Dr. Luis Leon promoted to Full Professor
RLGS is thrilled to announce that Dr. Luís León has been promoted from Associate to Full Professor.
We are so proud, and so lucky to have him as a colleague, scholar, and teacher in this department. If you see him on campus this summer, or are in touch by email, please be sure to congratulate him!
Interview w/ Dr. Nadia Marzouki
This May, Danny Postel of the University of Denver's Center for Middle East Studies interviewed visiting Marsico scholar Nadia Marzouki while she was in Denver for her talk "Tunisian Politics in 2016: Revolution, Reform or Restoration?" Marzouki is a Tunisian scholar and Research Fellow at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, author of 'L'Islam, une religion américaine?' (Islam, An American Religion?) and co-editor of 'Religious Conversions in the Mediterranean World' and 'Saving the People: How Populists Hijack Religion' (forthcoming in October 2016).
You can watch the interview here.
MA Student Padraic Fitzgerald published in JCRT
Graduating RLGS MA student Padraic Fitzgerald's article "Biopolitics and Vajrayana Buddhism" was recently published online in the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory. Congratulations, Padraic!
You can read the first of three parts here.
Dr. Alison Schofield & the DEAD SEA SCROLLS
RLGS is excited to announce Dr. Alison Schofield as one of the three editors of the 15-volume series The Dead Sea Scrolls Editions, featuring a few texts that have never been published. Dr. Schofield is the first American scholar and first woman to be named as an editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls. You can read more about her new role here.
Dr. Schofield is currently working in the Dead Sea Scrolls lab in the Israel Museum where she has reported some breaking news – a new, nearly-complete papyrus manuscript was looted from a "new" cave in the Dead Sea area. This presents a remarkable new find, and after recovering the manuscript, the IAA is now launching a two-week excavation of this cave near the Dead Sea. There has not been an excavation of this kind in the area in the past 30-35 years, and the director of the IAA has invited Dr. Schofield to participate. You can read the official press release here.
Dr. Schofield recently gave the 2016 Livingston Lecture How the Bible Became a Book: The Rise of Scripture in Judaism and Christianity on Monday, May 2nd. You can watch the lecture below.
CONGRATULATIONS TO RLGS UNDERGRADUATE AWARD WINNERS
Please join the Department in congratulating our undergraduate award winners:
Sharon Saltoon, Gregory A. Robbins Award
Paul Sherman, Gregory A. Robbins Award
We are proud of all our students and their many accomplishments in scholarship and service.
MA Student Elaine Penagos's Paper Selected for IRISE Graduate Student Paper Competition
RLGS is proud to announce that 1st year MA student Elaine Penagos's paper "The Afro-Cuban Response to the Restrictions of Being Mary: The Madonna-Whore Dichotomy, Ochún and Our Lady of Charity" has been selected to be presented at the IRISE Graduate Paper Competition this Friday (5/13) 8:30am-10:00am in the Community Room in Craig Hall. Elaine's paper will be featured in the very first IRISE Monograph this Fall. Way to go, Elaine!
You can sign up to attend here.
Alum Gabe Rusk Gives leading opposition speech in an Oxford Union debate
Religious Studies/Philosophy Alum Gabe Rusk gave the leading opposition speech in an Oxford Union debate on religion, titled "This House Believes Religion Remains an Opiate of the Masses."
We wish Gabe the best of luck as he completes his MA at Oxford!
MA Thesis Defense & Article Presentations 5/10-5/13
RLGS is pleased to announce that students Padraic Fitzgerald and Allie Harris will be presenting their MA degree completion articles and student Timothy Snediker will be defending his MA thesis this week. If a location is listed below, you are welcome to attend.
