Ann Grodzins Gold to deliver UT-Austin lecture entitled Jahazpur Passages: Thinking Through a Rajasthan Market Town

Flyer for Ann Grodzins Gold lecture at UT-Austin

December 14, 2017

Thomas J. Watson Professor Ann Grodzins Gold to deliever a lecture at the University of Texas at Austin, for the South Asia Institute Spring 2018 Seminar Series on Musth: Somatic States in South Asia. The lecture is entitled Jahazpur Passages: Thinking Through a Rajasthan Market Town. 

Jahazpur is a small town or qasba in the North Indian state of Rajasthan. With a diverse population of more than 20,000 people, and roots deep in history and legend, Jahazpur has long been a regional hub for trade. It also serves today as a subdistrict headquarters and provides government and medical services unavailable in villages. Until sometime in the mid-twentieth century the town’s stone walls were intact and its several gates locked between dusk and dawn. Based on ten months of eldwork, Gold’s recently published book, Shiptown: Between Rural and Urban North India (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017) offers an integrated series of ethnographic sketches depicting the distinctive nature of Jahazpur as a non-urban, non-rural place. Gold enters Jahazpur (translated as “Shiptown”) through ve gates and a window – approaches that are both literal and metaphoric. This presentation retrospectively considers ways of encountering a complex locality through varied lenses and eldwork methods.

March 1 3:30-5pm
All seminars take place in the Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118) from 3:30-5pm, with a reception preceding at 3pm. Convener: Martha Ann Selby 
South Asia Institute • 512-471-3550 • •

Syracuse University Department of Religion to Host the EIR-AAR

Syracuse University in the Spring

December 1, 2017

The Department of Religion is pleased to announce that they will be hosting the Eastern International Region of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual meeting. April 14-15, 2018. The deadline for submissions is February 1,  2018.

The Eastern International Region of the AAR invites you to submit proposals for papers and panels to be presented at the 2018 Regional Meeting. Alongside the regular panels, the conference will include a series of special sessions on the theme, “Religion in Process: Flourishing, Consumption and Decay.” The theme aims to prompt reflections on change in religious practice and in religious studies. The EIR’s panels on April 14-15 will thereby continue and expand on reflections begun by the Syracuse University Religion Graduate Students’ conference with the same theme on April 13th.

Proposals are welcome in all areas within the study of religion, including:

  • Anthropology
  • Comparative religions
  • Comparative scriptures studies
  • Diaspora and transnational studies
  • Ethics
  • Gender
  • History
  • Method and theory
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Religion and Politics
  • Sociology
  • Textual studies

The EIR will once again meet concurrently with SCRIPT (the Society for Comparative Research on Iconic and Performative Texts). Proposals for SCRIPT papers should respond to its call for papers at

The Program Committee would also welcome proposals for nontraditional sessions, such as roundtables, dialogues, book discussions, etc.

Each proposal should contain the following in a single e-mail attachment in MS Word format:

  • One-page abstract (300 words maximum) describing the nature of the paper or panel
  • Cover page that includes the submitter’s full name, title, institution, status at the institution (undergraduate, graduate student, faculty, staff, etc.), phone number, fax number, e-mail, and mailing address.
  • For panel proposals, identify the primary contact person

Please send your proposal to

Deadline for submissions is February 1, 2018.

Scholars from any region may apply to participate. Only those proposals received by the deadline will be considered for inclusion in the program. Presentations are limited to twenty minutes, with ten minutes allowed for questions. If you require technological support for your presentation/panel (such as an Internet connection or audio and projection equipment), you must request it with your proposal.

As a general rule, the Region discourages panels comprised of scholars from a single institution. Exceptions to this rule would include a presentation from a research team or a panel based on other types of collaborative research.


The Region welcomes submissions from undergraduates in the field of religious studies. We plan to schedule sessions for shorter undergraduate papers of 15 minutes each. Each proposal should contain the following in a single e-mail attachment in Word format:

  • One - page abstract (300 words maximum) describing the nature of the paper or panel
  • Letter from a faculty member who has supervised the student’s work
  • Cover page that includes the student’s full name, institution, phone number, e-mail, and mailing address. For panel proposals, identify the contact person
  • Please send your proposal to

Deadline for submissions is February 1, 2018

Note: All presenters at the 2018 regional conference with the exception of undergraduates must have active membership in the AAR or SBL. Presenters to the SCRIPT panels may apply for exemption from this requirement. All participants must register for the conference.

Student Paper Competition

Graduate students in the Eastern International Region are invi ted to enter the student paper competition. Please note that to be eligible for submission, the student must attend a university in the Eastern International Region. The committee will give preference to work that is new at this conference. The winning award(s) will be formally presented at the business meeting on Sunday, April 15, 2018. A special undergraduate award will also be given this year. Submission for either student award will follow the same procedure.

To enter the competition, please attach a short note confirming that you wish to enter your paper into the contest along with your initial proposal by the February 1 , 2018 , deadline. A final draft of the paper must then be submitted to Verna Ehret, Regional Coordinator for the EIR at by April 1, 2018. To be eligible for this award the student must read the entire paper at the meeting, which means the paper and presentation must conform to the twenty - minute time limit (= roughly 2,500 words) or 15-minutes for under graduate papers (roughly 2,000 words).

Flourish and Decay: Exploring Religion in Process

November 15, 2017

The Religion Graduate Organization and the Department of Religion at Syracuse University announce the 2018 Graduate Student Conference Flourish and Decay: Exploring Religion in Process on Friday, April 13th, 2018.

The deadline for submissions has been extended to February 3, 2018.

Flour·ish: [flǝriSH] (n., v.) growth and development in a good environment; a gesture or to gesture in such a way that attracts attention.

De·cay: [dǝ͘‘kā] ‘(n., v.) to rot organically or the process of decomposition; to deteriorate; to fall into a state of disrepair. Rotten matter. A gradual decline of quality.

This conference proposes the terms “flourish” and “decay” as entry points through which to further understand how religion emerges and envelops within past, present, and future worlds.

Both flourish and decay can operate as either overarching metaphors of change, transformation, and fluctuation or as literal descriptions of cycles of growth, consumption, and loss. We embrace the capaciousness of these terms and encourage graduate students to think innovatively through them as an opportunity to explore religion in process. We welcome diversity in topics, theoretical approaches, and methodologies from all academic fields and disciplines across a broad range of histories, geographies, and religious traditions.

Keynote: Kathryn Lofton, Yale University 

Papers and panels might engage the following (but not limited to) themes of:

  • Fame, thriving, and prosperity
  • Politics, conflict, and resistance
  • Misogynoir, toxic masculinity, gender
  • Afrofuturism, critical race theory
  • Indigenous futurism, de/colonization practices
  • Ruins, cities, empire, and war
  • Futurity, millenarianism, apocalypticism and utopianism
  • Community, class, geography, place, space
  • Pollution in texts, bodies, environments, landscapes
  • Disaster, trauma, toxicity, and recovery
  • Life, biopolitics, necropolitics, health, governmentality
  • Aesthetics, beauty, and the grotesque
  • Precarity, neoliberalism, late capitalism, globalism, nationalism
  • Environmentalism, the Anthropocene, climate change, waste
  • Technology, transhumanism, robotics, and artificial intelligence
  • The viral and the virtual, affect theory
  • Death, funerary and burial rites
  • Temporalities, histories

Please submit a short abstract (350 words for papers; 500 words for panels) and a CV in PDF format to: by February 3, 2018.

