Religious Studies has a new Facebook  page!  Come check us out and learn about the latest events, news and other happenings in the Department, community and beyond.  

We wish to offer the warmest congratulations to Robyn Faith Walsh, who has recently accepted a tenure-track assistant professorship in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Miami, beginning Fall 2014. This position will allow Robyn to bridge the Religious Studies and Classics departments, as well as continue her archaeological research in Spain and Rome through Miami's URome program. She is also planning to join Miami's Hellenistic Petra Project in Jordan.

Religious Studies is offereing several new courses this semester:

A First Year Seminar with Prof. Nicola Denzey-Lewis, "The Bible and Social Media," Tuesdays, 12-2:30 in the Shirley Miller House, Rm 101).

With Prof. Nancy Khalek, "Islam Today: 

Religion and Culture in the Modern Middle East and Beyond."  The class will be held on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, from 10-10:50am, in Wilson 305.  Note: This fulfills the MES Foundations Requirement and DVPS/LILE/WRIT.  For more information, please contact Prof. Khalek.  


And, "Religious Ethnographies (RELS 1720)," with Prof. Elayne Oliphant, on Mondays, 3-5:20pm in Wilson 106.



Religious Studies is delighted to share that our graduate student, Niki Clements, will join the faculty at Rice University on July 1 of this year as the Watt J. and Lilly G. Jackson Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. Her tenure-track appointment will specialize in Catholic History and Thought, teaching and researching Christianity in Late Antiquity and modern philosophy of religion and religious ethics

The Religious Studies Department is pleased to announce two new courses taught by

New Courses Fall 2013New Courses Fall 2013 Visiting Assistant Professor Daniel Vaca:

RELS0087 Religion in America
MWF 10-1o:50; Wilson Hall 109
From Native American traditions and Puritan migrations in the seventeenth century to Barack Obama's "crypto-Islam" and debates over gay rights in the twenty-first century: American history is religious history.  For centuries, religion has shaped how Americans have carried out their everyday lives, interacted with others, understood themselves, and perceived the wider world.  Focusing primarily on religious life in the United States, this course invites students to explore the debates and thematic tensions that have oriented the relationship between religion and society in North America.  Requiring no prerequisites, this introductory course takes up such varied issues as race, ethnicity, science, gender, capitalism, pluralism, sexuality, secularism.  

RELS0845 Religious Freedom in America 
M 3-5:20; Sayles Hall 204
"Religious Freedom," former Secretary Hilary Rodham Clinton remarked in 2009, "provides a cornerstone for every healthy society."  It is, Clinton continued, "a founding principle of our nation."  As Clinton's remarks illustrate, the concept of religious freedom is central to how people perceive te history of the United States and its position in the world today.  But what is religious freedom?  Does it actually exist?  Has it ever?  This seminar invites students to ask and answer these and other questions about the contested concept, engaging such varied issues as race, secularism, law, media, money, pluralism, and foreign policy.  

The Religious Studies Department is pleased to welcome several new members to the community:

Visiting Assistant Professor Daniel Vaca -  Daniel is an Americanist,Daniel VacaDaniel Vaca studying the history of religion in North America.  He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University and before coming to Brown held a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University.



Elayne OliphantElayne OliphantPostdoctoral Fellow  in Religion Secularization and the International Elayne Oliphant - Elayne has earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Unviersity of Chicago in Decemeber 2012.  Her dissertation, Signs of an Unmarked Faith: Visions of Secularism, Catholicism, and Islam in Paris examines the complex and sometimes contradictory forms that secularism takes in contemporary Paris.  Before coming to Brown, Elayne spent a semester at Sweet Briar College as Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology.  

Finally, we are pleased to welcome our three incoming graduate students, Alexis Glenn, Caroline Kory, and Sarah Woodbury.   Alexis earned her MA from University of Colorado, Boulder and her BA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  Caroline comes to us from Grinnell College in Iowa where she earned her BA.  Both Caroline and Alexis will be studying Religion and Critical Thought.  Sarah earned her MTS in Hebrew Bible from Harvard Divinity School, and her BA from Smith College.  Sarah will primarily be studying in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean program.

Professor Susan A. Harvey has  recently been awarded the Royce FamilySusan A. HarveySusan A. Harvey Professor of Teaching Excellence.  The Royce Family Professorships are awarded  for terms of three years to faculty who exhibit a high level of commitment to teaching and advising students.  Faculty chosen demonstrate pedogogical innovation and excellence, not only to teaching but to scholarship and University service as well.  


