Andrew Aghapour, a graduate of our department (PhD 2017) with a creative background in comedy, improv, and storytelling in addition to his academic work, has developed a one person show called Zara that he will be performing at a series of events in Chapel Hill this spring. From the show’s website:
Zara is a one person show about race, religion, and identity in the American South. Andrew Aghapour was raised by immigrant parents in a multi-racial and multi-religious household. Zara is a comedic account of an anxious, asthmatic Muslim kid’s search for meaning and the chance encounters that impacted him, including a friendship with the man who mugged him and a love affair with marijuana. Drawing on personal stories, philosophy, and the history of monotheism, Zara is a story about how identity is inherited and remade in 21st-century America.
For a detailed schedule of the events at UNC, including both performances and workshops, see here.
This program, which is based at the Center for the Study of Religion & American Culture at Indiana University and is supported by the Lilly Endowment, “assists… early career scholars in the improvement of their teaching and research and in the development of professional communities.” It also “includes a seminar devoted to such other professional issues as constructing a tenure portfolio, publication, grant writing, and department politics.”
We congratulate Anne on this honor, and we trust it will enable her to attain new heights in her teaching and research.
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.
Sacred Writes, Directed by Megan Goodwin, receives Henry Luce Foundation Grant
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.
“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.
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.
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:
Carrie Duncan wins Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence
Carrie Duncan, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Missouri College of Arts and Science, was awarded a 2018 Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. Dr. Duncan received her PhD in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012.
The MU announcement explains that Dr. Duncan aims to help students “better understand why they believe the things they do.” As a professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Duncan has taught thought-provoking courses on topics such as the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and literature and history of Ancient Egypt. She hopes students gain from her classes a realization that beliefs and attitudes are influenced by history and culture. Duncan accomplishes this goal through readings, evidence-based debates, mock trials and small group discussions.
Dr. DeTemple received her PhD in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. She is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University. Her research interests include faith-based economic development, Latin American religions, Pentecostalism, and the use of dialogue in classrooms to promote intellectual humility, conviction, civic engagement, and learning. She is the author of Cement, Earthworms and Cheese Factories: Religion and Community Development in Rural Ecuador, published in 2012 by the University of Notre Dame Press, and is a co-principal investigator on an ongoing research project funded by the University of Connecticut and the Templeton Foundation, “The Dialogic Classroom: A Pedagogy for Engaging Difference with Intellectual Humility.”