Download Promotional Flyers

 Print Flyer |  Web Flyer

Selected Spring 2018 Courses Offerings

November 6, 2017

The academic study of religion allows one to explore questions of human being in many ways.  Please check out our video!

Our introduction to the study of religion challenges conventional conceptions by considering how religion works, what it does, and why it matters. Similarly, our traditions courses—such as BuddhismAfrican-American Religion, and Islam—seek to explode preconceptions in order to expand understanding.

Many of our courses also address particular themes or issues, such as the role of religion in society--from the Creator’s Game (lacrosse), to debates about the use of stem cells, to the diverse ways in which people construct their world in relationship to images of God/s, to religion’s response to the atrocities of a not-so-distant past and an all-too-troubling present.

Inquiry also plays a central role in our course offerings. In two of our courses, one on meaning and knowledge and the other on the human and divine, inquiry is philosophical and theological. In our course on God in political theory, it is philosophical, theological, and political.  And in our course on art and experience in America, it is philosophical, theological, and aesthetic.

Last, but certainly not least, our courses also explore the scriptural and the literary, particularly in their performative capacity, as compelling ways to examine human being and becoming.

The Department of Religion is multi-disciplinary.  As such, it is a great resource for undergraduates who wish to construct rich and creative programs of study.  Come and join us!

Spring 2018 Course Gallery | Course Descriptions (PDF)

Contact Information

Prof. Marcia C. Robinson.
Office: 511HL,
Office Hours: Tuesday afternoons, 1:00PM-2:00PM;

SU Abroad: Religion, Law & Human Rights in Strasbourg

Strasbourg, France. image via:

November 5, 2017

The Department of Religion would like to that Dr. Yüksel Sezgin (Associate Professor, Political Science / Director, Middle Eastern Studies Program) will be teaching PSC 400/600 Religion, Lawn and Human Rights next summer in Strasbourg, France. This course is open to Syracuse University undergraduate and graduate students. Here is a brief description from Dr. Sezgin:

In brief the course aims to introduce students to contemporary debates about the role of religion in modern legal systems through analysis of Western and non-Western judicial systems. The course meets Monday through Thursday from 9 to 11. There will be a take-home midterm and a research paper that will be due one month after the end of the class. The course is listed as 400/600, open to both undergraduate and graduate students. As part of the course, we will visit the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, and there will also be guest lecturers (including European academics, judges and lawyers). The course will be a great opportunity for students interested in political science, international relations, judicial politics, law and courts, comparative politics, human rights, international organizations, gender studies, and religion and politics.For interested students there may also be internship opportunities with various European institutions in Strasbourg. Strasbourg is a strategically located beatiful city that offers opportunities for many extracurricular activities as well. Lastly, the course is taught in English. But there will be language classes at the SU Center in Strasbourg for those who would like to take French while in France.

If you have any questions please contact:

Yüksel Sezgin, PhD.
Associate Professor, Political Science / Director, Middle Eastern Studies Program
Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Public Affairs

Syracuse at the 2017 AAR/SBL Annual Meeting in Boston

Boston Cityscape

November 2, 2017

11/17 - Friday

  • Hamner, M. Gail. Presiding. Religion and Media Workshop,Between Fake News and Natural Media, (A17–109)
    • Friday - 11:00AM–6:00PM, Hynes Convention Center–302 (Third Level)
  • McCormick, Lauren. “Fleeting Identity in the Judean Pillar Figurines,” ASOR.

    • 12:25 on November 17, in the Westin Boston Waterfront – Stone.

11/18 - Saturday

  • Watts, James W. “Ritualizing the Size of Books,” (P18–115), Society for Comparative Research on Iconographic and Performative Texts, Miniature Scriptures.
  • Saturday - 9:00AM–11:30AM, Sheraton Boston-Dalton (Third Level)
  • Including papers by Department Alumnae/i
    • Dorina Miller Parmenter (PhD ’09), Spalding University, “Small Things of Greatest Consequence: Miniature Bibles in America.”
    • Yohan Yoo (PhD ’05), Seoul National University, “Sutras Working in Buddha’s Belly and Buddhists’ Pockets: Iconic and Performative Miniature Sutras in Korean Buddhism.”
  • Borchert, John (ABD), “No-Death: Posthuman Living through Ritualized Game Death”, (A18–141), Video Gaming and Religion Seminar: New Voices In the Study of Religion and Video Games.
    • Saturday - 9:00AM–11:30AM, Marriott Copley Place-Vineyard (Fourth Level)
  • Waghorne, Joanne, Respondent.(A18–216). Hinduism Unit and Religion, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism Unit: Constructing and Contesting Race in Hindu Religions.
    • Saturday - 1:00PM–3:30PM, Hynes Convention Center–110 (Plaza Level)
  • Brown, Diana (PhD Student), “‘Eastern Methods and Western Bodies:’’ Dion Fortune’s Assessment of Yoga for a Western Audience,” (A18–212) Contemporary Pagan Studies Unit and Western Esotericism Unit: The Pagan-Esoteric Complex: Mapping Intersecting Milieus
    • Saturday - 1:00PM–3:00PM, Hynes Convention Center–201 (Second Level)
  • Robinson, Marcia C., “Blooming in the Dung Heap: Kierkegaard and the Dialectic of Revelation and Faith in Troubling Times,” (A18–219), Kierkegaard, Religion, and Culture Unit: Kierkegaard and the Future of Revelation – Part I: The Power and the Fragility of Revelation,
    • Saturday - 1:00PM–3:30PM, Sheraton Boston-Republic A (Second Level)
  • Hamner, M. Gail, Presiding, (A18–234), Theology and Religious Reflection Unit:The Revelry of Suspicion: Apocalypticism, Conspiracy Theory, and Affect
    • Saturday - 1:00PM–3:30PM, Marriott Copley Place-Arlington (Third Level)
    • Including a paper by department Alumni, Donovan Schaefer (PhD ’12), University of Oxford, The Lust to Believe: Paranoia, Conspiracy Theory, and Apocalypticism.
  • Persaud, Prea (MA '13), University of Florida, "It Doesn't Always Feel Good: Redefining Notions of Inclusion and Moving beyond "Diversity," (A18-301), Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Committee and Graduate Student Committee and Status of LGBTIQ Persons in the Profession Committee: Protecting the Vulnerable on Campus, Especially for Students, Focus on Employment, Presidential Theme: Religion and the Most Vulnerable, Professional Practices and Institutional Location.
    • Saturday - 4:00PM-6:30PM, Sheraton Boston-Grand & Independence (Second Level)

