Ph.D. Job Candidates
Rebecca Falcasantos, PhD Candidate
Rebecca is a Ph.D. candidate in the Early Christianity program. Rebecca's primary field is Christianity in Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium, and her research broadly focuses on the formulation of Christian identity and contestations over cultural hegemony in the Eastern Empire. She is particularly interested in issues of religious diversity and strategies used in the promulgation of a normative Christian cultural identity, including homiletics, hymnography, architectural programs, ritual life, and material-oriented practice. She is also interested in the role of memory and topography in the creation of religious landscapes.
Rebecca's teaching interests include Christianity in Late Antiquity (Patristics), New Testament and Early Christianity, Syriac Christianity, Greek and Roman religion and culture, and the History of Christianity.
Elizabeth Cecil, Ph.D. Candidate
Elizabeth is a Ph.D. Candidate in the South Asian Religions Program. She received a B.A. with High Distinction in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Hastings College in 2005, and an M.A. in Religious Studies and Sanskrit from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2008. Elizabeth's dissertation, "Mapping a Contested Landscape: Religion, Politics, and Place in the Making of Pashupata Identity," investigates the growth of the earliest Shaiva devotional movement (i.e. Pashupatas) in early medieval northwest India. Through an interdisciplinary approach that unites philological work on Sanskrit manuscripts and inscriptions with the study of material culture, her research explores the use of sanctified spaces to articulate a Shaiva idenity grounded in site-specific religious practices.
From August 2011 - May 2013 Elizabeth was a visiting Research Fellow in the Institute of Indian Studies at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands where she joined an international team of scholars in the editing and analysis of the Skandapurana, a recently recovered Sanskrit text preserved in 9th century palm-leaf manuscripts. As part of the Skandapurana research team, she also conducted fieldwork at temple sites throughout north India and assisted with archeological survey in Mahrashtra. Elizabeth is currently completing her dissertation fieldwork in India with the support of Mellon Dissertation Research Fellowships from the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).
Elizabeth's teaching and research interests include Indian devotional movemements, Sanskrit narrative literature, Indian epigraphy, the material culture and heritage of India, and practices of pilgrimage in South Asia. She is also competent to teach courses on Theory and Method in Religiou Studies and the History of World Religions. In Spring 2015, Elizabeth will teach a course at Brown that explores the history and uses of images in Indian religions.
Andrew Tobolowsky, Ph.D. Candidate
Andrew Tobolowsky is PhD candidate in the Religious Studies department, focusing primarily on Biblical studies with a strong secondary focus in Classics covering, roughly, the Iron and Archaic ages respectively. He has a B.A in Religious Studies from Brown University, an M.Phil in English Literature from Trinity College, Dublin and an M.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University. His work focuses on myth and the construction of various forms of identity from a broadly comparative Mediterranean perspective, and his dissertation is an investigation into myth genealogies and their role in constructing ethnicity and identity in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. He is additionally interested in ethnicity studies, myth theory, folklore, and methods of narrative transmission in the ancient Mediterranean, as well as Northwest Semitic languages and literature and Eastern Mediterranean archaeology.
Stephen Young, Ph.D. Candidate
Stephen is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University and the recipient of the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship for 2013-14. He studies religion in the ancient Mediterranean, focusing specifically on Judaism in the Hellenistic through early Roman Imperial periods and Christianity in the first through third centuries. He received a B.A. in Ancient History and English Literature from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 2004, and graduated with a MAR in Biblical Studies and Th.M. in Hebrew Bible from Westminster Theological Seminary in 2008.
Stephen’s dissertation, “Paul the Apostle, the Mythmaker: Innovative Reuse of Recognizable Myths to Explain his Christ-Cult to Gentiles,” pursues his Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic period interests in sacred books and mythmaking religious specialists who, in varying ways, used sacred books. It explores Paul within the landscape of mythmaking religious and philosophical specialists, arguing that we can understand many of Paul’s claims about Christ, Gentiles, the founding of his Christ-cult, sin, and the afterlife in terms of Paul innovatively reusing myths and mythic themes that were familiar to his Greco-Roman audiences, and, furthermore, that Paul drew upon Judean sacred writings in the light of these myths. Paul’s audiences would have recognized him as one among many religious gurus in their world who explained and authorized their cultic options through such reuse of known myths and associated interpretive activity involving sacred books.
Stephen’s areas of teaching competence include New Testament and other First through Third century Christian literature, Hellenistic and early Roman Imperial period Judaism, Hebrew Bible, Greco-Roman Religion and Philosophy, Theories of Religion, and the History and Ideologies of Biblical Interpretation.