Two members of our faculty have recently received support and recognition for their scholarship with major awards:
Carl Ernst, William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor in Religious Studies, is one of the inaugural recipients of the Global Humanities Translation Prize from the Global Humanities Initiative, a program of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University. Professor Ernst’s project will involve producing an annotated translation of the classical Arabic poems of the Persian mystic Mansur al-Hallaj, and the finished work will be published by Northwestern University Press in 2018. For the official award announcement, see here.
Todd Ochoa, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, has won a National Humanities Center fellowship for the 2017-18 academic year, representing one of only 35 fellows chosen out of 630 applications. Professor Ochoa will be working on a research project titled “Conjecture for a Bembé: Religious Recombination in the Black Atlantic,” and the fellowship provides the opportunity for interaction with the other resident fellows over the course of the academic year through seminars, lectures, and conferences. The announcement and full list of 2017-18 fellows can be found here.
Online Symposium on David Lambert’s How Repentance Became Biblical
Syndicate Network, an online forum for facilitating conversations on topics in the humanities, is currently hosting an online symposium on Prof. David Lambert’s award-winning book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016).
The symposium consists of critical reviews of the book by four scholars of different theoretical perspectives, with subsequent responses by Prof. Lambert leading to further back-and-forth dialogue. This format allows for an in-depth, illuminating exploration of the many issues that the book raises.
The online symposium can be found here. Currently the site has posted the responses of Joel Kaminsky (Smith College) and Susanne Scholz (Southern Methodist University); the responses of Reed Carlson (Harvard Divinity School) and Jeffrey Stackert (University of Chicago) are still to come.
Professor Carl Ernst recently conducted an interview with the Ultimate Concerns podcast on the topic of “American Islamophobia,” in which he addressed the many dimensions of this problem, from the possible causes of Islamophobia to the ways in which one might respond. The discussion relates to the topic of his edited book, Islamophobia in America: The Anatomy of Intolerance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
“Ultimate Concerns” is a podcast on religion and culture hosted by Ron Mourad, Professor of Religious Studies at Albion College and a graduate (B.A. 1994) of our department. For more information click here.
Study Abroad: 2017 Huqoq Excavations with Jodi Magness
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 2017 and invites students to participate in the excavation through UNC’s Study Abroad program.
This coming season, the excavations will take place May 29-June 30, 2017. The deadline to apply for the program is February 9, 2017 (the online application system opens on December 1, 2016). The field school program offers students 6 hours of academic credit.
In addition, Prof. Magness recently did an interview with UNC’s podcast series, “Well Said,” in which she described the goals and methods of archaeology as well as the specific implications of her work at Huqoq:
Todd Ochoa, Associate Professor in Religious Studies, was recently featured in an episode of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities podcast. In this 11-minute interview, Prof. Ochoa discusses his course on “Introduction to Religion and Culture,” his ongoing research in Cuba, and his love of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Listen to the podcast below:
On Wednesday, September 21st, our faculty and graduate students gathered in Hyde Hall for the first McLester colloquium of the academic year. The speaker was our own David Lambert, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, who gave a lecture titled “Toward a History of Tendentiousness: Biblical Studies and the ‘Penitential Lens.’” Drawing from his award-winning book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016), Professor Lambert argued that attending to the reading strategies we adopt toward ancient texts such as the Hebrew Bible can reveal much about our modern notions of the “self.” As is typical of McLester colloquia, the lecture was followed by a wide-ranging critical discussion as well as plenty of time for informal conversation over refreshments.
This year, the Carolina Center for Performing Arts has put together a series of events titled Sacred/Secular: A Sufi Journey. Organized in collaboration with Carl Ernst, Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, the program seeks to highlight the richness and diversity of the Muslim experience through a combination of performances, workshops, and other community events. From the program website:
“This project evolved from a desire to refute monolithic thinking about the practice of Islam and about Muslim communities and individuals – in other words, to contest the notion that there is any single narrative of Muslim identity or experience, a notion which is reinforced by oversimplified presentations of Muslims in our national discourse.
“We propose that the performances and community events we have curated will reveal the plurality of Muslim identity. Specifically, we explore Sufism as a spiritual and cultural lens into Islam through the work of performers from four Muslim-majority nations outside of the Arab world: Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and Senegal. This project is not exhaustive, but rather illustrative. These performances are but a glimpse into the vast richness of Muslim cultures and artistic expressions, yet we do believe that experiencing even just two examples of that diversity can invalidate monolithic thinking.”
For more information, including a detailed listing of this year’s events, see the program website.
NatGeo Article: Does Huqoq Mosaic Depict Alexander the Great?
In a recent article in National Geographic titled “Explore This Mysterious Mosaic – It May Portray Alexander the Great,” Professor Jodi Magness is interviewed regarding one of the most fascinating synagogue mosaics to have come to light from her archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee. The mosaic in question, discovered in 2014, is interpreted by Professor Magness as a portrayal of the legendary meeting between Alexander the Great and the Jerusalem high priest.
The article not only explores the different interpretations that have been offered to explain this enigmatic scene, but it also contains an interactive visual tool that leads the reader through each part of the mosaic close-up. To read the NatGeo article, click here.
For a video clip (4:38) of Professor Magness discussing this mosaic and the NatGeo article on Fox News, click here.
Royal figure in Huqoq mosaic (Photo by Jim Haberman)