Religion Department

New Summer Term Course: Shī'ī Islam

Andrew Newman '74, the Religion Department's Visiting Edinburgh Professor this Summer Term, will be teaching a new course this Summer Term, Rel. 28.05 (10A), Shī'ī Islam. The course will explore the history, doctrines, and practices of Shī'ī Islam, focusing on the Twelver Shī'ī  faith in particular. The Twelvers are the largest of today's three Shī'ī  faiths and comprise the majority of modern Iran's population but also majorities in a number of Arab countries, and substantial minorities in others such as in India and Pakistan. Translated materials will be offered to allow students direct access to key Shī'ī  writings composed over the centuries. The issue of sectarianism conflict in Sunnī-Shī'ī history will be one of the course's subthemes. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.

Randall Balmer on the religious right's concern about family values

Randall Balmer observed, in Elizabeth Dias' 6-20-18 New York Times article, "Evangelical Leaders Lament Border Separations, but Stand Behind Trump," that "The persistence of evangelical support for Trump, both his personal behavior and now his immigrations policies, finally lays to rest the illusion that the religious right was ever concerned about 'family values.'"

New Fall Term Religion Course: Religion & Technology

This Fall Term, 2018, Jeremy Sabella, who has taught at Boston College and Yale Divinity School and currently teaches at Kalamazoo College, and taught Rel. 11.01, “God & Money,” and Rel. 74.14, “Religion and Social Struggle in the Americas,” here this past Winter Term, will be back to teach Rel. 1.01 and a new Religion course:

Christian Theology's Economy of Conquest

In an article for the Stanford University Press blog, Assistant Professor of Religion Devin Singh explores Martin Luther King Jr.'s "challenge to the American church's capitalist God of war" and observes that, "Ensconced in the theologies, liturgies, and paeans of praise inherited by Christian communities over the centuries was a portrait of God who was, among many things, a conquering economist and savvy resource manager." Singh's new book, Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West (Stanford Univ. Pr.) was just published.

Professor Ayubi awarded New Directions in Humanities Scholarship

Assistant Professor of Religion Zahra Ayubi has just been awarded a New Directions in Humanities Scholarship, a new program of the Office of the Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities with funding from the Office of the President that encourages faculty in the arts and humanities to pursue projects outside their primary fields of expertise. Professor Ayubi will be studying contemporary gender ethics in Muslim communities and how ontological understandings of women's bodies affect medical decision-making in a traditionally male-oriented religious context. “Bioethics is not my field," she says, "yet I find that the precarious situation of patients in tough medical circumstances that require consideration of religion and bioethics is telling of deep underlying philosophical ideas—in Muslim traditions specifically—about the nature of women’s humanity.” Read more about the grant in Dartmouth News.

Passover Traditions

In her letter to the editor in the April 1, 2018 New York Times, Professor Susannah Heschel comments on Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's recent article about "the changes in women's roles in our religions and his awarenes that the issue is not merely equality of women, but also radical transformations of our religious practices and theological understandings." She also clarifies the custom she originated - out of solidarity with gay and lesbian Jews (not out of support for women in the pulpit, as Kristof suggests) - of placing an orange on the Seder plate. "Women are on the bimah," she observes, but "there is much more we still need to accomplish."

"Unfortunate Destiny: Animals in the Indian Buddhist Imagination"

Professor Reiko Ohnuma‘s Unfortunate Destiny: Animals in the Indian Buddhist Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2017) is "a masterful treatment of animals in Indian Buddhist literature," comments Natasha Heller, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, in her podcast interview with Professor Ohuma in New Books Network. "Although they are lower than humans in the paths of rebirth, stories about animals show them as virtuous and generous—and often the victim of human failings. In the life stories of the Buddha, animals serve as 'doubles,' thereby adding nuance and complexity to various episodes in the Buddha’s life.

Vaughn Booker joins Religion faculty

Among the 35 new teacher-scholars who joined the Dartmouth faculty in 2017-2018 is Assistant Professor of Religion and of African and African American Studies Vaughn Booker '07 (Religion), who went on to receive his M. Div. from Harvard and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton. In an article in Dartmouth News, Booker comments, "I am a scholar of religion, and my research focuses on African American religious history, primarily in the 20th-century United States. My current research project examines jazz musicians whose expressions of religious belief and representations of racial identity will greatly enhance our understandings of African American religious practices. Future projects will explore cultural practices of religious irreverence and interracial conversion efforts in African American life." This Winter Term (2018), he taught Rel. 61, "Religion and the Civil Rights Movement" (identical to AAAS 22), and next Fall Term he will be teaching Rel.

New visiting professor: Kijan Bloomfield

Kijan Bloomfield is a doctoral candidate in the Religion, Ethics, and Politics subfield at Princeton. Her reearch areas include African American religious thought, religion in the African Diaspora, global pentecostalism, and Caribbean philosophy. Her Ph.D. dissertion is an interdisciplinary project that explores the role of religious ethics in the history of social change in Jamaica from the late 19th century to the present. She is here at Dartmouth this Spring Term to teach Religion 19.25, Religions of the Caribbean (taught at the 11 hour), and Religion 19.26, Global Pentecostalism (10A). Both courses are open to all students. (Course syllabi may be viewed here.)

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