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Department of Religious Studies

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What does it Mean to be the "Colorado Seminary"? - Dr. Gravely, 2014

Delivered as part of the University's Sesquicentennial Speaker Series on
Colorado's Diverse Religious Legacy: 1864-2014," you can now read Dr. William Gravely's remarks on "What does it mean to be the 'Colorado Seminary'?: The University of Denver's Historical Connections to the Methodist Church" by clicking here.

"Film as Religion" - Gregory Robbins - 2015 PIONEER SYMPOSIUM 

Did you miss out on the 2015 Pioneer Symposium? You can watch Professor Greg Robbins' lecture "Film as Religion" now below!

"We tend to label activities as 'religious' chiefly because they exhibit patterns we recognize from religion traditions we know. Certain aspects of popular culture have a 'religious' side to them. Take film, for example. This session samples clips from recent, popular films that present a vision of how the world is as well as how it might be. In the ritual context of viewing films, we 'entertain' the truths of their storytelling and their values, even as they 'entertain' us. For 'Nones,' those who have abandoned institutional religion, taking in a movie can be viewed as an alternative religious activity."

11/9/15 - Firewires' "Ignite" seminar

Please join us Monday, November 9th from 7:00-9:30 pm in 290 AAC for a Firewires' "Ignite" seminar on art-branding and creative placemaking. 

From the press release:

"Calling on artists to enhance the presence, profile and performance of businesses is nothing new. Nor is promoting the arts as an economic as well as a cultural driver for communities.

According to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts and the US Conference of Mayors, the arts account for approximately one-fifth nowadays of all economic growth and activity. And arts-related economic activity, according to various studies, surpasses even the construction industry.

But how can it actually work with measurable success for individual artists as well as for the greater community along with specific businesses?

Even though the National Endowment for the Arts has poured over $40 million in the past five years into what are known as 'creative placemaking' projects in over 200 communities across all 50 states, critics increasingly are asking what there is to show for all this funding, or how it benefits actual artists, let along improving the quality of art itself in America.

Enter the Burn-In Gallery and Think Tank out of Vienna, Austria. Burn-In, which already has an impressive track record throughout Central Europe of taking the arts into both public spaces and corporate workplaces in ways which would make
American arts advocates and community developers envious, is looking to make connections and develop strategic partnerships in America.

Taking a cue from Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secession, which at the turn of the twentieth century transformed the capital of the Hapsburg empire from an artistic backwater into the proving ground of modernism, Burn-In has a simple formula: art is what it’s ultimately all about – period!

In co-operation with the Global Art & Ideas Nexus (GAIN) ( through its Firewires initiative (, a consortium of universities and public arts advocates that grew out of the Impact Arts initiative in York, Pennsylvania, Burn-In will be conducting a series of so-called “Ignite” seminars for artists, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and business executives aimed at “changing the conversation” and offering more effective strategies for
arts development in urban environments.

'If you can’t have economic development without an understanding of the economy, you certainly can’t can have the development of the arts without an a profound grasp of the power of the arts to transform both culture and communities, let alone economics,' says Carl Raschke, a professor at the University of Denver as well as co-founder and program coordinator for GAIN. 'Once we introduce the Burn-In people to the arts and business leadership in America, it will be a significant game-changer.'

The Burn-In tours and the “Ignite” seminars have the endorsement of the Austrian consultate and the Austrian national Chamber of Commerce. Scheduled seminars are as follows: Monday, November 9. University of Denver, Denver CO 80210, 7-9:30 p.m.; Friday, November 13, 7-9:30 p.m., The Edge 166 Artspace, 2425 W. Parker Rd., Carrollton TX 75010 (Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex); Saturday, November 14, The Nault Midtown Fine Art Gallery, 816 N. Walker Ave., Oklahoma City OK 73102, 1:30-4 p.m.

The seminar is free and open to the public. Registration is online at

Click here to view the event on the University Libraries' Events Calendar.

For more information, contact Carl Raschke, 720-318-4994,

10/5/15 Visiting scholar lecture - dr. stacey floyd-thomas 

Don't miss out on Iliff's “What's the Matter with US?: Intersectionality, Culture Wars and the Growing Edges of Womanist Thought in the 21st Century” lecture with visiting scholar Dr. Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas on Monday, October 5th 4:30-6:00pm in Shattuck Hall.