11/19 - Sunday

  • O’Dell-Chaib, Courtney (ABD), “Making-With Disaster,” (A19–126), Religion and Ecology Unit: Critical Approaches to Racial and Environmental Justice, Focus on Sustainability.
    • Sunday - 9:00 AM–11:30 AM, Marriott Copley Place-Simmons (Third Level)
  • Gray, Biko Mandela, Respondent. (A19–225) Pentecostal–Charismatic Movements Unit and Queer Studies in Religion Unit: Author Meets Critics: A Discussion of Ashon Crawley’s BlackPentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press, 2016), Books under Discussion.
    • Sunday - 1:00PM–2:30PM, Marriott Copley Place-Boylston (First Level)
  • Robert, William, Respondent. (A19–226), Philosophy of Religion Unit: Gendering Philosophy of Religion: The Influence of Pamela Sue Anderson.
    • Sunday - 1:00 PM–2:30 PM, Sheraton Boston-Riverway (Fifth Level)
  • Brodeur, Emma (ABD), “Freud and the Bible: Dream Images and Jewishness,” (A19–273), Study of Judaism Unit: Holding and Beholding: Material and Visual Cultures
    • Sunday - 3:00 PM–4:30 PM, Marriott Copley Place-Orleans (Fourth Level)
    • Alumnae Jennifer Caplan (PhD ’15), Towson University, Presiding.

11/20 - Monday

  • Adams, Jill Petersen (PhD 2013), Oxford College (Emory). Presiding. Religion, Affect, and Emotion Unit: The Felt Life of Vulnerability
    • Monday - 1:00 PM–3:30 PM, Marriott Copley Place-New Hampshire; Fifth Level
  • Watts, James W. Respondent. (S20–208) Book of Deuteronomy: Text Workshop on the Decalogue,
    • Monday 1:00PM to 3:30PM, Room: Provincetown (Fourth Level) - Boston Marriott Copley Place (MCP)
  • Moody, Rebecca (ABD), “(Re)Orienting Vulnerability: Using Visual Images to Parse Morocco’s Dominant and Quotidian Islams,” (A20–115), Contemporary Islam Unit: Crossing Borders, Transcending Boundaries: The Shifting Contexts of Muslim Politics
    • Monday - 9:00AM–11:00AM, Hynes Convention Center–104 (Plaza Level)
  • Brett, Adam DJ (ABD), “The Monstrosity of Messianism in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman,” Death, Dying, and Beyond Unit and Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit: Superheroes, Where Is Thy Sting?
    • Monday - 1:00PM–3:30PM, Sheraton Boston-Gardner (Third Level)
  • Burrus, Virginia, Respondent, (A20–303), Augustine and Augustinianisms Unit and SBL History and Literature of Rabbinic Judaism: Self-Control in Augustine and Rabbinic Literature
    • Monday - 4:00PM–6:30PM, Sheraton Boston-Back Bay B (Second Level)
  • Arnold, Philip P., “‘And Now Our Minds Are One:’ The Thanksgiving Address and Attaining Consensus among the Haudenosaunee,” (A20–319), Native Traditions in the Americas Unit: Native American Rhetoric: Sacred Language, Transformation, Placiality and Nature
    • Monday - 4:00 PM–6:30 PM, Marriott Copley Place-Wellesley (Third Level)
  • Robert, William, “Ways and Means (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Introduction to the Study of Religion),” (A20–333), Teaching Religion Unit: Teaching the Introductory Course, Professional Practices and Institutional Location.
    • Monday - 4:00PM–6:30PM, Sheraton Boston-Jamaica Pond (Fifth Level)

11/21 - Tuesday

  • Loewen, Jordan Brady (PhD Student), “‘Hacking Perception:’ Techno-Entheogens, Virtual Reality, and the Vulnerability of Subjectivity,” (A21–120), Science, Technology, and Religion Unit: Vulnerable Populations, Science, Technology, and Religion, Focus on Sustainability Presidential Theme: Religion and the Most Vulnerable
    • Tuesday - 9:00AM–11:30AM Hynes Convention Center–209 (Second Level)

Emeritus Faculty at the AAR.

  • Caputo, John D. (Religion), Panelist. (M17–116) Scriptural Reasoning Academic Network Annual Conference
    • Friday - 9:30AM–5:00PM, Offsite-Endicott College Boston, 200 Tremont St, Room 417
  • Barkun, Michael (Political Science), Panelist. (P17-241), Harvard Religious Literacy Project and American Academy of Religion: FBI and Religion Scholars: Reflecting on the Past 25 Years.
    • Friday - 1:00PM-4:00PM, Offsite-Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Ave, Sperry Room, Andover Hall 116

Announcing the publication of Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture

Cover of Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture by James W. Watts.

October 25, 2017

Professor James W. Watts, has published Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture, London: Wiley Blackwell, 2017. Renée K. Gadoua profiled Dr. Watts and his new book for the College of Arts and Sciences, in her article, "Hebrew Scholar Shines New Light on Old Testament Religion Professor James Watts examines first five books of Bible."

For those interested in using Understanding The Pentateuch as a Scripture in class, Dr. Watts has helpfully provided a sample syllabus for teaching Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture. The publisher describes the book in the following way:

Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture is a unique account of the first five books of the Bible, describing how Jews and Christians ritualize the Pentateuch as a scripture by interpreting it, by performing its text and contents, and by venerating the physical scroll and book.

Pentateuchal studies are known for intense focus on questions of how and when the first five books of the Bible were composed, edited, and canonized as scripture. Rather than such purely historical, literary, or theological approaches, Hebrew Bible scholar James W. Watts organizes this description of the Pentateuch from the perspectives of comparative scriptures and religious studies. He describes how the Pentateuch has been used in the centuries since it began to function as a scripture in the time of Ezra, and the origins of its ritualization before that time. The book:

    • Analyzes the semantic contents of the Pentateuch as oral rhetoric that takes the form of stories followed by lists of laws and sanctions
    • Gives equal space to its ritualization in the iconic and performative dimensions as to its semantic interpretation
    • Fully integrates the cultural history of the Pentateuch and Bible with its influence on Jewish and Christian ritual, and in art, music, theatre, and film

Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture is a groundbreaking work that highlights new research data and organizes the material to focus attention on the Pentateuch’s—and Bible’s— function as a scripture.

Pure Words from the Water: Haudenosaunee Uses of Wampum

Flyer for Dr. Arnold's talk

October 25, 2017

Associate Professor and Chair Philip P. Arnold recently delivered a lecture entitled “Pure Words from the Water:  Haudenosaunee Uses of Wampum” for the Boston University Program in Scripture and the Arts. Dr. Arnold’s talk is described in the flyer with the following:

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) have used wampum for millennia. It is
connected with the founding events of the “Great Law of Peace,” which took
place in what is now known as Central New York. This epic story depicts how
the 5 warring nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca)
came together in peace at Onondaga Lake (near Syracuse) through the use
of wampum in condolence ceremonies established by the Peacemaker for
Hiawatha and the Tadodaho. Wampum is used in strings and belts from the
time of the Peacemaker until today and is understood to denote a purity of
intention in speech, because of its relationship with water. It has been an
important feature of the Haudenosaunee treaty relationships with European and American governments.

