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.
- 2022- Derek Buyan, Kirsten Collins, Marielle Harrison, Allison Kanner-Botan. Please read their course descriptions, below:
Derek Buyan: Does 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.
- 2021- Caroline Anglim, Joel Brown, Menachem Kranz, Sara Jo Swiatek
- 2020- Matthew Creighton, Mark Lambert, Matthew Peterson, Paride Stortini
|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|