Student: Allie Harris
Article Title: The Domestication of Jihad in American Media and Culture
Date: Tuesday, May 10th
Time: 2:00-4:00 pm
Location: Sturm Hall 286
Student: Timothy Snediker
Thesis Title: To Have Done With Forgiveness: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Politics of Immanence
Date: Wednesday, May 11th
Time: 10:00-12:00 pm
Location: Sturm Hall 286
Student: Padraic Fitzgerald
Article Title: Spheres of Influence: The Biopolitical and Vajrayana Buddhist Ritual
Date: Friday, May 13th
Time: 1:00-3:00 pm
Please join us in wishing our graduating MA students luck as they present/defend!
End-of-the-Year Religious Studies Reception
Please join us on Tuesday, May 24th 2:30pm-4:30pm in the Religious Studies Department (Sturm 266) for our end-of-the-year reception to celebrate our graduating students and the end to another fantastic academic year. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.
Graduating undergraduate students: Neda Kikhia, Andrew Lohrberg, Erin Orsley, Alexander Roth, Jing Wang & Courtney Yalen.
Graduating graduate students: Padraic Fitzgerald, Allie Harris & Timothy Snediker.
Click here to view the invite.
MA Student Elaine Penagos awarded AHSS Student Research Grant
Please join us in congratulating 1st year MA student Elaine Penagos on being awarded a $1,000 AHSS Student Research Grant for her project "The Cult of San Lazaro & Babalu Aye – Faith and Healing in Cuban Culture in Miami." We are very excited to see where her research takes her!
"For Cubans of faith, San Lazaro or St. Lazarus is a complex figure. Embodying attributes of the resurrected Lazarus of Bethany, the poor man Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke and the Orisha Babalu Aye, San Lazaro's status as healer was cemented for faithful Cubans seeking recuperation from physical ailments. This ethnographic study will collect the stories of healing through faith from Cubans living in Miami, Florida and worshipping at Rincon De San Lazaro Church in Hialeah, Florida. Rincon de San Lazaro is named after the San Lazaro church in the town of El Rincon in Cuba. Rincon de San Lazaro serves as a substitute for the island's church for Cuban-Americans and Cubans living in Miami. In addition to the ethnographic component of this research project, resources from the University of Miami's Cuban Heritage Collection will be utilized to provide historical information on the cult of San Lazaro both in Cuba and in Miami. Furthermore, the Collection's vast archives on Afro-Cuban religions will aid in the analysis of San Lazaro's syncretism with the Orisha Babalu Aye."
MA Student Ryne Beddard featured in Resonance
We are proud to announce that Resonance, UNC-Charlotte's Religious Studies Journal, is featuring 1st year MA student Ryne Beddard's paper "Lycantheopolitical: The Sovereign and the Werewolf, or Christ and Sirius Black" in their May 2016 Spotlight! Ryne presented "Lycantheopolitical: The Sovereign and the Werewolf, or Christ and Sirius Black" at "Religion and the Other," a graduate conference hosted by the Religious Studies Department at UNC-Charlotte.
This paper will consider the relationship between sovereignty and bare life by examining the mythical figure of the werewolf, and specifically its relationship to the archaic Roman legal figure of homo sacer, as explored in the work of the Italian political theorist Giorgio Agamben in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. It will argue, following Agamben, that the werewolf, as a monstrous hybrid between human and animal, represents a zone of indistinction – between ζωή, or natural life, and βίος, or political life – that is characteristic of homo sacer, or the "sacred man," who can be killed with impunity but cannot be ritually sacrificed. The paper will consider the character Sirius Black, the dog-man, from J.K. Rowling's popular teen novel series Harry Potter, as a contemporary literary figure of the werewolf and as a political exile and symbol of death. This will provide the starting point to think about sovereignty, exclusion, the law, and biopolitics through the lens of the contemporary novel series, alongside the critical work of Agamben. This paper is a work of political theology in the sense inaugurated by the controversial German legal theorist Carl Schmitt and his theory of the sovereign. It will explore the relationship between the werewolf and the sovereign in the work of Agamben alongside the symmetrically identical relationship between the werewolf and Christ in the writings of the twelfth-century theologian Gerald of Wales, with consideration given to the theological and political implications.
You can read the paper here. You must have an account but can register easily and free of charge.
