New Book by Calvin Lane (UNC 2002)

Calvin Lane (UNC 2002) has published Spirituality and Reform: Christianity in the West, ca1000-1800 (Lexington / Fortress).

From the Lexington/ Fortress Press Website:

“In colorful detail, Calvin Lane explores the dynamic intersection between reform movements and everyday Christian practice from ca. 1000 to ca. 1800. Lowering the artificial boundaries between “the Middle Ages,” “the Reformation,” and “the Enlightenment,” Lane brings to life a series of reform programs each of which developed new sensibilities about what it meant to live the Christian life. Along this tour, Lane discusses music, art, pilgrimage, relics, architecture, heresy, martyrdom, patterns of personal prayer, changes in marriage and family life, connections between church bodies and governing authorities, and certainly worship. The thread that he finds running from the Benedictine revival in the eleventh century to the pietistic movements of the eighteenth is a passionate desire to return to a primitive era of Christianity, a time of imagined apostolic authenticity, even purity. In accessible language, he introduces readers to Cistercians and Calvinists, Franciscans and Jesuits, Lutherans and Jansenists, Moravians and Methodists to name but a few of the many reform movements studied in this book. Although Lane highlights their diversity, he argues that each movement rooted its characteristic practice – their spirituality – in an imaginative recovery of the apostolic life.”

Dr. Lane is currently an adjunct professor in history at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio as well as an affiliate professor at an Episcopal seminary in Wisconsin, Nashotah House.

Congratulations, Calvin!

Ph.D. Candidate Katherine Merriman on New York City’s Forgotten Muslim Past

UNC Religious Studies Ph.D. Candidate Katherine Merriman was recently featured in the New Yorker discussing the Muslim History Tour she leads in New York City.

From the New Yorker:

“For the past four years, Merriman has been giving Muslim-history tours of Trump’s home town, focussing on Harlem. ‘There are roughly three hundred mosques in New York City,’ she said the other day. ‘New York is one of the most, if not the most, diverse Muslim cities in the world. There is no such thing as a ‘Muslim world’ somewhere else.’

…This summer, Merriman will start a Wall Street-area tour, which will cover Little Syria and the site of the Ottoman mosque on Rector Street. She told the group, ‘Your job is to keep these stories alive.’”

Katherine’s Muslim History Tour of New York City was also recently featured in the New York Times.

Congratulations, Katherine!

 

Recent Discoveries by Professor Jodi Magness’s Team at Huqoq

A team of specialists and students at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee led by UNC Religious Studies Professor Jodi Magness have discovered unparalleled mosaics that shed new light on the life and culture of an ancient Jewish village.

From the UNC College of Arts and Sciences website:

The discoveries indicate villagers flourished under early fifth century Christian rule, contradicting a widespread view that Jewish settlement in the region declined during that period. The large size and elaborate interior decoration of the Huqoq synagogue point to an unexpected level of prosperity.

“The mosaics decorating the floor of the Huqoq synagogue revolutionize our understanding of Judaism in this period,” said Magness. “Ancient Jewish art is often thought to be aniconic, or lacking images. But these mosaics, colorful and filled with figured scenes, attest to a rich visual culture as well as to the dynamism and diversity of Judaism in the Late Roman and Byzantine periods.”

More images and coverage of the dig can be found at the Times of Israel, the News and Observer, and Hyperallergic.

Congratulations to Jodi and the team!

 

New Book by Gregory A. Lipton (PhD 2013)

Gregory A. Lipton, a PhD graduate of our department, has recently published a book titled Rethinking Ibn ‘Arabi (Oxford University Press, 2018), which offers a critique of the interpretive field of Frithjof Schuon, or Schuonian Perennialism, and challenges long-held preconceptions of both Ibn ‘Arabi and Perennialism. From the Oxford University Press website:

“The thirteenth century mystic Ibn `Arabi was the foremost Sufi theorist of the premodern era. For more than a century, Western scholars and esotericists have heralded his universalism, arguing that he saw all contemporaneous religions as equally valid. In Rethinking Ibn `Arabi, Gregory Lipton calls this image into question and throws into relief how Ibn `Arabi’s discourse is inseparably intertwined with the absolutist vision of his own religious milieu–that is, the triumphant claim that Islam fulfilled, superseded, and therefore abrogated all previous revealed religions.

