Alma Wilson Fellowship

The Alma Wilson Fellowship Teaching Prize offers doctoral students and candidates in the Divinity School, with a record of outstanding teaching record, the opportunity to design and teach a course of their own design in the University’s Undergraduate Program in Religious Studies.

Derek BuyanDoes American Democracy Need Religion?
In the United States, we find ourselves living as part of a democracy. But that simple fact doesn't necessarily make us fans of democracy by default. In fact, it leaves many questions unanswered: Is democracy a good thing? If so, why and on what grounds? Why should you or I value democracy and its ideals (e.g., equality, liberty, fraternity)? If we do, what (if anything) grounds our devotion to this shared political tradition? And does, can, or should religion have a role to play? In this course, we will explore American democracy as a normative tradition and its relationship to various religious traditions in American society. Through examining key interpreters of American democracy such as Danielle Allen, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cornel West, Joshua Abraham Heschel, and Amanda Gorman, we will approach the question of how religion and democracy relate to one another. We'll investigate the relative independence of democracy and religion, focusing on philosophers and poets who emphasize American democracy as tradition in its own right. We will also consider "Civil Religion in America," through the work of sociologists and historians who suggest the dependence of the democratic on religion or something like it. Finally, we'll question the relative interdependence of American democracy and religious traditions by turning to claims of influential religious and political leaders and activists. No prerequisite knowledge required.
Allison Kanner-Botan: Love, Desire, and Sexuality in Islamic Texts and Contexts
What separates love from lust? How do our erotic desires and sexual practices intersect with our beliefs? This interdisciplinary class explores these questions in conversation with foundational thinkers from the Islamic tradition alongside insights from feminist and queer theory. We will delve into questions on the relationship between romantic, familial, and divine love; gender, sexuality, and the body; and Orientalism and the politics of reading desire cross-culturally. Exploring a diverse set of primary sources that range from the Qur'ān to Rūmī's Masnāvī to contemporary Bollywood, we will encounter different representations of love, desire, and sexuality in religious and philosophical discourses, literary representations, and visual media. We will examine not only how these representations reflect different historical norms, but also how and to what extent texts and images can inform or impact the norms of their contexts as well. No prerequisite knowledge of the topics or time periods discussed is needed, and students will have the opportunity over the course of the class to develop a project that relates our content to their own interests.
Kirsten Collins: Race and Religion: Theorizing Blackness and Jewishness
Founded on ideals of universalism, pluralism and secularism, France and the United States are fraught with contradictions when it comes to race and religion. Which religions are accepted? Which religions are suspect? Is it minority that defines the difference-or only particular kinds of minority, such as race? To untangle the intersections of race and religion, we will examine Blackness and Jewishness as they are represented in political polemic, fiction, memoir and philosophy from the 1960s to the present. This course introduces students to the foundational concepts for the critical study of race and religion through exploring the constructions of Black and Jewish identity. We will examine the contradictions of secular politics and culture in France and the United States, and discuss how religion, race, and intersecting categories such as gender and sexuality, can become tools of critique. Readings include works by thinkers such as Césaire, Fanon, Memmi, Levinas and Foucault, along with literary classics by Nella Larsen and Sarah Kofman, and contemporary critical essays by Judith Butler, Christina Sharpe and Talal Asad. Throughout this course, we will examine how the concepts of race and religion are key components of the political, philosophical and ethical projects of these authors. No prerequisite knowledge of critical theory, or this historical period, is expected.
Marielle Harrison: The Prophet Q
In the wake of the January 6th 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, the QAnon phenomenon has received sustained global attention as news and government agencies scramble to understand this online movement's role in the attack, the threat it continues to pose, and why it is that one out of every six Americans believes that former President Trump is secretly battling an elite group of politicians, media moguls, and academics who are deeply involved in child sex trafficking and satanic sacrifice. This course will investigate the phenomenon of QAnon through the lens of New Religious Movements (NRMs)-seeking to understand the complex interplay of factors that incites people to become immersed in these groups. Using examples from American New Religious Movements of the 20th century such as Scientology, the Rajneesh movement, and Jonestown, we will delve into the history of these groups in order to examine the motivations that drive individuals into these "fringe" religious movements. In the process, we will interrogate the usefulness of such labels as "religion" and "cult" and ultimately hope to better understand how power, race, gender, and practices of dissimulation play active roles in both these new religious movements and within QAnon.