Dr. Floyd-Thomasis Associate Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion specializing in Christian social and womanist ethics.

As a theologian, scholar, professor, and pastoral counselor, her professional commitments involve work as President of the Society of Race, Ethnicity and Religion (SRER), Executive Director of the Society of Christian Ethics, the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Black Religious Scholars Group (BRSG), and serving on the executive board of the nationally- acclaimed African American Lectionary (

Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of ethics, feminist/womanist studies, critical pedagogy, critical race theory, and postcolonial studies. Her approach to the study of Christian social ethics engages broad questions of moral agency, cultural memory, ethical responsibility and social justice.

Dr. Floyd-Thomas has been honored as one of the Great Women of Texas by JPMorgan Chase and Texas Business Press and is an award-winning teacher, having won over several teaching awards including the 2007 American Academy of Religion’s Teacher of the Year. Consequently, she is a sought after scholar who has taught and lectured throughout the United States as well as in West Africa, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. She has published numerous articles and six books: Mining the Motherlode: Methods in Womanist Ethics, Deeper Shades of Purple: Womanism in Religion and Society, Black Church Studies: An Introduction, U.S. Liberation Theologies: An Introduction, Beyond the Pale: Reading Ethics from the Margins and Beyond the Pale: Reading Theology from the Margins and book series in Black Church Studies (Abingdon Press) and Religion and Social Change (New York University Press). 

Save the DATE: 5/2/16 livingston lecture

RLGS is proud to announce that this year's Livingston Lecture will be presented by Professor Alison Schofield in Davis Auditorium (Room 248) in Sturm Hall at 7:00pm on Monday, May 2nd, 2016. Professor Schofield will be presenting How the Bible Became a Book:The Rise of Scripture in Judaism and Christianity. Click here to learn more and register for the event!

Patrick Bowen's "A History of Conversion to Islam in the United States, Volume 1"

RLGS is proud to announce that Patrick Bowen, a graduate of both our MA and joint PhD programs, has been published in Brill’s Muslim Minorities series. You can find his new book, “A History of Conversion to Islam in the United States, Volume 1: White American Muslims before 1975,” for purchase on Brill and Amazon!

"Everything is connected: Engaging Laudato si’" Panel - 9/21

Please join us for this important event:

Everything is Connected: Engaging Laudato Si’ panel Monday, September 21st from 7:00-9:00 in  Iliff School of Theology, I-205, Bartlett. 

A panel discussion jointly sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and Iliff Anglican Studies – including two Iliff faculty members (Miguel De La Torre, Jennifer Leath), two Regis University faculty (Tom Leininger, Mike Baxter), a faculty member from St. John Vianney Theological Seminary (Susan Selner-Wright), and a faculty member from Denver Seminary (Dieumème Noelliste) – will engage implications of the recent encyclical by Pope Francis, Laudato si’, for Christian reflection and social action.

During the first hour, each panelist will offer a 10-12 minute comment on the encyclical, with Dr. Tom Leininger (Director of Catholic Studies, Regis University) offering concluding, summative remarks. The second hour will be open to discussion among the panelists and Q & A from the audience.

Click here for more information!

Want to share the event on Facebook? Click here.

Europe's refugee crisis & the middle east panel - 9/17

Please join us for this important and timely event:

Europe's Refugee Crisis & The Middle East: Conflict, State Collapse, & the Consequences for the West panel next Thursday, September 17th from 12:00-2:00 in Lindsay Auditorium in Sturm Hall featuring Lisa Conant (Political Science), Nader Hashemi (Korbel), Courtney Welton-Mitchell (Korbel), Martin Rhodes (Korbel), Andrea Stanton (Religious Studies), with moderator Danny Postel (Korbel).

Courtney Welton-Mitchell is the director of the Humanitarian Assistance Applied Research Group and an adjunct faculty member at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. She has taught courses on refugees, forced migration, and disaster mental health. In the Spring Quarter she taught Contemporary Issues in Refugee Studies.

