Samuel Kessler, who received his PhD from our department in 2016, currently serves as Postdoctoral Fellow in Judaic Studies in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech. Sam recently shared with us the wonderful news that he will assume the post of Assistant Professor of Religion and (inaugural) Bonnier Family Chair in Jewish Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College starting in Fall 2018!
Timur Yuskaev, a PhD graduate of our department who currently serves as Associate Professor of Contemporary Islam at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, has recently published a book titled Speaking Qur’an: An American Scripture (University of South Carolina Press, 2017), which examines the interpretation of the Qur’an among American Muslims. From the University of South Carolina Press website:
“In Speaking Qur’an: An American Scripture, Timur R. Yuskaev examines how Muslim Americans have been participating in their country’s cultural, social, religious, and political life. Essential to this process, he shows, is how the Qur’an has become an ever more deeply American text that speaks to central issues in the lives of American Muslims through the spoken-word interpretations of Muslim preachers, scholars, and activists….
Set within the rapidly transforming contexts of the last half century, and central to the volume, are the issues of cultural translation and embodiment of sacred texts that Yuskaev explores by focusing on the Qur’an as a spoken scripture. The process of the Qur’an becoming an American sacred text, he argues, is ongoing. It comes to life when the Qur’an is spoken and embodied by its American faithful.”
Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst (PhD 2012), who is currently Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Vermont, has recently published a book titled Indian Muslim Minorities and the 1857 Rebellion: Religion, Rebels, and Jihad (I. B. Tauris, 2017). The book examines the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and its implications for our understanding of Islam in the region. From the I. B. Tauris website:
“While jihad has been the subject of countless studies in the wake of recent terrorist attacks, scholarship on the topic has so far paid little attention to South Asian Islam and, more specifically, its place in South Asian history. Seeking to fill some gaps in the historiography, Ilyse R. Morgenstein Fuerst examines the effects of the 1857 Rebellion (long taught in Britain as the ‘Indian Mutiny’) on debates about the issue of jihad during the British Raj. Morgenstein Fuerst shows that the Rebellion had lasting, pronounced effects on the understanding by their Indian subjects (whether Muslim, Hindu or Sikh) of imperial rule by distant outsiders. For India’s Muslims their interpretation of the Rebellion as jihad shaped subsequent discourses, definitions and codifications of Islam in the region. Morgenstein Fuerst concludes by demonstrating how these perceptions of jihad, contextualised within the framework of the 19th century Rebellion, continue to influence contemporary rhetoric about Islam and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent.Drawing on extensive primary source analysis, this unique take on Islamic identities in South Asia will be invaluable to scholars working on British colonial history, India and the Raj, as well as to those studying Islam in the region and beyond.”
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.
The 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.”
Christopher 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.”
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:
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 www.huqoq.org.
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):
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: