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Faculty News

The Department is excited to have welcomed two new faculty members to the department this fall: Wei Wu and Javier Villa-Flores. Wei Wu completed her dissertation at Princeton University and is currently teaching East Asian Buddhism this fall. Javier Villa-Flores is senior scholar working in Christianities and colonial Mexico most recently serving as the Director of Graduate Studies in Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Chicago, Illinois.   

Deborah Lipstadt can be seen in this YouTube video, vigorously defending free speech in an Oxford Union debate on criminalizing Holocaust denial. Dr. Lipstadt's story has become a movie starring Rachel Weisz as Dr. Lipstadt! How cool is that? Spring 2016 saw filming on the quad of the film. Dr. Lipstadt famously fought a Holocaust denier in libel court in the 1990s resulting in a decisive victory in 2000.  You can find more on the story here.

Dianne Stewart's Fall 2016 "Black Love" class has received amazing buzz! This innovative class has been featured on social media and in Teen Vogue.  Most recently, the class was featured in the following Huffington Post article.  The Emory Department of African American Studies has more on the course here.

Vernon Robbins has published another edited volume in his “Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity” series with the Society of Biblical Literature: Foundations for Sociorhetorical Exploration: A Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Reader (Vernon K. Robbins, Robert H. von Thaden Jr., & Bart B. Bruehler).  This is a 20th anniversary volume for the programmatic introduction of Sociorhetorical Interpretation in 1996 by Vernon K. Robbins with Exploring the Texture of Texts and The Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse. The volume contains essays and chapters by various authors who have been formative along the way, developing the concept of topos in rhetorical argumentation, applying approaches to space and place in cultural geography, moving studies of metaphor into conceptual integration and blending theory with the aid of the cognitive sciences, and invigorating visual exegesis with study of rhetography, namely the rhetorical argumentation in a text that creates images and pictures in the mind.  

David R. Blumenthal has published two extended review esays: “What are the Limits of Protest Theology? Review Essay” and “Aaron Hughes’s ‘Jacob Neusner: An American Jewish Iconoclast.”  Dr. Blumenthal has also published a new book on Jewish Prayer: Keeping God at the Center: Contemplating and Using the Prayerbook, which contains insights on the meaning of selected phrases and prayers from the traditional liturgy and on the personalist theology behind traditional Jewish prayer. It also includes meditations on the liturgy, and clear instructions on how to pray certain prayers, both normally and mystically.

Our Chair Gary Laderman continues to write for Huffington Post about the study of religion.  His latest piece is specifically about American Christianity.  Previous articles including a piece specifically about teaching REL100 can be viewed here.

Dianne Stewart was honored at commencement as the recipient of the 2016 Eleanor Main Graduate Faculty Mentor Award. Read more about this prestigious award here.

David Blumenthal announced the opening of his portal on Jewish Prayer under the auspices of “Reverberations,” a unit of the Social Science Research Council.

Jim Hoesterey has a new book out, Rebranding Islam: Piety, Prosperity, and a Self-Help Guru, published by Stanford University Press (2015). Hoesterey examines the rise and fall of charismatic celebrity preacher Abdullah Gymnastiar of Indonesia. He was also awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for AY 2015-16 to study Islam, Diplomacy and Soft Power in Democratic Indonesia.

Sara McClintock was named a Senior Fellow for AY 2015-16 at the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. According to their website, the Center announces up to four annual internal Fellowships available to tenured members of the Emory University faculty for an academic year of study and residence in the Center. FCHI Senior Fellows will be released from their University teaching and service commitments for the academic year, in addition to receiving a research budget from the Center." During this fellowship, Prof. McClintock will work on a book, Transactional Reality, Transactional Truth, on Indian Buddhist epistemological theories of the production of truth and reality through the interaction of conceptual, discursive, and material processes.

At Commencement 2015, it was announced that our Bobbi Patterson was chosen as the recipient of the prestigious Emory University Thomas Jefferson Award for her extraordinary service and leadership.

Joyce Flueckiger and Sara McClintock were advisers and editors for the Carlos Museum's new web resource Odyssey Online: South Asia which helps students understand objects in the collection in Hindu and Buddhist contexts.

Congratulations to Vernon Robbins for recent publications and recognition. He is co-editor (with GDR student Jonathan Potter) of a new collection of essays, Jesus and Mary Reimagined in Early Christian Literature, just published by SBL Press.  Prof. Robbins also has written an important chapter in the recent collection Genealogies of New Testament Rhetorical Criticism, a Fortress Press book in which he is identified and appreciated as one of five pioneers in the field.

A new and expanded edition of Gary Laderman's Religion and American Cultures: Tradition, Diversity, and Popular Expression, edited with Luis Leon, was published in December 2014 by ABC-Clio.

Kudos to Joyce Flueckiger on her new book, Everyday Hinduism, which has just been published by Wiley-Blackwell (May 2015).

Jim Hoesterey was quoted in the New York Times in an article about ISIS and satire.