Books as Sacred Beings

Photo of the Participants in the Books as Sacred Beings Conference hosted including Yohan Yoo, Dorina Miller Parmenter, & James W. Watts

October 25, 2017

Professor James W. Watts, has returned from keynoting the Books as Sacred Beings international conference which was hosted by Professor Yohan Yoo (PhD '05) and the Center for Religious Studies, Seoul National University, October 13-14, 2017. Scholars from six countries presented papers exploring the use of sacred texts in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Shaminism, and many other traditions. Dr. Watts’ keynote address was entitled “Books as Sacred Beings.” Alumna Professor Dorina Miller Parmenter (PhD ’09) of Spalding University was also deeply involved in the conference. To learn more about the papers presented see the conference program.

One unique feature of the conference was that the participants visited the Haeinsa temple where they viewed the Tripitaka Koreana, which is a Buddhist sacred text carved onto wooden printing blocks.

Below is the conference flyer.

Books as Sacred Beings Flyer

Syracuse University Students help with preparations for Diwali

REL185 students preparing luminaries. Photo by Aarti Patel.

October 25, 2017

On October 19 students in Watson Professor Ann Grodzins Gold’s REL185 Hinduism course assembled luminaries (battery-operated votives surrounded by sand in a recyclable paper bag) in order to assist Professor Romita Ray (Department of Art and Music Histories) in the Department of Art and Music Histories preparations for Diwali (the Hindu Festival of Lights). The Festival of Lights took place today in the Sculpture Garden on the quad. The luminaries illuminated the sculpture garden from 5:00pm to 10:0pm.

Since 2015, Professor Ray has helped Syracuse University celebrate Diwali highlighting a living tradition with a history stretching back for over five thousand years. Celebrating Diwali at Syracuse is important not only for Hindu students and students of South Asian heritage but also for everyone to get a chance to participate in a celebration of art and culture of the need to bring light to everything especially as the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer.

Carol Babiracki, associate professor of music history and cultures and director of the South Asia Center, points out that Diwali is “… that idea of bringing light to everything,” she said. “It’s happening at a time when the days are getting shorter, so it’s a reminder that that even in the darkness, there will be light.”

This year the festival is co-sponsored by the South Asia Center and Hendricks Chapel.

For more information see: “Syracuse University students and faculty to light up Sculpture Garden for Diwali celebration” by Divya Murthy of the Daily Orange.

A photo by Nazla Mariza showing the luminaries setup in the sculpture garden.

Diwali photo by Nazla Mariza

Announcing the forthcoming publication of Becoming Gold by Shannon Grimes (G'06)

Shannon Grimes (G'06) image via: Rubedo Press

September 28, 2017

Shannon Grimes (G'06) is the author of the forthcoming study, Becoming Gold: Zosimus of Panopolis and the Alchemical Arts in Roman Egypt, available soon through Rubedo Press’s Panopolis Project. Dr. Grimes has taught at Meredith College since 2006 where she is currently Associate Professor and head of the Department of Religious and Ethical Studies.

Image and text via: Rubedo Press.

Dr. Virginia Burrus Honored as GTU Alumna of the Year 2017

Virginia Burrus, The Bishop W. Earl Ledden Professor of Religion and Director of Graduate Studies

September 19, 2017

Congratulations to Dr. Burrus on being named the Graduate Theological Union's Alumna of the year.

In announcing Dr. Burrus’s selection, GTU Academic Dean Uriah Y. Kim said, “Virginia Burrus is a first-rate thinker whose amazing array of writings, courses, and public lectures powerfully and provocatively communicate her passion and commitment to making ancient texts and insights relevant to contemporary issues. Her scholarship embodies who she is and what she cares about. She is indeed one of the GTU's most distinguished alums today.” 

Dr. Burrus will be honored by the GTU on Saturday, November 18, 2017, at 8:00 pm at the GTU Alumni Reception during the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature in Boston. All GTU alumni and friends are invited.

For more about Dr. Burrus being honored as GTU's Alumna of the year see GTU's press release.

Alumna Angela Rudert (G'12) publishes Shakti's New Voice

Book cover of Shakti's New Voice | Rowman & Littlefield

September 13, 2017

Alumna Angela Rudert (Ph.D. '12), has published Shakti's New Voice: Guru Devotion in a Woman-Led Spiritual Movement, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017. The book offers a rich ethnographic study of the widely popular North Indian guru, Anandmurti Gurumaa. Rudert is a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Ithaca College where she is also faculty in Women's and Gender Studies. 

View other Department of Religion Alumnae/i Publications.

Congratulations to Alex Snow on his promotion to Associate Professor

August 22, 2017
Dr. Alex Snow (Ph.D. 2009) has been awarded an Eberly College Outstanding Teacher award at West Virginia University and promoted to Associate Professor.

Sensing Sacred Texts: A special issue of Postscripts

Program cover for a symposium on the theme, "Seeing, Touching, Holding and Tasting Sacred Texts," The main cover image is of a Ceremony in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, 2014 copyright: James W. Watts

August 22, 2017

Postscripts has just published a special issue if SCRIPT essays on the topic, “Sensing Sacred Texts.” (The cover date is 2012, but the actual publication date is 2017.) The essays are the product of a two-day symposium on this topic at the Center for Religious Studies at Ruhr University Bochum in April, 2016. The contents are:

  1.  “Introduction” James W. Watts (Syracuse University/Ruhr University Bochum)
  2. “What the Book Arts Can Teach Us About Sacred Texts: The Aesthetic Dimension of Scripture” S. Brent Plate (Hamilton College)
  3. “How the Bible Feels: The Christian Bible as Effective and Affective Object” Dorina Miller Parmenter (Spalding University)
  4. “Engaging all the Senses: On Multi-sensory Stimulation in the Process of Making and Inaugurating a Torah Scroll” Marianne Schleicher (Aarhus University)
  5. “On Instant Scripture and Proximal Texts: Some Insights into the Sensual Materiality of Texts and their Ritual Roles in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond” Christian Frevel (Ruhr University Bochum)
  6. “Touching Books, Touching Art: Tactile Dimensions of Sacred Books in the Medieval West” David Ganz (University of Zürich)
  7. “Infusions and Fumigations: Literacy Ideologies and Therapeutic Aspects of the Quran” Katharina Wilkens (Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich)
  8. “Seeing, Touching, Holding, and Swallowing Tibetan Buddhist Texts” Cathy Cantwell (Oxford University/Ruhr University Bochum)
  9. “Neo-Confucian Sensory Readings of Scriptures: the Reading Methods of Chu Hsi and Yi Hwang” Yohan Yoo (Seoul National University)
  10. “Scripture’s Indexical Touch” James W. Watts (Syracuse University/Ruhr University Bochum)

Equinox is set to publish this collection as a free-standing volume in a few months.

