Ph.D. Job Candidates
Rebecca Falcasantos, PhD Candidate
Rebecca has recently and successfully defended her dissertation, " 'A Land Cleansed of Heretics;: Cult Practice and Contestation in the Christianization of Late Antique Constantinople," and graduated in May 2015. Her disseration is the 2015 winner of the Joukowsky Family Award for Outstanding Dissertation in the Humanities, the highest honor Brown gives for dissertations. Starting July 1, 2015, Rebecca will be Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology at Providence College.
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
Dolores Zohrab Liebman Fellow
Stephen's research focuses on Judaism in the Hellenistic through early Roman Imperial periods and Christianity in the first through third centuries. He uses his expertise in these areas to explore his broader interest in the dynamics, social-locations, and re-uses of myth; ideas and rituals relating to the afterlife; discourses and ideologies about deities; as well as claims about and religious practices involving reading/writing and sacred books in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean.
In his dissertation, "Paul the Apostle, the Mythmaker: Innovative Reuse of Recognizable Myths to Explain his Christ Cult to Gentiles," Stephen argues that Paul reused known mythic themes and patterns in the Greco-Roman world, and reused materials from his Jewish sacred books in the light of these mythic schemes, to explain the relevance of his Jewish Christ-cult for Gentiles. Paul would thus have been recognizable to his audiences as a religious expert among the many in their world who reused known myths to articulate and authorize the divine benefits they offered.
Stephen also researches Paul and the reception, construction, and contestian over Paul through the 4th century; Cognitive and Psychological approaches to religion, morality, and human diversity; and the Cultural/Intellectual "elites" among American Evangelical and "post-Evangelical" Christians, capitalizing upon their scholarship and discourses as a rich and varied data set for studying modern religion.