Martin Rhodes is Professor of Comparative Political Economy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and Co-Academic Director of the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence. He is co-editor of Social Pacts in Europe: Emergence, Evolution, and Institutionalization, New Modes of Governance in Europe and The Future of European Welfare.

Andrea Stanton is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, focusing on 20th and 21st century Islam in the Middle East and globally. She is also an Affiliate Faculty member of the Center for Middle East Studies and the editor of the Bulletin of the Syrian Studies Association. She is the author of “This is Jerusalem Calling”: State Radio in Mandate Palestine.

Nader Hashemi is the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and an Associate Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. He is the author of Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies and co-editor, with Danny Postel, of The Syria Dilemma.

Lisa Conant is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Denver and the former chair of the Department of Political Science. She is the author of Justice Contained: Law and Politics in the European Union. She teaches courses on international law and human rights, the European Union, and comparative courts and constitutions.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the University of Denver's Department of Religious Studies.

It is free of charge and open to the public.

Professor Andrea Stanton's Work Sheds Light on Islam, Past and Present

Professor’s Work Sheds Light on Islam, Past and Present
by Janette Ballard

Andrea StantonWhile most Americans catch news updates of crisis in the Middle East sporadically, Andrea Stanton has her finger on the pulse of the region. The assistant professor of Islamic studies regularly has a browser page opened to Al Jazeera's live stream. Her interest in the region runs from its history to media and religious identity.

Stanton has a PhD in Middle Eastern History from Columbia University. While pursuing her degree, she spent summers in Damascus studying Arabic and growing fond of the people and the country.

“The refugee crisis today is almost impossible for anyone who knows Syria and Syrians to believe. Syria reminded me a lot of my childhood – different religion and culture, yes, but the same focus on family, family values, a kind of general but non-extreme conservatism and a general contentment with life,” said Stanton, who grew up in Iowa. “Today, these same people struggle to survive as refugees and see their future slipping away day by day.”

“I don’t see any hope for displaced and refugee Syrians in the short term, but having spent so much time in the country and having met so many strong, bright, committed Syrians, I believe that this country will have a brighter future than we see today,” she said.

Stanton is often sought after to provide expert commentary on the Syrian crisis and other contemporary Middle Eastern issues. She has been interviewed recently on the evolving role of women in Islamist militant groups, including this piece by CNN in January.

Early in her teaching career at Sarah Lawrence College and the American University of Beirut, Stanton realized that her interests and research involved questions of religious identity and practice, and how those had evolved over time.

“History for me is a crucial lens through which to examine contemporary questions, like what role people in Muslim-majority countries think Islam or religion in general should play in public life,” Stanton said. “I believe that bringing history into Islamic studies helps us be able to better address assumptions that people today, Muslim and non-Muslim, have about Islam.”

Stanton believes that the current controversy over hostile depictions of Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo misses the point in saying that Islam forbids images of Muhammad.

“Sunni Muslims today by and large feel that Muhammad should not be depicted visually, but Shii Muslims have many artistic depictions of Muhammad and his family,” she said. “The Qur’an says nothing about visual art or a prohibition on visual depictions of Muhammad. Saying that ‘Islam forbids images of Muhammad’ plays into stereotypes about Islam as an irrational or inherently extremist religion. History helps us go beyond the stereotype, and understand the complexity of the Muslim world today.”

Stanton joined the DU religious studies department in 2010 to teach Islamic studies. Her research interests include media and politics. Her first book, This is Jerusalem Calling: State Radio in Mandate Palestine, was published in 2013.

This winter quarter, Stanton is on mini-sabbatical working on a project about the hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. She currently is in Beirut conducting research on this project.

“I’m looking at the impact that broadcast media—radio, television, film and internet—have had since the mid-1900s on Muslims’ experience of the hajj, and how that is intersecting with the advances in transportation and the growth of the Muslim population worldwide. Together, this puts tremendous pressures on the number of pilgrims who can go on hajj each year,” she said.

Stanton enjoys sharing her expertise with the community and offers an opportunity for area educators, at the K-12 as well as college level, to develop knowledge of Islam, past and present, in an annual, one-day workshop. Participants learn practical techniques for teaching about Islam, as well as prepare for consulting or non-profit work with Muslim communities in the United States and abroad.