Announcing the publication of Shiptown by Ann Gold

Shiptown by Ann Gold

August 21, 2017
"Ann Grodzins Gold's prose is beautiful and often poignant, drawing the reader into public and domestic spaces, and oral histories and everyday conversations of Jahazpur. She lays bare the contingencies and daily decisions of fieldwork itself. Very few ethnographies are so honest."—Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger, Emory University
Jahazpur is a small market town or qasba with a diverse population of more than 20,000 people located in Bhilwara District in the North Indian state of Rajasthan. With roots deep in history and legend, Shiptown (a literal translation of landlocked Jahazpur's name) today is a subdistrict headquarters and thus a regional hub for government services unavailable in villages. Rural and town lives have long intersected in Shiptown's market streets, which are crammed with shopping opportunities, many designed to allure village customers. Temples, mosques, and shrines attract Hindus and Muslims from nearby areas. In the town's densely settled center—still partially walled, with arched gateways intact—many neighborhoods remain segregated by hereditary birth group. By contrast, in some newer, more spacious residential areas outside the walls, persons of distinct communities and religions live as neighbors. Throughout Jahazpur municipality a peaceful pluralism normally prevails.
Ann Grodzins Gold lived in Santosh Nagar, the oldest of Shiptown's new settlements, for ten months, recording interviews and participating in festival, ritual, and social events--public and private, religious and secular. She sustains a conviction that, even in the globalized present, local experiences are significant, and that anthropology--that most intimate and poetic of the social sciences--continues to foster productive conversations among human beings.
See Gold's brand new post on Penn Press log: Staying Afloat: Reflections on Anthropology and Everyday Life
You can receive a 20% discount when you order from using promo code PH70. Enter "PH70" in the promo code field on the shopping cart page. Neither Dr. Gold nor Syracuse University Department of Religion recieve any royalties from the sale of this book.
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Plans for Graduate Studies International Exchange with CERES, Ruhr University Bochum

CERES Faculty and SUREL Faculty

July 18, 2017

The SU Religion Department met with the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) at Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) in Germany to lay plans for future collaborations, including the opportunity for graduate students (MA and PhD) to study for one year at the other university. The departments also discussed research collaborations and exchanging faculty lecturers.

Profs. Phil Arnold, Joanne Waghorne, Jim Watts, William Robert, and Ahmed Abdel Meguid participated in a bi-lateral conference with CERES in Bochum, Germany, on June 12-14. The conference included presentations about faculty and graduate student research projects, descriptions of each of the graduate programs, and discussions of how collaboration between the departments could strengthen both research and teaching. We concluded by agreeing to forge such collaborations in the coming year. The graduate student exchange will be worked out for the Religion Department by its Graduate Committee, led by Prof. Virginia Burrus.

Like Syracuse, Bochum lies in a traditional industrial area which has for forty years suffered the economic and social disruptions of globalization. Old factories and mines have now been transformed into green spaces, multi-use parks and museums about “industrial culture.” Ruhr University was the first new university founded (1965) in Germany after World War II. Its Center for Religious Studies carries on the university’s and region’s reputation for innovation by pioneering comparative religious studies in its research and teaching.

The field of Religious Studies faces similar challenges in Europe as in America, despite the very different institutional structures of university education on the two continents. The Religion Department at SU, like CERES at RUB, has a tradition of innovative research and pedagogy. The two departments' strengths complement each other: CERES focuses especially on the history of religions, on systems theory and on training students for the non-academic job market while SU Religion brings strength in critical theory, gender theory and focuses more on contemporary and indigenous religions. Gaining experience in the different teaching and research environments of Germany, Europe, and the United States will benefit both faculty and graduate students aiming for academic careers. 

Carson Webb appointed the Butman Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Carson Webb, Ph.D.

May 12, 2017

Carson Webb (PhD, 2014), has been appointed Butman Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Piedmont College (Demorest, Ga.), where he takes over the position from Barbara Brown Taylor, who retired from teaching in May. Webb joins Piedmont after two years as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Eureka College (Eureka, Ill.), where he taught courses in historical and contemporary Christianity, Asian and Western religions, biblical studies, and coordinated lecture series. Previously he taught at Le Moyne College and Syracuse University. He earned a BA from Pepperdine University and an MA in Philosophical Theology from the University of Nottingham. He has published on Søren Kierkegaard and related figures, most recently "Kierkegaard's Critique of Eudaimonism: A Reassessment" in the Journal of Religious Ethics (forthcoming September 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled Kierkegaard's Absurd Joy: Religion, the Good Life, and Modernity.

Abel Gomez awarded the Toni Taverone Graduate student prize

Abel Gomez, Ph.D. Student

May 6, 2017
 Congratulations to Abel Gomez for winning the Women and Gender Studies (WGS) Toni Taverone Graduate student prize for his paper, "Decolonizing the Chicana Spirit: Indigenous Religion and Chicana Feminism." Abel Gomez is a second year PhD student in the Department of Religion studying Indigenous, Neo-Pagan, and Latinx religious movements. His paper focused on ways Chicanas actively draw upon Indigenous religious traditions as an important dimension of their larger efforts towards decolonial feminist praxis. Abel earned his BA in Philosophy and Religion from San Francisco State University and MA in Religious Studies from the University of Missouri.

Dimple Dhanani was awarded the South Asia Center's Bharati Memorial Award.

Dimple Dhanani, Ph.D. Student

May 6, 2017

Dimple Dhanani (Ph.D. Student) was awarded the South Asia Center's Bharati Memorial Award for the summer of 2017. This August, she plans to conduct pre-dissertation research in Gujarat, IndiaHer project explores the construction of gender, gendered spaces, and the allocation of material and social resources in the religious lives of Hindu women. She finds religion—both as an identity and an activity—to be an important axis to add to feminist intersectional analysis and aspires to bring together the methodologies of religious studies and women’s studies in her work. She earned her BA in Religious Studies and Certificate of Religion and Conflict from Arizona State University, MA in Asian Religion from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and MSt in Women's Studies from the University of Oxford. 

Daniel Heifetz will be a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Bucknell University

Daniel Heifetz joins Bucknell University as VAP

May 3, 2017
Daniel Heifetz (PhD, 2015) has accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Bucknell University, where he will offer courses on South Asian religions. He previously held a Merton Humanities Teaching Fellowship at Mercyhurst University. He received his MA in religion from Columbia University and his BA in religion and philosophy from Rutgers University. His recent articles on the role of scientific authority in a modern Hindu movement called the All Workd Gayatri Pariwar have been accepted by the International Journal of Hindu Studies and Nidan: International Journal for Indian Studies.

