, 2020  
McLester Colloquium with Pamela Klassen

This Wednesday, February 26, we were pleased to hear from Dr. Pamela Klassen at this month’s McLester Colloquium on “Metals and Memory: Gold and the Metaphysics of Colonial Territory.”

Pamela Klassen is a Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion, cross-appointed to Anthropology, at the University of Toronto, where she is also Vice-Dean, Undergraduate & International in the Faculty of Arts & Science. She teaches in the areas of the anthropology and history of Christianity and colonialism in North America, religion in the public sphere, and religion, law, media, and gender.

We were grateful for the opportunity to hear from Professor Klassen on this fascinating topic.

Posted in Graduate Student News, News & Events on February 27, 2020  
Kathryn Lofton (PhD 2005) named Dean of the Humanities at Yale University

Dr. Kathryn Lofton (PhD 2005), a leading scholar of religion in contemporary culture and a graduate of our PhD program in American religions, has recently been appointed Dean of the Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale University for an additional four years through June 2024, after serving as Acting Dean for the 2019-20 academic year. She has taught at Yale since 2009 and currently holds the position of Professor of Religious Studies, American Studies, History, and Divinity.

Dr. Lofton served as the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony keynote speaker here at Carolina in 2018. A video of her address can be viewed here.

We congratulate Katie on this tremendous honor, and look forward to the important work she will do in this new role in advancing the study of the humanities at Yale and beyond.

Posted in Alumni News on February 19, 2020  
2020 Majors and Minors Dinner

On Tuesday, February 11, we held our annual Religious Studies Majors and Minors dinner with undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty in attendance. Our speaker this year was John Miller, a graduate of UNC’s Religious Studies department and the UNC School of Law. He is currently a first-year PhD student in Religious Studies, on the Islamic studies track. It was a great time–thanks to all who came!

Some of our wonderful students and their new Religious Studies shirts!

Our speaker for the evening, John Miller

Posted in News & Events on February 14, 2020  

McLester Colloquium with Paula Fredriksen

Last Wednesday, January 29, Paula Fredriksen, the Aurelio Professor of Scripture emerita at Boston University, presented on the topic of “Urban Fires, Roman Emperors, and the Persecution of Christians” at the first McLester Seminar of 2020. Since 2009, Professor Fredriksen has been Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she also holds two honorary doctorates in theology and religious studies. We were grateful for the opportunity to hear from Dr. Fredriksen on this fascinating topic, and the talk was followed by a wonderful time of conversation over refreshments.

Posted in Graduate Student News, News & Events on February 3, 2020  
Prof. Marienberg on Sting and Religion

Professor Evyatar Marienberg published a guest blog post on the University of Toronto Press website called “When a rock star whose picture you had on your wall as a teenager becomes your topic of academic study as an adult.” He describes his project on the religious themes in Sting’s music and life. Prof. Marienberg also highlights a recent article in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, “O My God: Religion in Sting’s Early Lyrics.”

From the blog post:

“We are all influenced, in different ways, by popular culture. Our popular culture is influenced, in different ways, by religion. What occurs when those among us who are not only influenced by, but actually contribute much to, the popular culture around us, have religion influence them as well? This result is of particular interest for me, and for many of those writing for this journal.

“Having contemporary Catholicism as one of my main fields of interest, I quickly realized that Sting represents the type of Catholics I am most interested in: those who were born about a decade before the Second Council of the Vatican (a meeting of the world’s Catholic bishops from 1962 to 1965), which brought huge changes to Catholicism.”

Posted in Faculty News, Faculty Publications on January 31, 2020  
Masada by Jodi Magness: 2019 National Jewish Book Award Finalist

Professor Jodi Magness’s recent book, Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth, was selected as a finalist for the 2019 National Jewish Book Award in History (the Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award). The Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards were estab­lished by the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil in 1950 in order to rec­og­nize out­stand­ing works of Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture.

