Professor Cutsinger's recent publishing projects include Splendor of the True: A Frithjof Schuon Reader, currently in press with SUNY, and a new translation of Schuon’s Esoterism as Principle and as Way, to be published by World Wisdom. In the fall of 2011, he delivered the Frederick Sheffer Memorial Lecture at Colorado College on "Patterns of the Glory: Christophanic Reflections on The Saint John’s Bible", and in the spring of 2012 he presented a teaching workshop to fellow USC faculty on "The Socratic Method and Critical Thinking". Audio and PowerPoint for these presentations are available on his website (under "Scholarship"). Professor Cutsinger also served as the University’s keynote speaker for two book-end occasions: USC’s opening convocation in August, when the newest students were welcomed to campus, and its doctoral hooding ceremony in May. These talks—"Advice for the Masses" and "Hoodless Hoodings"—can be found on his weblog, Anamnesis.
On the teaching front, Cutsinger was honored in the spring of 2011 as USC’s Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor of the year, and in the spring of 2012 he was named a Governor’s Distinguished Professor for the state of South Carolina. His recent seminars in the University’s Honors College have included a course on the Oxford Inklings (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion; C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces; and Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion); "Scripture East and West" (The Book of Job, the Tao Teh Ching, selections from the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Gospel of John); "Perspectives on Consciousness" (including a variety of contemporary sources: scientific, philosophical, and religious); and "Yogis, Mystics, Monks, and Zen Masters" (with readings from Patanjali, Rumi, Gregory Palamas, and Dogen, among others). Cutsinger also taught two recent Maymester courses on "Mysteries of the Christian East", each of which included travel to an Athonite monastery in Arizona.
For detailed information concerning Professor Cutsinger's work, including PDF copies of many of his articles and audio and video files of his lectures, please consult his personal website, www.cutsinger.net.
Elon Goldstein joined the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies in August 2012. An exciting new scholar in the area of Buddhist Studies, his dissertation is titled: "Contesting Religious Ethics through Literature: Buddhist Ideals in Harsha's Joy of the Serpent-People." In addition to teaching courses in Buddhist theory, practice, theology, philosophy, and literature, Goldstein will also offer courses in a wide range of interesting topics such as: "Buddhist Responses to the Modern World," "The Complications of Buddhist Perfection," and "Sex, Secrecy, and Power: The Colorful Worlds of Buddhist Tantra."
Lewis was interviewed by Jack Kuenzie with WIS-TV news on his new book, Lonesome: The Spiritual Meanings of American Solitude (I.B. Tauris, UK to be distributed in the US by Palgrave Macmillan).
The University of Chicago Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion is featuring Kevin's book on its Religion & Culture Web Forum with invited responses by Robert J. Higgs (East Tennessee State), Walter Jost (University of Virginia), and Henry Weinfield (University of Notre Dame). Invited responses are forthcoming from Paul Kane (Vassar College) and Roger Lundin (Wheaton College).
Lewis presented a paper, "Poetic Play and the Sacred after the Linguistic Turn," at the conference, "Tools of the Sacred, Techniques of the Secular: Awakening, Epiphany, Apocalypse, and Doubt in Contemporary English-Language Verse," held in Brussels, Belgium, on May 4th, 2010. He also appeared on a page of the July 2010 issue of Skirt magazine under the title "Kevin Lewis: Family Man": a photo and a quotation answering the question, "I’m a feminist because ...." And he again joined a Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) Screening Committee in New York to choose applicants for Fulbright awards in the UK, on December 9, 2010.
Lewis also was invited to participate, along with selected graduate directors from other institutions, in a workshop on "Assessing Teaching and Learning in Terminal M.A. Programs in Religious Studies" in September 2010. The workshop was sponsored by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion at Missouri State University.
The New York Times Book Review published a letter from Professor Lewis responding to Ross Douthat’s review of Karen Armstrong’s book "The Case for God" in the NYT Book Review (Oct. 4, 2009). Dr. Lewis' letter was published along with one from Harvey Cox (Harvard). See the letters here
Dr.Mitchem accomplished two significant achievements in a single year in 2008. She was promoted to full professor and a few months later was made the Director of the African American Studies Program at USC. In 2009 she was also made Chair of Religious Studies, her home department. She is excited by the many challenges of her dual positions and has been energetically tackling them.
Dr. Mitchem has created and taught a number of courses for Religious Studies and African American Studies, including a Proseminar in Religion & Healing which deals with ways in which healing provides a thematic way to apprehend anthropological concepts around body, identity, gender, culture, illness, health, and ritual. In 2006 Mitchem made a summer trip to Brazil to work on her research interests in the area of Women, Religion and Justice. You can see her photo-journal of the trip.