Congratulations to Eric Reinders whose book on bowing, Buddhist and Christian Responses to the Kowtow Problem in China, has just been published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Don Seeman has been quoted in a recent New York Times article on religious objections to vaccination. Dr. Seeman returned to campus this academic year after a research leave supported by the Social Science Research Council and the Mind and Life Foundation. His recent essay, "Publishing Godliness: The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Other Revolution," is part of an ethnographic study of contemplative practice in contemporary Hasidism.

Joyce Flueckiger received a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship for 2014-15 which will allow her to examine the agency of materiality in India. Her fellowship was acknowledged in President Wagner's recent annual report video.

Our chair Gary Laderman has written an interesting piece in Cosmologics Magazine titled "Funereal Choices." This year Gary  was named a Goodrich C. White Professor. This honor goes to selected full professors in Emory College "who have distinguished themselves by extraordinary service to the university and by strong accomplishment in research and teaching."

Deborah Lipstadt was part of a presidential delegation attending an anti-semitism conference in Berlin in November 2014.

Jim Hoesterey has written a short essay on Islam/soft power that has recently been posted online at Middle East Institute as part of their 'Middle East-Asia Program'.  You can find more information here.

Congratulations to Vernon Robbins who received word of unanimous approval of the proposal for SBL Press to publish all future volumes of Emory Studies in Early Christianity (ESEC), the Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Series (RRA), and the Sociorhetorical Exploration Commentaries (SREC), assuring widespread local and international distribution of the volumes and it establishes the legacy of the Socio-Rhetorical approach within the Society of Biblical Literature, which is the premier scholarly society for biblical study both in North America and internationally. 

David Blumenthal has been honored by the new Brill publication, David R. Blumenthal: Living with God and Humanity, edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron W. Hughes and the 7th book in the series "Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers." This is a wonderful selection of essays and commentary on his significant contributions.

Prof. Blumenthal received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) at its commencement on June 1, 2014 at Temple Sinai in Dresher, Pennsylvania. The degree is awarded by RRC to scholars and organizational leaders who have distinguished themselves in the pursuit of Reconstructionist ideals and who have made outstanding contributions to the Jewish community or to religious life in North America or Israel. Blumenthal was honored in recognition of his contributions in the field of medieval Jewish philosophy and modern Jewish theology.

Congratulations to Lobsang Negi who received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to support the Emory-Tibet Partnership for $1.5 million over 3 years to help fund the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI). The grant funds, along with other university and donor support, will be used to develop, translate, and publish science curriculum material, record video lectures, provide computers and lab supplies, and cover travel costs for Emory faculty to teach summer intensives in Tibetan monasteries in southern India. The six-year curriculum includes Philosophy of Science, Physics, Biology and Neuroscience.

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Student News


Religion major Emily Spears received one of the 2017 Humanity in Action Fellowships for intensive exploration of human rights in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Way to go, Emily! You can read more here.

Congratulations to the Winners of our Departmental Awards AY 2016-17

Emily Spears and Virginia Spinks shared the Paul B. Courtright Prize for Overall Excellence among Majors in the Department.

Anh-Duy Nguyen was the undergraduate recipient of the John Fenton Prize in the Comparative Study of Religion. Cory Driver and Alphonso Saville were the graduate recipients. Given annually, the prizes are awarded to those students whose work represents the best in the comparative study of religions: rigor, textual or ethnographic depth, and innovation in comparative work.

Zoe Ravina received the William A. Beardslee Prize in Religious Literature, First Place. Joshua Perlin received the William A. Beardslee Prize in Religious Literature, Second Place.

Anh-Duy Nguyen
received
the Eugene Bianchi Prize in Religion. This prize was established by Professor Emeritus Eugene Bianchi to honor an undergraduate Religion major who demonstrates outstanding service to the community in a way that integrates his or her studies in religion with a commitment to engaged scholarship.

Congratulations to students inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa (national honor society for religion) in Spring 2017 (some of whom are shown in the photo below with fellow students at the ceremony and year-end celebration)!

Claire Barnes

Blair Ely

Kavitha Eechambadi

Lucy kucheryavaya

Micaela McCall

Akshar Patel

Zoe Ravina

Emily Spears

Religion students at TAK induction

Please view and share a new video on Emory's YouTube channel showcasing the Department through interviews with some of our many wonderful students and alums. Here's a second video featuring more of Alizeh Ahmad who has recently been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.

video on Emory's website showing the impact of a liberal arts education features Religion major Blake Mayes and is worth a look. (Students, feel free to send the link to your parents!) 


Students, faculty, staff and guests enjoyed a post-Commencement reception where our departmental awards were announced.

(L-R) First photo: Chair Gary Laderman with recipients of the Paul B. Courtright Prize for overall excellence in the major, Virginia Spinks and Emily Spears

Second photo: Graduating religion major (and recipient of John Fenton Prize) Snehaja Yadlapati with Prof. Bobbi Patterson

Chair Gary Laderman with Courtright Prize recipients Virginia Spinks and Emily Spears
Fenton Prize recipient Snehaja Yadlapati with Prof. Bobbi Patterson

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