5/17 Tunisian Politics in 2016: Revolution, Reform or Restoration? talk w/ Dr. Nadia Marzouk
Please join us on Tuesday, May 17th 12:00-1:30pm for visiting Marsico Scholar Dr. Nadia Marzouki's talk Tunisian Politics in 2016: Revolution, Reform or Restoration? at the Sie Complex Forum (ground floor of Korbel). Lunch will be provided.
This event is free of charge and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the University of Denver Religious Studies Department, the University of Denver Center for Middle East Studies, and the University of Denver Marsico Visiting Scholars program.
You can find more information here.
5/2 How the Bible Became a Book Livingston Lecture w/ Dr. Alison Schofield
Dr. Alison Schofield will be giving the annual DU Livingston Lecture on Monday, May 2nd at 7:00pm in Davis Auditorium (Sturm 248) on How the Bible Became a Book: The Rise of Scripture in Judaism and Christianity. The event is no longer taking reservations but walk-ins will be admitted. You can find more information here.
ABRAHAMIC TRADITIONS WORKSHOP - CALL FOR PROPOSALS - DUE MAY 1
The Department of Philosophy and the Center for Judaic Studies are calling for faculty and graduate student paper proposals for the Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions workshop, an intensive 3-day workshop for scholars of medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian philosophy, this year featuring live and video presentations and discussions on the philosophy of al-Ghazali. This year's workshop will be held July 6th-8th at Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI).
Submissions are due May 1st.
National survey shows DU alumni report high degree of satisfaction with education
The Department of Religious Studies participated in the American Academy of Religion's (AAR) assessment of undergraduate religious programs in the U.S. and discovered that DU alumni report a high degree of satisfaction with their education.
Key findings from the survey:
Nearly 25% of our alumni from the class of 1949 to the class of 2013 participated in this survey, showing a high level of alumni engagement.
Our alums report significant increases in competency in key areas between beginning and completing the religious studies major – in line with or better than national trends for undergraduate religious studies programs. Key competency areas include: understanding religious beliefs within a global context, working effectively with individuals who are culturally different than they are, using their knowledge of religion to understand current events, and writing and speaking clearly and effectively.
Our alumni report a high degree of satisfaction with the religious studies major, with an average score of 5.14 out of 6.
Our alumni have gone on to work in a variety of fields, with a broad spectrum of job categories. 31% work in non-profit, community, or religious organizations. 23% work in medicine, nursing, or business. Another 8% each work in the arts, in higher education, or in information technology.
Nearly 40% of our alumni have pursued an advanced degree in religious studies or theology, with Masters of Divinity and related degrees from Boston University, Yale University, Harvard University, Iliff School of Theology, Syracuse University, Union Theological Seminary, and others. 52% of our alumni have pursued a non-related graduate degree, most commonly a Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, or Master of Public Health, from American University, Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, the University of Washington, and others.
You can read the full 2015 DU press release here.
Passing of alumna Sydney King
RLGS announces with sorrow the tragic passing of DU alumna Sydney King on March 15th. Sydney studied Asian philosophy and philosophy of religion during her time at DU. In recent years, Sydney served as an adjunct at Humboldt State as well as worked at the radio station KMUD. RLGS is deeply saddened by this loss and sends our condolences to Sydney's family and friends.
Dr. Sandra Dixon & Dr. Luís León Receive AHSS Awards
Please join us in congratulating two of our faculty on receiving AHSS awards!
Dr. Sandra Dixon has been awarded the Dean's Award for Excellence (DAFE) for her project Cultural Support for Long-Term Commitment in the Moral Struggle of Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion Partisans. The DAFE award, established by the Dean, supports tenure-line associate professors working toward promotion to the rank of full professor.
Dr. Luís León has been awarded the Stapleton Endowed Fund for Faculty Research for his project The Penitente Brotherhood: Case Studies from Spain, New Mexico, Colorado, and Mexico. The Dean selects one faculty member each year to receive the Stapleton Endowed Fund for Faculty Research sabbatical enhancement. This fund was established to provide faculty research support and strengthen the faculty member's research efforts.