Congratulations Professor William Robert (Religion) and Professor Kathleen Baum (VPA)

Students use scarves as they participate in a movement exercise in class

April 28, 2017

Congratulations Professor William Robert (Religion) and Professor Kathleen Baum (VPA) on the success of their unique and innovative team taught course, "Performing Religion." For more information see Renée K. Gadoua's article for the College of Arts and Sciences News: In This Course, Performance Becomes Text. For those interested here is the syllabus for Rerforming Religion.

Religion Major Ericka Jones-Craven Participates in McNair Research Symposium

Ericka Jones-Craven

April 28, 2017

Ericka Jones-Craven's McNair Research Symposium project is entitled "Let it be" and is a study of student reactions to the experience of listening to the gospel recording "Total Praise" by the Syracuse University Black Celestial Choral Ensemble.  For more see the wonderful article by Sean Kirst in the Syracuse University News. For more about how studying religion and art photography has shaped Jones-Craven's work see her brief department bio: Ericka Jones-Craven.

Ken Frieden publishes Travels in Translation

Cover of Travels in Translation by Ken Frieden

April 24, 2017
Ken Frieden is the B. G. Rudolph Professor of Judaic Studies at Syracuse University. His most recent publication is Travels in Translation: Sea Tales at the Source of Jewish Fiction (2016). Prior books include Classic Yiddish Fiction (1995) and anthologies of Yiddish literature in translation, such as Tales of Mendele the Book Peddler (1996) and Classic Yiddish Stories (2004).


Ken FriedenIn Travels in Translation, Ken Frieden traces modern Hebrew back to 1780, when German Jews began to move beyond the narrow confines of Torah and beyond a worldview centered on Zion. Supplementing Hebrew pilgrimage narratives to the Holy Land, enlightened authors wrote and translated stories of travel in Europe, North Africa, the Americas, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, and the Arctic.

Before it reemerged as a spoken language, Hebrew was like a ship in a bottle, anchored in the Bible and Talmud. Early modern speakers of Yiddish and German, by writing vividly of pilgrimages to the Holy Land and translating far-flung travel accounts breathed new life into Hebrew. As they overcame the tendency to quote biblical phrases at every turn, these authors developed a descriptive Hebrew that was capable of evoking distant sea travels and exotic lands. They pulled the ship out of the bottle and sent Hebrew back into the world.

Frieden’s fresh look at the origins of modern Jewish literature launches a novel approach to literary studies. At the intersection of travel writing, translation studies, and worldly horizons, textual referentialism focuses on texts yet reads beyond them to their referents. Frieden thus proposes a rigorous alternative to post-structuralism and New Historicism, reenergizing literary and cultural studies.

Publication by Syracuse University Press.


“This book is an important revision to modern Hebrew literary history, demonstrating how the beginnings of a viable prose style go back to the early nineteenth century and translation played a crucial role.”— Robert Alter, University of California, Berkeley
“Frieden cogently traces the path of making Hebrew a viable living language to a coterie of writers who preceded Mendele by half a century."—Ruth Adler, professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature at Baruch College
“The stakes, the scope, and the thrust of this book are exemplary, explaining how travel literature exemplifies the acts of cultural transfer that are so much at the heart of Jewish literary modernity. . . . Frieden lays out in admirably clear detail the linguistic pieces of the puzzle." —Jeremy Dauber, director of the Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University

Content via: Syracuse University Press,, Ken Frieden Faculty profile.

The cover image is Joseph Mallord William Turner's The Shipwreck from The Tate and Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) 

Maria Carson to be one of the Humanities Center Dissertation Fellows

Maria Carson

April 20, 2017
Maria Carson (PhD Candidate) will be a Humanities Center Dissertation Fellow for the 2017-2018 academic year. During the next year, she plans to finish her dissertation entitled A Tzaddik Sighs: Abraham Joshua Heschel, Affect, and Nostalgia. This project uses affect theory to discuss how nostalgia permeates the work of rabbi, activist, and scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel. This research reflects her larger interests which lie in the intersections of Jewish theology, Jewish cultural studies, and gender theory. She earned her B.A. in Religious Studies and her B.F.A. in Theatre Management from DePaul University. She has an M.A. in Jewish Thought from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. 

Department of Religion Emeritus Faculty, Alumnae/i, & Students receive accolades

(l-r) Sara Swenson, Aarti Patel, Mallory Hennigar

April 13, 2017

Several students, alumni and emeriti faculty from the Department of Religion have received awards recently, reflecting the caliber and diversity of the department’s fields of study. “The Department of Religion has excellent students who are working in a wide diversity of subject and cultural areas,” says Philip Arnold, department chair. “We are very proud of our current graduate students and our esteemed alumni.”

Recent awards:

Julie Edelstein G’17 was awarded the Bernard Bate Tamil Language Student Scholarship from the American Institute of Indian Studies. The scholarship honors the memory of Professor Bernard Bate, an expert in the Tamil worlds of South Asia, who died in March 2016. The scholarship covers travel expenses and tuition as well as a stipend for her living expenses in Madurai, a city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, during summer 2017 and the 2017-18 academic year.

Edelstein’s research focuses on South Indian Hinduism, religion in Tamil Nadu and the Tamil diaspora, gender and sexuality. She is particularly interested in Madurai, the intersection of gender and deity possession, and religion in the Thirunangai (Tamil transgender) community.

Sara Swenson, a Ph.D. student, won the 2017 Theta Alpha Kappa (TAK) Albert Clark Award for best graduate paper. “‛Friending’ Buddhists in the Field: Using Social Media as an Ethnographic Method” was judged to be the best from the 22 essays submitted at the graduate level by a panel of three judges who teach at institutions with TAK chapters. In addition to a cash prize, her paper will be published in one of the two issues of the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa in 2018.

Swenson also was awarded a Robert Ho Foundation Buddhist Studies grant through the American Council of Learned Societies to conduct ethnographic research in 2017-18 for her dissertation on Buddhist groups in Vietnam.

Aarti Patel, a Ph.D. student, was awarded the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship Program through Syracuse University. It will fund the entirety of her fees for the South Asia Summer Language Institute at the University of Wisconsin.

Mallory Hennigar won two highly competitive fellowships to complete her dissertation fieldwork in India: an American Institute of India Studies Junior Research Fellowship and a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship (since 2008 jointly funded by the U.S. and Indian governments). Titled “Living Babasaheb’s Buddhism: Caste, Conversion and Globalization among Ambedkarite Buddhists in Central India,” her research will be based at Nagaloka Centre, a community and training center at the nexus of two social movements: new Buddhist converts who revere the former “untouchable” Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, India’s first minister of law, who converted to Buddhism, and the British-based Triratna Buddhist Community.

Donovan O. Schaefer G’12 has accepted a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a departmental lecturer in science and religion at Trinity College, University of Oxford. After completing his doctorate, Schaefer held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Haverford College. His first book, “Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power” (Duke 2015), challenges the notion that religion is inextricably linked to language and belief. Rather, he proposes, it is primarily driven by affects.