Derek Buyan 2021-2022 Spring RLST 25563 Does American Democracy Need Religion?
Allison Kanner-Botan 2021-2022 Spring RLST 28013 Love, Desire, and Sexuality in Islamic Texts and Contexts
Kirsten Collins 2021-2022 Winter RLST 27721 Race and Religion: Theorizing Blackness and Jewishness
Marielle Harrison 2021-2022 Autumn RLST 28991 The Prophet Q
Joel Brown 2020-2021 Spring RLST 27720 Race and Religion in Chicago
Mendel Kranz 2020-2021 Spring RLST 29104 Antisemitism and Islamophobia, Historically and Today
Caroline Anglim 2020-2021 Winter RLST 24160 Whom Am I To Judge? Relativism and Religious Difference
Sara-Jo Swiatek 2020-2021 Autumn RLST 27802 Technology and The Human
Matthew Peterson 2019-2020 Spring RLST 28989 Virtual Realities and Religious Realities
Paride Stortini 2019-2020 Spring RLST 26220 Buddhism and Modernity: East and West
Matthew Creighton 2019-2020 Winter RLST 28211 Intro to Religion and Literature: Dramatic Encounters
Mark Lambert 2019-2020 Winter RLST 26302 Religion, Medicine, and Ilness
Russell Johnson 2018-2019 Spring RLST 28511 Star Wars and Religion
Lisa Landoe Hedrick 2018-2019 Spring RLST 23805 The Problems with God-Talk
Andrew Kunze 2018-2019 Winter/Spring RLST 27420 American Hinduism
Maureen Kelly 2018-2019 Winter RLST 24710 Geneaology of Confession: Foucault, Christianity, and The History of Truth
Marshall Cunningham 2017-2018 Spring RLST 20230 Jerusalem: The "Holy" City
Greg Chatterley 2016-2017 Winter RLST 10100 Intro to Religious Studies
Alexander Hsu 2015-2016 Spring RLST 26200 Reading Buddhist Scriptures as Literature: The Lotus Sutra
Emily Crews 2015-2016 Autumn RLST 28011 Religions of the African Diaspora
Philippa Koch 2014-2015 Spring RLST 21311 Health and The Body in American Religions
Andrew Durdin 2014-2015 Winter RLST 22311 The Ancient Romans and Their Religion
Tarick Elgendy 2013-2014 Spring RLST 24913 Marginalized Theologies
Jessica Andruss 2013-2014 Winter RLST 20910 Prophets in Jewish and Islamic Traditions
Alexander Rocklin 2012-2013 Spring RLST 21403 Race and Religion in the Americas
Joseph Ballan 2011-2012 Winter RLST 23604 Problems of Evil: Narrative, Theodicy, Anti-Theodicy
Megan Doherty 2010-2011 Winter RLST 24303 Faith, Reason, and The Existence of God
Sarah Imhoff 2009-2010 Autumn RLST 21105 Women in American Jewish History
Garry Sparks Jr. 2008-2009 Spring RLST 21402 Missionaries and Mesoamericans in the 1500s
Marsaura Shukla 2007-2008 Spring RLST 24301 Historical Knowledge and Biblical Faith
Adam Darlage 2006-2007 Winter RLST 22601 The Radical Reformation
Lea Schweitz 2005-2006 Spring RLST 24302 Pragmatism and Religion: Willliam James Today
David Simmons 2004-2005 Winter RLST 28601 Goethe: Faust