Her most recent publications include: Faith, Health, and Healing Among African Americans, co-edited with Emilie M. Townes (Praeger 2008), and
African American Folk Healing (New York University Press) and Name It and Claim It? Prosperity Preaching and the Black Church (Cleveland:
Pilgrim Press) in 2007.
Erin Roberts was interviewed by WOLO TV news on the Roman and Early Christian history of Valentine's Day.
Dr. Roberts is a welcome addition to the department with research and teaching interests in the area of early Christianity and classic studies with an emphasis on philosophies of the period.
Roberts comes to us from Brown University. Her current research focuses on the ways that ancient writers interested in Judean traditions (including the apostle Paul, Philo of Alexandria, and the authors of gospels about Jesus) participated in the discourse of Greek and Roman moral philosophy. In her dissertation, she investigates how Hellenistic ideas about moral psychology and emotion may help account for the distinctive ethical teachings in the gospel of Matthew. Additionally, she is interested in the ways that theological agenda continue to shape the modern study of Christian origins and is involved in projects aimed at naturalizing the study of religion
Dr. Vehlow received one of the limited Arts and Humanities Grants from the Office of
the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost in 2010. Her proposal was to continue and extend her research on the "Universal History of Abraham Ibn Daud, twelfth-century Jewish philosopher." This project is the first critical edition and translation of this influential text and enables non-specialists to access an important piece of Iberian literature. Vehlow spent eight months in Israel and Europe doing research with centuries-old texts.
In 2009, Vehlow spent the summer in Jerusalem where she gave a paper at the World Congress of Jewish Studies. She will also speak at the Association of Jewish Studies Conference in December on "Teaching Jewish Studies in the Deep South." Next summer, she will speak at the meeting of the European Association of Jewish Studies in Ravenna, Italy.
She recently published an article on rabbinic traditions on the Septuagint and is in the process of completing two articles on medieval Jewish historiography. Dr. Vehlow plans to complete her first book, an edition of the historical writings of Abraham Ibn Daud by the end of next summer. She continues to teach introductory courses in religious studies and will teach a course on the Hebrew Bible in spring that includes a look at rabbinic and patristic exegesis.
Other News & updates
Carl Evans retired as a teaching faculty member in May of 2009 after thirty-five years with the Department of Religious Studies and twelve years as Chair of the Department.
Carl organized the Interfaith Partners of South Carolina in 2011 to bring together the various interfaith organizations in South Carolina for mutual coordination and cooperation. The Department of Religious Studies has entered into agreement with the IPSC for collaborative events.
Evans continues his academic writing. He is working on a book titled Encountering the Other: A Social History on Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Ancient Judah. The study charts the changing demographics in Judah during the late monarchic, exilic, and post-exilic periods and examines how various groups responded to the challenges of ethnic and religious diversity. He has been invited to contribute an article on "The Diaspora Idea in Biblical Writings" for the Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora. And he is preparing a volume of personal reflections on coping with illness, death, and grief called The Shadow of Death: A Memoir.
Carl is vice chair of the South Carolina Commission on the Holocaust and is on the boards of the Ecumenical Institute of the Southeast and the South Carolina Christian Action Council.
Hal's book, Zen and the Art of Anything, came out in a third edition in 2009 by Praxis International, after earlier editions in 1999 and 2001. These may be ordered online or the first edition (the "classic" one!) may be ordered by contacting Hal directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for $10 (including shipping and handling).
Hal has been involved in a number of service projects, some with student groups, and one solo one following the tsunami, working there for a week in southern India, and taking over $3500 from our local interfaith group to help build an orphanage for tsunami victims. He’s also served on the Dobson Volunteer Service Committee for ten years, helping to facilitate students to become engaged in service projects.
He’s scheduled to offer his fourth Maymester course since 2006 in 2011, returning to Greece with Honors students. Other courses have been in Turkey and England. In 2010 he became Chair of the U.S. Chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom, the world’s oldest interfaith organization, founded in 1900.
French continues to be involved in interfaith work, with his most recent engagement at the World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne, Australia in December of 2009, presenting a paper, "Ears Wide Open: the Art of Inloquence." He gave a plenary address at the annual meeting of the International Association for Religious Freedom in Clearwater, Florida in January of 2010 on the topic, "Reconciliation with Each Other, The Earth and the Stranger." In July of 2008 be taught a workshop, "Zen and the Art of Anything," to fifty American College students in a program on Humanistic Buddhism at a Buddhist center, Fo Guang Shan, in Taiwan. .
Donald Jones retired in the spring of 2008 after over 40 years of service to the department and the University.
He continues to teach some of his hallmark courses in Christian studies through the Evening School and Honors College. Fall of 2010 Dr. Jones will be teaching "Quest of the Historical Jesus" and "Life and Letters of Paul".