Jenny Caplan G’15 will join the faculty of Towson University as an assistant professor in Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies. She will teach courses on modern Judaism in the Americas to both undergraduate and graduate students in the Baltimore Hebrew Institute, which is affiliated with Towson. She is currently a visiting assistant professor at Wesleyan University and held previous visiting appointments at Western Illinois University and Rollins College.
In addition, “The Weakness of God” (Indiana University Press, 2006), by John D. Caputo, Thomas J. Watson Professor Emeritus of Religion and Humanities, has been translated into French as “La faiblesse de Dieu” (Labor et Fides, 2016). The book won the 2007 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Constructive-Reflective Studies. Caputo came to Syracuse in 2004 after retiring from Villanova University. He retired in 2011. 

Originally posted as: "Religion Department Garners Wave of Awards, Recognition: Awards reflect the diversity of research within the department" on  Apr 11, 2017 by: Renée K. Gadoua

Jenny Caplan, Assistant Professor Towson University

April 12, 2017

Jenny Caplan (Ph.D. 2015) will be joining the faculty of Towson University as an Assistant Professor in the department of Philosophy and Religion. She will be teaching courses focused on Modern Judaism in the Americas to both undergraduates, and MA students in the Baltimore Hebrew Institute, which is affiliated with Towson. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Religion Department at Wesleyan University, and helt previous visiting appointments at Western Illinois University and Rollins College. She earned her B.A. in religion and theatre studies from Wellesley College, and earned a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. She has published on various aspects of Judaism and popular culture in journals such as The Journal of Modern Jewish Studies and Shofar, and has forthcoming essays on teaching American Jewish Humor for the MLA's Teaching Options series and Lenny Bruce and Jewish masculinity for a volume on post-Holocaust humor from Wayne State University Press.

Sara Swenson receives the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program award

Sara Ann Swenson, PhD Student

April 8, 2017

Sara Swenson (Ph.D. Student), has received the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program award. With this support, Sara Swenson will complete 10 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, interviewing members of newly founded lay and monastic Buddhist volunteer programs. Her project is entitled: "'Sharing Hearts': Buddhism, Social Services, and Privatization in Vietnam." The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies offers an articulated set of fellowship and grant competitions that will expand the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist thought in scholarship and society, strengthen international networks of Buddhist studies, and increase the visibility of innovative currents in those studies. The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships provide one-year stipends for PhD candidates to devote full time to preparing dissertations. The fellowship period may be used for fieldwork, archival research, analysis of findings, or for writing after research is complete."

Reflection on the end of the Place of Religion in Film Conference

The Place of Religion in Film cover photo

April 6, 2017
Last Weekend, March 31-April 1, the Department of Religion hosted the Ray Smith Symposium: The Place of Religion in Film, Thank you very much to all of the plenary speakers (Sara Horowitz, June Hwang, & Joaquim Pinto), conference presenters, and attendees. The lingering conversations and lively intellectual engagement with one another are what truly make conferences a fruitful endeavor. Prof. Zachary Braiterman writing about his experience of the conference states: "In the “best” films, if the divine or “the spiritual” make an appearance it is always sensed obliquely in the wake of some lived apprehension of the world." Conference organizers, Prof. M. Gail Hamner  (Religion) and Rebecca A. Moody (Ph.D. candidate, Religion) gathered scholars from ten countries and ten U.S. states. The robust international presence assured an unusually diverse and interdisciplinary discussion. The Symposium also foregrounded student work and training. At the opening dinner Rebecca Moody presented her Fulbright research on Moroccan film, and Ithaca College undergraduate, Dani Hobbs, screened her senior thesis film, "Good Neighbors" about refugees in Buffalo, NY. Then on Saturday, the conference hosted a mentoring lunch for graduate students wishing to teach religion and film, facilitated by Ithaca College Professor, Rachel Wagner, and funded by Peter Vanable, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School. The Ray Smith Symposium is funded by Syracuse University Humanities Council, with support from Dean Karin Ruhlandt. Additional funding for this year's Symposium was provided by the Religion Department, the Humanities Center, the Graduate School, the English Department (with particular support from Prof. Roger Hallas), the Newhouse Department of Television, Radio and Film (with particular support from Prof. Tula Goenka), the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, and the Philosophy Department. Joaquim Pinto’s plenary session was made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ 2017 Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds Grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.

ALT-AC Career Panel

Four panelists are sitting facing and audience discussing other career options for Ph.D's in Religion, besides being a professor. Seated left to right is Prof. James W. Watts, Juliana Finucane, Jason Larson, & Jill Adams.

April 2, 2017

The Department’s Future Professoriate Program (FPP) hosted a panel of three PhD alumnae/i on March 25, 2017, to discuss careers for PhDs outside college/university faculty positions. It was a joy to welcome back to campus Juliana Finucane (PhD ’09), a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department, Jason Larson (PhD ’12), who is on the faculty of the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT, and Jill Adams (PhD ’13), Director of Experiential Learning for Oxford College of Emory University. Joining them on the panel was Dr. Daniel Olsen-Bang from SU Career Services. Not pictured: Daniel Olson-Bang of Syracuse University Career services.

Ann G. Gold to deliver a lecture at Vanderbilt University

Flyer for Ann Grodzins Gold's talk, Ann Grodzins Gold (Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion), to deliever a lecture entitled: "Never-ending Story of a Minor River in Rajasthan: Myth, Nostalgia, Despair, Effor, Hope"

March 29, 2017

Ann Grodzins Gold (Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion), to deliever a lecture entitled: "Never-ending Story of a Minor River in Rajasthan: Myth, Nostalgia, Despair, Effor, Hope" to the Vanderbilt University Department of Religious Studies.

Sara Swenson won the 2017 Theta Alpha Kappa, Albert Clark Award

Sara Swenson, PhD Student

March 23, 2017
Sara Swenson (PhD Student), won the 2017 Theta Alpha Kappa, Albert Clark Award for best graduate paper.  Her paper, “'Friending' Buddhists in the Field: Using Social Media as an Ethnographic Method” was judged to be the best from the 22 essays submitted at the graduate level by a panel of 3 judges who teach at institutions with TAK chapters.  In addition to a cash prize, her paper will be published in one of the two issues of the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa in 2018.  JTAK is a peer-reviewed journal indexed by ATLA.

Julie Edelstein receives the Bernard Bate Tamil Language Student Scholarship.

March 22, 2017
 Julie Edelstein (MA Student), who will complete her Masters degree at Syracuse this spring, has been awarded the Bernard Bate Tamil Language Student Scholarship from the American Institute of Indian Studies.   Julie’s award covers not only travel expenses and tuition but provides a stipend for her living expenses in the city of Madurai during summer 2017 and academic year 2017-18.

John Caputo's The Weakness of God translated as La faiblesse de dieu

The Weakness of God/La faiblesse de dieu isbn: 9782830916034

March 21, 2017
Professor Emeritus John D. Caputo's book The Weakness of God has just been translated into French as La faiblesse de Dieu (Labor et Fides, 2016).