2/29 "Scaring the Hell out of Us: The Rise and Fall of Evangelical Apocalyptic Horror Movies" - Marsico Lecture w/ Dr. Timothy Beal
Please join us for visiting Marsico lecturer Timothy Beal's (Professor of Religion at Case Western Reserve University) talk "Scaring the Hell out of Us: The Rise and Fall of Evangelical Apocalyptic Horror Movies" Monday, February 29th at 7:00pm in Sturm 253. Refreshments will be provided.
This event is jointly sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies and the Marsico Visiting Scholars Program. All are welcome.
Click here for more information.
PASSING OF EMERITUS PROFESSOR AND FORMER CHAIR CECIL FRANKLIN
Faculty members and friends of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver were saddened to learn of the death of Professor Emeritus, Dr. Cecil L. Franklin, on February 16th. He was 88. A resident of Denver, he is survived by his wife, Priscilla. Professor Franklin received his Ph.D. in biblical studies/history of Christianity from Harvard University in 1961. A priest in the Episcopal Church, he joined the DU in 1966 after several years in parish ministry and a teaching appointment at Monmouth College in Illinois. He became chair of the department in 1969, and taught until his retirement in 1986. The department's annual, undergraduate award for achieving distinction in the major is named in Professor Franklin's honor. Professor Franklin remained active within the community even after he retired; he volunteered for 16 years at St. Francis homeless center in downtown Denver. The service of Christian burial will be 2:00 p.m., on Saturday, February 27th, at Saint Timothy's Episcopal Church, 1401 East Dry Creek Road in Littleton (80122).
2/17 "The Art of Tibetan Woodblock Printing" - Dr. Benjamin Nourse
"DU visiting assistant professor Benjamin Nourse will explore the world of Tibetan printed books, from the production of hand-carved printing blocks to the various printing styles that emerged among the great Tibetan printing centers. We will also look at examples of non-book uses of printing in Tibet, such as printed talismans, ritual implements, and artistic prints. Drawing from Dr. Nourse's research at Tibetan printing houses and in rare Tibetan book collections, the lecture will showcase some of the artistry and the diversity of woodblock printing in Tibet."
Dr. Nourse will be lecturing on "The Art of Tibetan Woodblock Printing" at the Denver Art Museum from 12:00-1:00 pm on Wednesday, February 17th. Doors will open at 11:30am. Please note that you must purchase a general admission ticket in order to attend ($5 for students and teachers). Click here for more information.
1/21 "Understanding ISIS' Appeal" - Dr. Mia Bloom
Keynote speaker Mia Bloom's (Professor of Communication - Georgia State University) 1/21 talk "Understanding ISIS' Appeal" from our two-day event series "Extremism & Islamophobia in Perspective" is now available on our YouTube channel:
"Millennials increasingly look to sources other than churches, books for spiritual guidance"
"I still felt uneasy at the idea that there were these rules that had to be followed to the 't' and a little insulted at the idea that in order to be some sort of moral person, I had to label myself as a member of some sort of club, essentially.."
DU Student Liam Michael and recent RLGS alumna Katie Lynn-Vecqueray are featured in a Colorado Community Media article on millennials and the search for spiritual guidance along with Professors Sandra Dixon and Benjamin Nourse.
Click here to read the article in full.
“Aftertones of Infinity”: Biblical and Darwinian Evocations in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and To the Wonder - Dr. Gregory Robbins
Click here to read Professor Gregory Robbin's recently published article “Aftertones of Infinity”: Biblical and Darwinian Evocations in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and To the Wonder in the Journal of Religion & Film .
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" - Dr. 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) (www.global-arts-ideas.com) through its Firewires initiative (www.firewires.net), 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 http://firewires.net/ignite-seminars.html.
Click here to view the event on the University Libraries' Events Calendar.
For more information, contact Carl Raschke, 720-318-4994, email@example.com.
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 (www.theafricanamericanlectionary.org).
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
While 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" on our YouTube channel:
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.
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.