Last year, she and a colleague from George Mason University were awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to host a three-week summer institute at the University of Denver for middle and high school teachers entitled “Teaching Connected Histories of the Mediterranean.” The institute, to be held July 2015, will offer teachers the chance to refresh their knowledge and consider new ways to teach about the Mediterranean, past and present, including art history, religion, commerce and society, as well as political histories.

“I’m personally grateful to have been awarded such a big grant, but also delighted because to me the NEH summer institutes fit so well with DU’s mission, to be a great private university dedicated to the public good,” said Stanton. “Educating the next generation is 100% about contributing to the public good, and I’m honored to be hosting the first NEH summer institute held at our university.”

Check out Professor Stanton's short interview "Western Women Lured by Radical Terrorist Networks" here.

*Article featured in DU Expressions e-Newsletter

Anthea Butler's 2015 James A. Kirk lecture

If you missed the 2015 James A. Kirk Lecture back in February with Anthea Butler, you can watch her lecture "Ignorance is Not Bliss: Understanding Religion in the 21st Century" here.

Professor Carl Raschke's Force of God: Political Theology and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy

“Drawing on the thought of Hegel and Nietzsche as well as recent work by Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Joseph Goux, Giorgio Agamben, and Alain Badiou, among others, Raschke recasts political theology for a new generation. He proposes a bold, uncompromising critical theory that acknowledges the enduring significance of Marx without his materialism and builds a vital, more spiritually grounded relationship between politics and the religious imaginary.”

Professor Carl Raschke's new book Force of God:  Political Theology and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy is now available in the "Insurrections" series from Columbia University Press.  The book is a major theoretical piece that confronts both the cultural decline of the West and the growing global economic crisis we are facing today.

Click here to read more about his new book.

Click here to order your own copy today!

 Force of God

Professor benjamin nourse awarded Prestigious Three-year Mellon-Funded fellowship 

RLGS has the pleasure to announce that our post-doctoral teaching fellow, Benjamin Nourse, has been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School. As the fellowship notes:

Mellon Fellows study with Rare Book School’s distinguished international faculty once per year for three years. Fellows receive hands-on, expert instruction by RBS faculty on interpreting the material forms of textual artifacts, from medieval manuscripts and early American hand-press books to born-digital materials. During these weeklong seminar-style courses, fellows have the opportunity to handle, analyze, and interpret materials from RBS’s c.80,000-item collection, from the University of Virginia’s Special Collections, and, in some cases, from the Library of Congress, The Morgan Library & Museum, and other major special collections in the United States. One course, Advanced Seminar in Critical Bibliography, is required; fellows choose the other two courses to suit their research interests. The fellowship provides a $6,000 stipend to cover travel, meals, lodging, course materials, and research-related needs, in addition to tuition waivers for three RBS courses.

This is a tremendous honor and signals the start of a successful career! We are delighted to have Professor Nourse with us - and encourage students to look for his courses on Buddhism, which are among our most popular.

Click here for more information on Prof. Nourse's fellowship.

Congratulations to RLGS Undergraduate award winners

Please join the Department in congratulating our undergraduate award winners:

Melanie Kesner, Cecil Franklin Award

Kieryn Wurts-Hammond, Cecil Franklin Award

Neda Kikhia, Gregory A. Robbins Award

We are proud of all our students and their many accomplishments in scholarship and service.

RLGS-ILIFF JDP student wins Theta Alpha Kappa Albert Clark Award

RLGS and the DU-ILIFF Joint Doctoral Program have the great pleasure to announce that – for the third year in a row – a University of Denver-Iliff School of Theology Joint Doctoral Program student has won the Theta Alpha Kappa Albert Clark Award.

Theta Alpha Kappa is the US national honor society for theology and religious studies; DU has been a chapter member since 2013. The Albert Clark Award is offered annually for the best undergraduate and graduate essays submitted to the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa , and includes a $500 prize. 

This year, Daniel Yencich has won the graduate award for an essay titled “God in the Central Tower”; his essay will be published in the Journal later this year or in 2016.