Samah Choudhury to Attend 2019 American Examples Workshop

Samah Choudhury has been chosen as an American Examples scholar. Her dissertation delves into humor and Islam in America, specifically at how American Muslim comedians utilize humor as a mode of self-constructing and then articulating “Islam” for an American public. She is invited to attend a workshop that will culminate in a volume of papers to be submitted for publication in the NAASR Working Papers series published by Equinox.

“AE seeks scholars that see the Americas as an important site for analyzing and theorizing about religion. The study of religion in America, or American religious history, has most often sought to discover what is uniquely “American” about American religion.” -Read more about American Examples.

Congratulations, Samah!

Carolina Stories Magazine Features Huqoq Mosaics and Professor Jodi Magness’ Annual Expedition

Professor Jodi Magness‘ annual summer expedition to Huqoq brings students together to uncover ancient mosaics depicting biblical scenes. This is the 111th story in the Carolina Stories Magazine, a Magazine published to highlight the achievements made possible through Carolina Giving.

Photo by Jim Haberman

“This is by far the most extensive series of biblical stories ever found decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue,” said Magness. “The arrangement of the mosaics in panels on the floor brings to mind the synagogue at Dura Europos in Syria, where an array of biblical stories is painted in panels on the walls.” – Read more in an earlier edition of the Carolina Stories Magazine

Update: The Mosaics, and the story behind them, have been featured on The National Geographic and Fox News. For the latest news coverage of the Huqoq mosaics please visit the Huqoq Excavation Project website.

Dr. Joel Baden on Bible Nation: the United States of Hobby Lobby

On Wednesday, October 24th, Dr. Joel Baden of Yale Divinity School joined us for our second McLester Seminar. He spoke about his latest book, Bible Nation: the United States of Hobby Lobby, co-authored with Dr. Candida Moss, Professor at the University of Birmingham. His talk focused on the rise of the millionaires behind Hobby Lobby, their unparalleled acquisition of biblical antiquities for their Museum of the Bible, and the role and responsibility of academics in approaching this as a subject of study. As usual, the lecture was followed by casual conversation over refreshments.

Looking forward to the next McLester Colloquium!


UNC Expedition in Nepal with Professor Lauren Leve

A team of scholars from across disciplines traveled to Nepal to study the impacts of climate change on Buddhist holy lakes. The interdisciplinary team included two mathematicians (Department Chair Rich McLaughlin and Roberto Camassa), a marine scientist (Harvey Seim), and Religious Studies Professor Lauren Leve.

Image from UNC College of Arts & Sciences Magazine

From the UNC Arts & Sciences Magazine:

“Leve laid the groundwork for interviewing local people about their understanding of the impacts of climate change. She also became a critical cultural translator when the group ran into major roadblocks days into the research expedition. Negotiating with the competing parties involved in granting research permissions fell right in line with her research, which looks at religion as a window into understanding cultural change.”

Congratulations Lauren and the team!

Dr. Zlatko Pleše appointed Adjunct Professor at the University of Bern

The University of Bern, Switzerland has appointed Dr. Zlatko Pleše as an Adjunct Professor at the Institute of New Testament Studies. This is a three-year appointment, through August 31st, 2021. Dr. Pleše specializes in ancient philosophy and medicine, early Christianity, Hellenistic rhetoric and hermeneutics, and Coptic language, and he will be continuing this research with Prof. Rainer Hirsch-Luipold at the University of Bern.


Congratulations, Zlatko!


Isaac Weiner and Amy DeRogatis awarded Luce Foundation Grant for American Religious Sounds Project

Amy DeRogatis (PhD UNC 1998), Professor of Religious Studies at Michigan State University, and Isaac Weiner (PhD UNC 2009), Associate Professor of Comparative Studies and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Religion at The Ohio State University, have been awarded a three year, $750,000 grant issued by The Henry Luce Foundation’s Theology Program for the American Religious Sounds Project.

The ARSP is a multiyear, collaborative initiative co-directored by Weiner and DeRogatis. The project aims to study religious diversity by documenting and interpreting the auditory cultures of the various religions in the United States. The project has grown since its first developments aided by a 2015 grant awarded by Humanities Without Walls. This new grant will allow geographic expansion, long-term preservation and accessibility, interpretive scholarship, and community engagement.

Congratulations, Amy and Isaac!

Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer: From Muslim Cool to Umi’s Archive

Professor Su’ad Abdul Khabeer joined us for the the first of our McLester Colloquia for the Fall semester. Dr. Abdul Khabeer is Associate Professor of American Culture and Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan and received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Princeton University. She is a scholar-artist-activist who uses anthropology and performance to explore the intersections of race and popular culture.

Dr. Abdul Khabeer’s  talk included both prose and performance. She explored what the Black Muslim experience – belief, cultural practice, and intellectual thought – offers theoretically, methodologically and for political praxis within and outside the academy. The talk, directed towards graduate students, focused on the evolution of her research from Muslim Cool to, and illustrated how personal family history can inform the approach to the history of Islam in America.

The lecture was thought-provoking and generated questions and responses from the faculty and graduate students present. As usual, the lecture was followed by a time of casual conversation over refreshments.

Looking forward to the next McLester Colloquium!



New forum on Divine Fatherhood on the Immanent Frame by Professor Juliane Hammer

Dr. Juliane Hammer has co-convened a forum on Divine Fatherhood alongside scholars from varied disciplinary backgrounds, with a wide array of regional and religious expertise. The forum, Divine Fatherhood, is currently being hosted by the Social Science Research Council.

The forum reflects on what it means to treat fathers as God-like and what it means to treat God as father-like. Forum pieces will dive into the topic of unexpected linking of gods and fathers drawing from examples in feminist theory and practice, including the the erotics of divine fatherhood from purity balls to Beyoncé’s ambiguous “Daddy.”

To read the published pieces and find out more about the forum, visit SSRC’s The Immanent Frame website.

Congratulations, Juliane!


Sacred Writes, Directed by Megan Goodwin, receives Henry Luce Foundation Grant

Sacred-Writes Megan Goodwin (PhD UNC 2014), Visiting Lecturer of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern University, has been named Director of Sacred Writes at Northeastern University, a project committed to amplifying the voices of experts who often go unheard in public discourse.

Sacred Writes is a four-year project funded by the LUCE foundation’s Theology Program, geared toward the advancement of public scholarship on religion and theology. Sacred Writes is one of seven programs to receive 2018 grants through the Theology Program.

Congratulations, Megan!


David Lambert: How Repentance Became Biblical

HowRepentanceBecameBiblicalProfessor David Lambert, who teaches in the area of Hebrew Bible and its history of interpretation, was recently interviewed for the OnScript podcast regarding his new book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016). Professor Lambert talked about how his book made him as a scholar, how the book came to be, and the scholarly alternatives to the ‘colonizing mode of interpretation’. Click here to hear the podcast.

For more on the book, see the Oxford University Press website.