Anna Bialek, a current graduate student in the Religion and Critical Thought track, has recently been awarded Brown's prestigious Presidential Award for Teaching.  The award is annual prize given to graduate students to recognize excellence in pedagogical achievement.  

Karen King, a Brown Religious Studies alumna, who earned her PhD in 1983,  has been awarded the Horace Mann Medal for Distinguished Graduate School Alumni.  The award was established in 2003, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Graduate School.  The award is named in honor of Horace Mann, class of 1819, who  created the nation's first state board of education and is widely regarded as the father of American public school education. The Horace Mann Medal is given annually by the Graduate School to an almnus or alumna who has made significant contribution to his or her field.  

Karen is currently Hollis Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School, the oldest endowed chair in the United States.  She is the author of several books including The Gospel of Mary Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle (2003);  What is Gnosticism? (2003); and Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and Shaping Christianity (2007).  

Niki Clements, a doctoral student in Religious Studies, has just been Niki ClementsNiki Clementsawarded one of two prestigious Brown/Wheaton Fellowships.  The Brown/Wheaton Faculty Fellowship is a collaborative program that provides an opportunity for an advanced graduate student to not only teach, but get a sense of what faculty life is like at a liberal arts college.  Niki will teach next spring, a course she designed, "Demons, Melancholy and Madness." For more information about this year's winners, please click here.


Megan McBride, graduate student in Religious Studies, recently co-authored an article with Jessica Stern, Fellow at the Hoover Institution and FXB Center for Human Rights, Harvard University, titled "Terrorism after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq."  The article is part of a broader study by the Watson Institute for International Studies, Costs of War, which looks at Iraq 10 years after the invasion.  The Stern/McBride article examinesCosts of WarCosts of War how the United States invasion of Iraq effected terrorism in the region.  The United States had claimed that invading Iraq would prevent the country from becoming a "safe haven for terrorists."  The article argues that the invasion had the opposite effect, and actually increased terrorism in the country (and also region) as the U.S. presence in the country acted as a recruiting tool for jihadi leaders and provided a training opportunity for militant groups.  


The Religious Studies Department is happy to announce that it has been awarded one of four International Postdoctoral Fellowships for 2013-15 offered through the Cogut Center for the Humanities.  The post-doc will focus on the area of "Religion, Secularization, and the International," and collaborate closely with the Religion and Internationalism Project. Applicants from across the humanities and social sciences are encouraged to apply, provided they have a strong background in the academic study of religion.  The Department is particularly looking for applicants with critical and historical perspectives on the construction of domains such as "the religious," "the secular," and "the political" as well as on the formation of international political regimes.  Applicants must have received a Ph.D. from an institution other than Brown within the last five years (as far back as 2008).  Applications are now being accepted.  To see the full job listing or to apply please visit:  Review of applications will begin on February 15, 2013.   


Gregory SchopenGregory SchopenThe Religious Studies Department is thrilled to welcome to the faculty in Spring 2013, as Rush C. Hawkins Professor of Religious Studies.  Schopen joins us from UCLA  and is the author Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks (University of Hawaii Press, 1997); Buddhist Monks and Business Matters (University of Hawaii Press, 2004); and Figments and Fragments of Mahayana Buddhism in India (University of Hawaii Press, 2005).  Prof. Schopen's research focuses on Indian Buddhist monastic life and early Mahayana movements.  


The Religious Studies Department offers its warmest congratulations to the following:

Alissa MacMillian, who just defended her dissertation in Religion and Critical Thought, has been awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, France.

Recent Ph.D. graduate, Debra Scoggins Ballentine, has been offered and accepted a tenure-track position at Rutgers University.  Debra started her new position as of July 1, 2012.

Our soon to be 2nd year PhD student in Religion and Critical Thought, Megan McBride, has been selected to participate in the Hertog Global Strategy Initiative's seminar on "The History and Future of Religious Violence and Apocalyptic Movements" this summer, at Columbia University

Andrea Allgood Smith, a current Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean graduate student, has been awarded the John Cargill MacMillian Fellowship through the Cogut Center for the 2012-13 academic year.  

We are thrilled to share the following news from our undergraduate concentrators:

Michael Zack Mezera will be an undergraduate fellow at the Cogut Center for the Humanities for 2012-13.

And both Matthew Peterson and Joshua Schenkkan have been awarded UTRA fellowships to work with Professors Thomas Lewis and Stephen Bush (respectively), this summer!

And from the faculty: 

Prof. Ross Kraemer has been elected as President of the New England Regional Society for Biblical Literature for 2012-13, and will be a faculty fellow at the Cogut Center in Spring 2013.

Prof. Susan A. Harvey has received the 2012 Karen T. Romer Award for Excellence in Advising!