From a review of the book by Gila Wertheimer:

“In her new book, Masa­da: From Jew­ish Revolt to Mod­ern Myth, Mag­ness re-exam­ines the sto­ry of Masa­da, set­ting it in its his­tor­i­cal con­text dur­ing the peri­od of the Sec­ond Tem­ple. As part of this she includes the fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries of 19th cen­tu­ry explor­ers who trav­elled to the area, many search­ing for bib­li­cal sites, but on their return pro­vid­ed valu­able infor­ma­tion about the inhos­pitable region. She address­es ques­tions some schol­ars have today about the accu­ra­cy of the sto­ry of mass sui­cide, tak­en from the mul­ti-vol­ume The Jew­ish War by the Jew­ish his­to­ri­an Flav­ius Jose­phus… Mag­ness has man­aged the dif­fi­cult feat of writ­ing for both the schol­ar and the inter­est­ed non-spe­cial­ist read­er. There is plen­ty of archae­o­log­i­cal detail and descrip­tion, which comes with the his­to­ry of the area as well as top­ics such as how the Jews got to Masa­da, how they sur­vived, and how the desert fortress became part of the foun­da­tion­al sto­ry of the mod­ern state of Israel.”

Congratulations, Jodi!

Posted in Faculty News, Faculty Publications on January 21, 2020  
Travis Proctor (PhD 2017) Wins Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award

Travis Proctor (PhD 2017) has won the 2020 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise for his dissertation ‘Rulers of the Air: Demonic Bodies and the Making of the Ancient Christian Cosmos’. The Lautenschlaeger Award is awarded to ten scholars each year for an outstanding doctoral dissertation or first book in the fields of religious and theological studies, and comes with a monetary prize. As he describes the award-winning work:

“My dissertation project addressed a significant yet under-explored aspect of Christian spirituality: the impact of nonhuman malevolent entities (i.e., demons, evil spirits) on the ritual performance and embodiment of Christian piety. First, I demonstrated how early Christian authors (ca. 50-300 CE) formulated their conceptions of the divine and humanity in tandem with their constructions of their malevolent adversaries. Second, I examined how these conceptions informed Christian ritual practice (e.g., exorcism, baptism, ritual contemplation). In this way, my project traced the ways in which early Christian theologies and demonologies materialized through specific ritual repertoires, and thus had a significant impact on Christian theology and spirituality.”

Travis is currently an Assistant Professor of Religion at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Congratulations, Travis!

Posted in Alumni News on January 15, 2020  
New Book by Brannon Ingram (PhD 2011)

Brannon Ingram, a 2011 PhD graduate of our department, has recently published his first book, Revival from Below: The Deoband Movement and Global Islam:

“The Deoband movement—a revivalist movement within Sunni Islam that quickly spread from colonial India to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and even the United Kingdom and South Africa—has been poorly understood and sometimes feared. Despite being one of the most influential Muslim revivalist movements of the last two centuries, Deoband’s connections to the Taliban have dominated the attention it has received from scholars and policy-makers alike. Revival from Below offers an important corrective, reorienting our understanding of Deoband around its global reach, which has profoundly shaped the movement’s history. In particular, the author tracks the origins of Deoband’s controversial critique of Sufism, how this critique travelled through Deobandi networks to South Africa, as well as the movement’s efforts to keep traditionally educated Islamic scholars (`ulama) at the center of Muslim public life. The result is a nuanced account of this global religious network that argues we cannot fully understand Deoband without understanding the complex modalities through which it spread beyond South Asia.”

Brannon is currently an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Northwestern University.

Congratulations, Brannon!

Posted in Alumni News on January 5, 2020  
Religion, Politics and Culture in Israel (Spring 2020 Course)

Our department is offering a brand new course next semester, taught by Professor Yaakov Ariel. It is called Religion, Politics and Culture in Israel (RELI 343) and represents a great addition to our selection of courses. There is still room in the course, so don’t miss your chance to take it and add it to your Spring 2020 schedules!

“The course offers a panoramic view and analytical understanding of Israel’s culture, politics and religious life and groups, as well as a window into the political, religious, and ethnic realities of the Middle East at large. The course will offer an opportunity to study the religious communities operating in the country and their relationship with the Israeli state, as well as the place of religion in the international relations and global policies of Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East.”


Posted in News & Events on December 10, 2019  
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