Lipton juxtaposes Ibn `Arabi’s absolutist conception with the later reception of his ideas, exploring how they have been read, appropriated, and universalized within the reigning interpretive field of Perennial Philosophy in the study of Sufism. The contours that surface through this comparative analysis trace the discursive practices that inform Ibn `Arabi’s Western reception back to the eighteenth and nineteenth century study of ‘authentic’ religion, where European ethno-racial superiority was wielded against the Semitic Other-both Jewish and Muslim. Lipton argues that supersessionist models of exclusivism are buried under contemporary Western constructions of religious authenticity in ways that ironically mirror Ibn `Arabi’s medieval absolutism.”

Dr. Lipton will be joining the faculty of High Point University in the fall.

Congratulations, Gregory!

 

Kathryn Lofton Keynote Address

On Saturday, May 12, Dr. Kathryn Lofton, (PhD UNC 2005), Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, delivered the keynote address at UNC’s Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. Dr. Lofton is a historian of religion who has written extensively about capitalism, celebrity, sexuality, and the concept of the secular. In her work, she has examined the ways the history of religion is constituted by the history of popular culture and the emergence of corporations in modernity. You can watch Dr. Lofton’s Keynote Address below:

 

Benjamin White receives NEH stipend

Benjamin White, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Clemson University, has been awarded a Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  He received the stipend to support his project “The Authorship of the Pauline Epistles: The Promise and Limitations of Computational Methods.”

He was one of 65 scholars around the country selected to receive 2018 grants through the NEH Summer Stipends program, out of a field of nearly 800 applicants.

Dr. White received his Ph.D. in Ancient Mediterranean Religions from UNC in 2011.

Congratulations, Benjamin!

 

2018 Department Awards Ceremony

On Wednesday, April 18, the department held its annual awards ceremony at which we celebrated the accomplishments of our students and faculty over the past year. The ceremony was held in the Graduate Student Center and was followed by a wonderful time of conversation over refreshments. The many recognitions we noted that day include:

Undergraduate Student Awards:

Halperin-Schütz Undergraduate Essay Awards:

Ingrid Kottke, “Witchcraft as Crime in the Treatises of King James VI and I and Matthew Hopkins”

Sydra Siddiqui, “Narratives of Healing and Personhood in Indian and Tanzanian Society”

Bernard Boyd Memorial Prize: Sydra Siddiqui

Graduate Student Awards:

Peck Prize for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence: Miguel Vargas

Religious Studies Department Summer Research Awards:

Isaiah Ellis,“American Architecture and American Religion: A Case Study in the Spiritual Valences of the Urban West”

Joanna Smith, “Secrecy, Limits, and the Configuration of Bodies at the Modern Slaughterhouse”

GSOC Peer Recognition Teaching Award: Ehsan Sheikholharam  

 

Halperin-Schütz Undergraduate Essay Awards

Announcing the winners of the Halperin-Schütz Undergraduate Essay Award:

Named in honor of David J. Halperin (Rabbinic Judaism) and John Howard Schütz (New Testament), former faculty members of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Religious Studies who were influential on a generation of students through their interdisciplinary and collaborative teaching, this essay competition recognizes undergraduate scholarship in the study of religion.

The winners are Ingrid Kottke, for a Capstone paper in RELI 697: “Witchcraft as Crime in the Treatises of King James VI and I and Matthew Hopkins;” and Sydra Siddiqui, for a selection from the Honors thesis, “Construction of The Body and Personhood: A Comparative Analysis of Religious and Indigenous Healing Practices in India and Tanzania,” Chapter 2: “Narratives of Healing and Personhood in Indian and Tanzanian Society.”

Congratulations to the winners!