"You Don't Know What Pain Is: Affect, Animals, and the Lifeworld" a talk by Donovan Schaefer

Donovan Schaefer (Ph.D. 2012).

March 20, 2017
Donovan Schaefer (Ph.D. 2012) to deliver a talk entitled  "You Don't Know What Pain Is: Affect, Animals, and the Lifeworld" at LeMoyne College, Monday, March 20, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.

Jim Wiggins has passed away

Jim Wiggins

March 2, 2017

It is with great sadness that I send to this community the news of the passing of our great colleague and friend Jim Wiggins.  Below are two obituaries.  Please join us for the Memorial Service next Saturday 4 March at 11 am at the University United Methodist Church, 1085 E. Genesee St. Syracuse, NY.  Also below is a link to an interview with Jim from December 2015 helping us to recall the profound depth and integrity of his work.

Longtime Religion Department Chair, Former Interim Dean of Hendricks Chapel Mourned by Renée K. Gadoua.

Wiggins, ordained as a United Methodist minister, came to Syracuse in 1963 after earning a Ph.D. at Drew University. A native of Texas who never lost his drawl, he was an expert in Western religion and culture. His many publications include “Religion as Story” (Harper & Row, 1975) and “In Praise of Religious Diversity” (Routledge, 1996). From 1983 until 1992, he served as executive director of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), the largest academic organization dedicated to the study of religion. For several years, he hosted “Religion Matters,” a local public television show.

“In many ways, Jim was the architect of this department. While his particular area was Western religions, his constant emphasis was interreligious understanding and respect,” says Philip Arnold, religion department chair. “He would bring into our department world-renowned academics like David Miller, Huston Smith, Charles Long, Charles Winquist, as well as an impressive stream of visiting luminaries. This all served to place us among the top 15 graduate programs of religion in the United States.”

Syracuse Post-Standard Obituary

A 2015 interview with Jim Wiggins on Trancendence and Awakenings, PDF.

Announcing the publication of Place/No-Place in Urban Asian Religiosity edited by Joanne Punzo Waghorne, ARI-Springer Asian Series. Dordrecht/Heidelberg/London/New York: Springer, 2016.

Joanne Punzo Waghorne, Professor of Religion

February 28, 2017

Book cover for Place/No-Place in Urban Asian Religiosity edited by Joanne Punzo Waghorne, ARI-Springer Asian Series. Dordrecht/Heidelberg/London/New York: Springer, 2016.

Announcing the publication of Place/No-Place in Urban Asian Religiosity edited by Joanne Punzo Waghorne, ARI-Springer Asian Series. Dordrecht/Heidelberg/London/New York: Springer, 2016.

The volume developed from an international conference held at Syracuse organized by Ann Gold, Gareth Fisher and Joanne Waghorne with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the Central New York Humanities Corridor. The volume published through the Asia Research Institute (National University of Singapore) ARI-Springer series remains Syracuse-rich with chapters by Ann Gold and Gareth Fisher plus work of our alums Yohan Yoo and Juliana Finucane and a recent PhD from anthropology, Madhura Lohokare.


  1. Introduction: Negotiating Place, Non-place, and No-Place—Joanne Punzo Waghorne
  2. From Megachurches to the Invisible Temple: Placing the Protestant “Church” in the Seoul Metropolitan Area—Yohan Yoo
  3. No-Place, New Places: Death and Its Rituals in Urban Asia—Lily Kong
  4. Alone Together: Global Gurus, Cosmopolitan Space, and Community—Joanne Punzo Waghorne
  5. On Daoism and Religious Networks in a Digital Age—Jean DeBernardi
  6. Losing the Neighborhood Temple (Or Finding the Temple and Losing the Neighborhood): Transformations of Temple Space in Modern Beijing—Gareth Fisher
  7. Roadside Shrines, Storefront Saints, and Twenty-First Century Lifestyles: The Cultural and Spatial Thresholds of Indian Urbanism—Smriti  Srinivas
  8. Cosmopolitan Spaces, Local Pathways: Making a Place for Soka Gakkai in Singapore— Juliana  Finucane
  9. Neighborhood Associations in Urban India: Intersection of Religion and Space in Civic Participation— Madhura  Lohokare
  10. Making Places for Vivekananda in Gwalior: Local Leadership, National Concerns, and Global Vision— Daniel Gold
  11. Carving Place: Foundational Narratives from a North Indian Market Town—Ann Grodzins Gold

Available from Amazon in print and kindle expensive but…

Place/No-Place in Urban Asian Religiosity (ARI - Springer Asia Series)Jul 15, 2016 Edited by Joanne Punzo Waghorne ISBN:9789811003844

Philip Arnold to deliver a talk on the role of History of Religion in Decolonizing Sacred Space

February 6, 2017
Professor and Chair Philip P. Arnold, to deliever a talk entitled “History of Religion’s Role in Decolonizing Sacred Space: The Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center at the McGill the Centre for Research on Religion / Centre de Recherche sur la Religion (CREOR). (PDF)

Ahmed Meguid to deliver a talk at the University of Toronto

Ahmed Meguid, Assistant Professor

February 1, 2017
Prof. Ahmed Meguid, to deliever a talk entitled "Against Arbitrariness and Romanticism: al-Qarāfī’s Outline of the Legal and Ethical Logic of Sovereignty" to the Center for Ethics, at the University of Toronto.

AAR & SBL speak out against travel bans

January 30, 2017

Recent statements from our our learned societies regarding the U.S. Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” 

William Robert was promoted to Associate Professor

January 5, 2017

William Robert (Associate Professor) was promoted to his current rank effective Fall 2016. Dr. Robert has been with Syracuse University for ten years, coming to SU as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2006, followed by successive appointments in the Department of Religion as Visiting Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor.

Gareth Fisher has been awarded a short-term research grant

January 3, 2017

Gareth Fisher (Associate Professor) has been awarded a Short-Term research grant from the Association for Asian Studies to conduct research on new Buddhist temple construction in China during the spring semester of 2017.

Rob Ruehl has a VAP at St. John Fisher College

January 3, 2017

Robert Ruehl (Ph.D. 2014) has been appointed Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

Donovan Schaefer will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania

Donovan O. Schaefer (Ph.D. 2012)

Donovan O. Schaefer (Ph.D. 2012) will be taking up a new position as an assistant professor in the department of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a departmental lecturer in science and religion at the University of Oxford. He earned his B.A. in the interdisciplinary Religion, Literature, and the Arts program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. His master’s and doctoral degrees are from Syracuse University. After completing his doctorate, he held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Haverford College. His first book, Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power  (Duke 2015) challenges the notion that religion is inextricably linked to language and belief, proposing instead that it is primarily driven by affects.

Yohan Yoo promoted to full professor at Seoul National University

Yohan Yoo (PhD 2005) has been tenured and promoted to full professor at Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea.