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Harshita Kamath Wins Tanner Award for Undergraduate Teaching


Professor Harshita Kamath, who teaches Hinduism and South Asian religions in our department, was one of 25 faculty members honored for university-wide teaching awards during halftime of the UNC men’s basketball game on Jan. 20th vs. Georgia Tech. Prof. Kamath received the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, which “was established to recognize excellence in inspirational teaching of undergraduate students, particularly first- and second-year students.”

For the full list of faculty members receiving awards, click here.

Congratulations, Harshita!

Posted in Faculty News on January 21, 2018  
Carl Ernst: It’s Not Just Academic!

ErnstThe latest book by Carl Ernst, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, is a volume of his essays titled It’s Not Just Academic! Essays on Sufism and Islamic Studies (Sage, 2017). From the Sage Publishing website:

“This collection of articles by Carl W. Ernst summarizes over 30 years of research, recovering and illuminating remarkable examples of Islamic culture that have been largely overlooked, if not forgotten. It opens with reflections on teaching Islam, focusing on major themes such as Sufism, the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, and Arabic literature. The importance of public scholarship and the questionable opposition between Islam and the West are also addressed. The articles that follow explore multiple facets of Sufism, the ethical and spiritual tradition that has flourished in Muslim societies for over a thousand years. The cumulative effect is to move away from static Orientalist depictions of Sufism and Islam through a series of vivid and creative case studies.”

Congratulations, Carl!

Posted in Faculty Publications on January 7, 2018  
New Book by Christopher Frilingos (PhD 2001)

FrilingosChristopher Frilingos (PhD 2001), Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Michigan State University, just published a new book titled Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: Family Trouble in the Infancy Gospels (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). The book explores two examples of early Christian literature known as the “Infancy Gospels,” which offer details on the early lives of Jesus and Mary not contained in the canonical New Testament. From the University of Pennsylvania Press website:

“The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is a collection of stories from the mid-second century C.E. describing events in the life of Jesus between the ages of five and twelve. The Proto-gospel of James, also dating from the second century, focuses on Mary and likewise includes episodes from her childhood. These gospels are often cast aside as marginal character sketches, designed to assure the faithful that signs of divine grace cropped up in the early years of both Mary and Jesus. Christopher A. Frilingos contends instead that the accounts are best viewed as meditations on family. Both gospels offer rich portrayals of household relationships at a time when ancient Christians were locked in a fierce debate about family—not only on the question of what a Christian family ought to look like but also on whether Christians should pursue family life at all.”

Congratulations, Chris!

Posted in Alumni News on December 26, 2017  
Final Performance for “Dance & Embodied Knowledge” Course


On Saturday, December 2nd, students in the course RELI/ASIA/COMM 386, “Dance & Embodied Knowledge in the Indian Context,” held their final performance. This course, taught by Prof. Harshita Kamath, combines discussions of Indian aesthetic theory, Hindu religious narratives, and performance theory with instruction in the basic movements of the South Indian classical dance style of Kuchipudi. As part of the course, students spent the semester learning the piece Narayaniyam in the Kuchipudi style, which they performed on Saturday in full costume with dance bells. See below for pictures from the event:









Posted in Undergraduate Accomplishments on December 6, 2017  

Study Abroad: 2018 Huqoq Excavations with Jodi Magness

UNC students

Since 2011, Prof. Jodi Magness has led archaeological excavations at the site of Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee, where she and her team have garnered international attention for their discovery of an ancient synagogue building with stunning mosaic floors. She is returning to Huqoq in summer 2018 and invites students to participate in the excavation through UNC’s Study Abroad program.

This coming season, the excavations will take place May 31–July 2, 2018. The deadline to apply for the program is February 14, 2018. The field school program (CLAR 650) offers students 6 hours of academic credit.

For more information, including instructions for the online application, see the UNC Study Abroad link here. You can also see the excavation website at

Posted in Faculty News, News & Events on December 1, 2017  
Spring 2018 Course Posters

Spring 2018 registration begins on Nov. 6th (see the Registrar’s website for more information).
Below are the posters describing our Spring 2018 course offerings (click on each poster for a PDF version):


Posted in News & Events on November 6, 2017  
Introduction to New Religious Movements (Spring 2018 Course)

In Spring 2018, Prof. Yaakov Ariel will be teaching RELI 242, Introduction to New Religious Movements, a course that relates to one of his ongoing research interests. See below for a video describing the course:

For more course introduction videos, see here, or go to our YouTube channel.

We will also be holding an undergraduate Course Fair on Tuesday, November 7, at 11:30am in Carolina Hall 124. For more information, see here.

Posted in News & Events on October 29, 2017  
Sex, Gender, and Religion in South Asia (Spring 2018 Course)

Another Spring 2018 course we would like to feature is RELI 482, Sex, Gender, and Religion in South Asia, taught by Professor Harshita Kamath. See the video below for a description of the course:

Two of the theoretical works mentioned in the video can be previewed in the links below:
Gender Trouble, by Judith Butler
The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, by Michel Foucault

For more course introduction videos, see here.

Posted in News & Events on October 26, 2017  
Katie Merriman Featured on NBC Asian America

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!

Posted in Graduate Student News on October 22, 2017  
New Book by Joanne Seiff (M.A., 2001)

SeiffJoanne Seiff (M.A., 2001), a product of our graduate program in Religious Studies, is now a writer based in Winnipeg, Canada, whose opinion pieces appear on the CBC website. Her work on topics in Jewish Studies have also appeared in the Jewish Post & News as well as the Vancouver Jewish Independent. She recently published a book, titled From the Outside In, consisting of a collection of her newspaper columns. A helpful review of the book has recently appeared here. From the review (by Cynthia Ramsay):

“Two things will immediately strike readers of From the Outside In: Jewish Post & News Columns, 2015-2016 by Joanne Seiff – Seiff’s knowledge of Judaism and her empathy. She really knows her Jewish texts, as well as a thing or two about human nature. Yet, she doesn’t criticize from on high. She’s right in there in the muck, so to speak, not just making suggestions for others to carry out, but trying to play a positive role herself in whatever transformations she thinks might engage more Jews in Judaism and in community. Her heart is in the right place, and it shows.”

To read more of Joanne’s writing, see her blog here. For more on the book, click here.

Congratulations, Joanne!

Posted in Alumni News on October 20, 2017  

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