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Several times a year, I listen to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech,[1] given on August 28, 1963, as the culmination of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Approximately 250,000 people heard it at the National Mall—the largest audience for a Washington rally up to that time. Others heard it, or parts of it, on the evening news. (You can listen to here, or read it here.) In this speech, King speaks about how America has failed to live up to its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit… read more about I have a dream: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Biblical Prophetic Speech »

A new program for Duke sophomores – which launches in Spring 2022 – will include a Religious Studies course focused on happiness, success and our beliefs. “The Good Life: Religion, Philosophy, and Life’s Ultimate Concerns” (RELIGION 210) is part of the new “Transformative Ideas” program that is designed to promote open and civil cross-disciplinary dialogue on questions and big ideas that change lives, link cultures and shape societies around the world. “The Good Life” – taught by instructors from Religious Studies, Duke… read more about Religious Studies Course Among New "Transformative Ideas" Offerings »

Elizabeth A. Clark, 82, the John Carlisle Kilgo Professor Emerita of Religion and Professor of History at Duke University, passed away Sept 7, at Duke Hospital.  Liz was an eminent scholar of Late Antiquity and early Christian history. Her work has been crucial to transforming the field formerly known as “patristics” — the study of the church fathers — into “early Christian studies,” an approach that applies cultural, social and feminist theory to the study of early Christianity. Her scholarship and service to the academy… read more about Duke Flags Lowered: Elizabeth Clark, Taught Religion at Duke for Four Decades, Dies at Age 82 »

If you don’t think a laboratory is the ideal place to explore complex themes and methodologies like valuing care, ethnography, urbanism or games and culture, you may need to expand your definition beyond beakers and microscopes. Labs are hives of communication, cooperation and active collaboration. They are driven by a commitment to curiosity and exploration that often produces unanticipated paths and solutions. And utilizing those features for research in the humanities – a scholarly area that has traditionally focused on… read more about Innovative, Interdisciplinary Labs Reshape Humanities Research and Teaching »

Four visiting humanities scholars from historically Black colleges and universities and liberal-arts institutions arrived at Duke this August to collaborate with Duke students, faculty and staff. Their projects will cover commemoration practices, early Christian manuscripts, a 17th century Mexican philosopher and the ephemeral nature of digital projects. The fellows are part of Humanities Unbounded, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded initiative designed to nurture collaboration and inventive expressions of the… read more about Duke Welcomes New Cohort of Visiting Humanities Scholars from HBCUs and Liberal-Arts Schools »

When he was an undergraduate political science student, Kerry Haynie was never taught about the 1921 Tulsa massacre. Nor was there much discussion about the role of race in the founding political documents of this country or much examination of how race influenced public services such as sewer lines and zoning. In one sense, a lot has changed. In 2021, Duke’s faculty includes a strong lineup of leading scholars who examine how race is embedded in issues that cross all the schools of the university. This fall, many of… read more about University Course Raises Race as a Central Element of Undergraduate Education »

Stunning An address in honor of the Religious Studies Majors 2021 Jennifer Knust Late last summer, a little hermit thrush hit the kitchen window of our family’s cabin in Maine and, stunned, fell to the forest floor. I wasn’t there. I was here in Durham, hoping I could figure out how to teach in the middle of a pandemic, in the face of a national and global disaster where so much had been exposed and so much misery and injustice made transparently… read more about Stunning: Prof. Jennifer Knust Addresses Religious Studies Commencement Ceremony »

Duke honored the altruism of Duke staff member Anika Lucas and students John Amodeo and Tatayana Richardson on Friday with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.  The award recognizes one graduating senior and members of the faculty, staff or graduate student body from Duke University or Duke University Health System for outstanding commitment to service.  Provost Sally Kornbluth and Leslie Parkins, assistant vice president and director for civic engagement, honored the recipients during a virtual ceremony on Friday. Parkins… read more about 2021 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Honors Generous Spirits »

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of first-person essays by members of the Duke community reflecting on a year living with COVID-19. “Interrupting angels.” Who knew such things were ever imagined? In my teaching and research in the area of Jewish magic and mysticism, I’ve become acquainted with all sorts of angels. Angels of wrath and of mercy. Angels of esoteric knowledge and crafty deceit. Angels for each nation, and angels for every mood. The angel of rain, of the sea, and of destiny. I think of such… read more about Professor, Interrupted »

