Religion Department

Religion in the Kitchen

Elizabeth Pérez' new book, Religion in the Kitchen: Cooking, Talking, and the Making of Black Atlantic Traditions, will be published by New York University Press in January, 2016. In the book, which will be the subject of a roundtable discussion at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Prof. Pérez takes an intersectional approach to micropractices of cooking and talking in the intimate space of one, predominantly African-American community's kitchen, arguing that they season practitioners into gendered and racialized forms of subjectivity.

Afro-Cuban Dance Workshop!

Professor Elizabeth Pérez has arranged an Afro-Cuban dance workshop for her Religion 17 (African Religions of the Americas) and Religion 52 (Religion and Music in Cuba) courses. On Thursday, November 12, between 12 and 2pm, in the Hop Garage Studio Space, dance master Reynaldo González Fernández and drummer Stuart Paton will offer a master class on dances for the spirits of several different Afro-Cuban traditions, including West African-derived Lucumí/Santería and Central African-inspired Palo Monte. Reynaldo González Fernández has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (ález-fernández,-afro-cuban-singer-and-dancer.aspx) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (, among other key cultural institutions. Join us!

Randall Balmer on Comprehending History, Culture, Through Religion

In an interview for Dartmouth Now, Professor Randall Balmer, recently named the John Phillips Professor in Religion (the oldest endowed professorship at Dartmouth), asserts that "I don't believe that you can understand American history and culture without understanding the role of religion, and that has informed my intellectual agenda. And religion in America has been profoundly shaped by the cultural and historical context of the United States, so that interests me as well."

Randall Balmer on Pope Francis

"The visit of Pope Francis to Capitol Hill this week promises to be good theater. It also will lay bare some of the polarities of the political system in the United States. In the context of American politics, which views everything and everyone in relentlessly dualistic terms – conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat – Francis gives both sides something to cheer. Conservatives applaud his condemnation of abortion. Liberals embrace his warnings about climate change, his attention to economic inequality and his advocacy for the poor, including immigrants." observes Religion Professor Randall Balmer in his analysis of the role of Roman Catholic popes in United States history in the September 23 issue of The Conversation.


The value of a liberal arts education

"I think the academic study of religion is a portal to the liberal arts." "Our [religion] students come out particularly well-schooled in their writing skills...their oral communication skills, and in their critical thinking skills." "Above all, [the study of religion] provides insight into what it means to be human." These observations, and more, by Religion Department faculty are part of a new film produced by the Department featuring Religion majors as well as faculty discussing the value of studying religion at Dartmouth.


New Religion Department Faculty

This fall, the Religion Department will be welcoming two new faculty members, Zahra Ayubi and Devin Singh.

Zahra Ayubi, who comes to us from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and who will be teaching Religion 8 (Introduction to Islam) and Religion 26 (Islam in America) in Fall Term, has focussed her research on women and gender in prescriptive discourses and ethical thought in both pre-modern and modern Islam. Her scholarship is a feminist engagement with the Islamic intellectual tradition that seeks to advance understandings of the ways that gender is constructed in Islamic philosophy and operates in historical and contemporary transnational Muslim communities. At Dartmouth, she also teaches courses in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.

Professor Susannah Heschel on the Massacre in Charleston

 “When are we going to have reparation—for slavery, for Jim Crow, for the new Jim Crow? Unless you give back, there is no repentance for you,” says Susannah Heschel, Professor of Religion and Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, in a recent panel discussion on MSNBC.

Professor Randall Balmer on presidential candidate Mike Huckabee

Dartmouth Now reports that in a Los Angeles Tmes opinion piece, Professor Randall Balmer says that Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is employing rhetoric that casts members of the religious right as victims of intolerance who are scorned for what they believe, and could even be jailed for it. Balmer writes, "Whereas a candidate such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky worries about personal liberties, Huckabee warns about religious persecution. 'I came to New Hampshire to announce that I will fight for your right to be left alone,' Paul declared at the beginning of his campaign." Professor Balmer will be teaching a class in "Religion, Politics, and the Presidency" (REL 62) in the Fall 2015 Term.

If Students Are Smart, They'll Major in What They Love

"If students are smart, they'll major in what they love," writes Dartmouth History professor and Dean of Faculty for Premajor Advising Cecilia Gaposchkin in the May 21, 2015, issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. "Company representatives who recruit at [Dartmouth] consistently say they don't really care about someone's major. What they want are basic but difficult-to-acquire skills. When they ask students about their majors, it's usually not because they want to assess the applicants' mastery of the content, but rather because they want to know if the students can talk about what they learned. They care about a potential employee's abilities: writing, researching, quantitative, and analytical skills" and that "by allowing [students] to study what they are sincerely interested in, we allow them to become smarter, more creative, and more able. This is what potential employers value...."

Dartmouth's Geneva Bibles

Abby Thornburg '15, who is working on an independent study project with Religion Professor Susan Ackerman this term, has mounted a small exhibit in Rauner Library focused on her research topic, Dartmouth's Geneva Bibles. You can see a photo, and read Abby's blog post here -- -- and we'd also advise a stop by Rauner to see the exhibit as well: Abby's done a great job in putting it together! It's on the ground floor, just inside the entrance and to the right. Enjoy!