Duke senior Tatayana Richardson will deliver a sermon on God helping people find peace in turbulent times as part of Duke Chapel’s online worship service at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 21. Richardson, a double major in religion and African American studies, has been selected to be this year’s Duke Chapel student preacher. She will work with chapel ministers and Divinity School faculty members to refine the sermon she submitted. “As someone thinking about ordination, preaching a sermon has always been something that I have… read more about Senior’s Duke Chapel Sermon March 21 to Seek God Amid Suffering »

When Elizabeth Schrader signed up for a free short-course in the summer of 2019, the doctoral candidate in religion had no idea it would have an immediate impact on her scholarship. Two years earlier, Schrader published an article arguing that early Christian copyists may have altered the Gospel of John to minimize the role of Mary Magdalene. This was an important finding, but it wasn’t getting the attention in scholarly circles that she’d hoped for. “Although my work had appeared in a prestigious journal (the Harvard… read more about What I Got Out of the Duke Graduate Academy »

      By Anisha Reddy March 1, 2021 | 3:15am EST   Joseph Winters, Alexander F. Hehmeyer associate professor of religious studies and African and African American studies, is the author of “Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy, and the Agony of Progress”. In the book, Winters explores the Black literary and aesthetic tradition of exploring loss and anguish to challenge beliefs of America’s sustained racial progress.  The Chronicle spoke to Winters about problematic conceptions of American… read more about Q&A: Prof. Joseph Winters discusses balance between hope and melancholy in Black literature »

This month, we present a collection of 10 Duke-authored books detailing the history of Black life in America. While this is not a comprehensive list of all Duke scholarship on Black history, it is intended to be an introduction to the multifaceted work of Duke scholars in public policy, history, documentary studies, religious studies, African and African-American studies, cultural anthropology, sociology, art, art history, and visual studies.  These books, along with many others, are available at Duke University Libraries,… read more about 10 Duke-Authored Books on Black History »

Though fascinated with the land of their tradition’s birth, virtually no Japanese Buddhists visited the Indian subcontinent before the nineteenth century. In the richly illustrated Seeking Śākyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism (U Chicago Press, 2019), Richard M. Jaffe reveals the experiences of the first Japanese Buddhists who traveled to South Asia in search of Buddhist knowledge beginning in 1873. Analyzing the impact of these voyages on Japanese conceptions of Buddhism, he argues… read more about Seeking Sakyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism »

As part of its event series tgiFHI, the Franklin Humanities Institute is conducting interviews with its faculty speakers in order to familiarize broader audiences with the diversity of research approaches in the humanities, arts, and interpretive social sciences at Duke University. Dr. Laura Lieber is Professor of Religious Studies, Classical Studies, German Studies, and Divinity, and director of the Duke Center for Jewish Studies. In this edited and condensed interview, she describes why she's interested in the texts… read more about Meet Your Humanities Faculty: Laura Lieber »

By Tatayana Richardson January 25, 2021 | 12:00am EST         Welcome, folks, to the Biden Administration.  That's right: we are just shy of a week into the administration, and Biden has begun furiously working to correct course for the disarray that has been the past four years. And as the nation begins to move past the insurrection of January 6, 2021, it has brought with it several phrases… “This not what America is about” “The American dream has been shattered” “The nation is reeling” “How did this… read more about How do we get it right? »

Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of the 117th Congress, Four years ago, after the election results were announced, I wrote two biblical quotations in Hebrew on my office door, so that I would see them daily, be reminded of their truth, and be spurred to action. The first was from Deuteronomy 16:20, which should be translated as: “After justice, after justice, must you chase (tzedek tzedek tirdof).” Most English translations miss how emphatic this command is. It repeats “justice” twice—as… read more about Value & Voice: Letter 4 »

Marc Z. Brettler, the Bernice and Morton Lerner Distinguished Professor in Judaic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, co-authored a response to a New York Times op-ed about the "forgotten radicalism of Jesus Christ." Brettler and his colleagues argue that, in fact, Jesus' "social justice interests come right out of Judaism." Read their article at the Daily Beast. read more about What the New York Times Gets Wrong About Jesus »

“This calligraphic piece, Heaven’s Roof, juxtaposes two meditations, from two religious traditions and in two different languages, both on the wonders of creation and the God who, like an architect, designed and created our cosmic home. The inspiration for this piece came to me recently when I took a workshop in runes, an ancient writing system used in Germanic languages such as Old Norse and Old English. I thought back to a poem I studied in college, ‘Caedmon’s Hymn,’ a beautiful hymn from the earliest Christian… read more about Jonathan Homrighausen ’23: Heaven’s Roof »