September 19, 2014

Prof. Martin Jacobs’ New Book Published

Reorienting the East: Jewish Travelers to the Medieval Muslim World

Check out University of Pennsylvania Press’ Fall 2014 Author Q&As with Martin Jacobs, whose book, Reorienting the East: Jewish Travelers to the Medieval Muslim World, explores the Islamic world as it was encountered, envisioned, and elaborated by Jewish travelers from the Middle Ages to the early modern period. The first comprehensive investigation of Jewish travel writing from this era, this study engages with questions raised by postcolonial studies and contributes to the debate over the nature and history of Orientalism as defined by Edward Said.

April 22, 2014

On Well-being

Richard Davidson interviewed for the Washington University Magazine

Groundbreaking neuroscientist Richard Davidson visited campus for two days of lectures, discussing the emotional life of the brain and how well-being can be learned. The article includes a video discussion with Prof. Beata Grant, Director of Religious Studies, about the ongoing conversation among Western scientists, contemplative/Buddhist scholars and practitioners regarding the fundamental nature of reality — and their work to help relieve suffering.

About Religious Studies

Few will contest the fact that, despite predictions to the contrary, religion continues to play a central role in contemporary culture, politics, identity, and conflict in every part of the globe. At the same time, the fast-moving forces of globalization, migration, and technology continue to bring diverse religious communities in closer proximity, often creating new religious communities in the process. As a result, it has become ever more essential for people living in today’s world to be “religiously literate.”


The Religious Studies Program at Washington University is designed to provide students with the opportunity to not only acquire basic knowledge of the beliefs and practices of the major world religions, but also learn how to engage in a critical appraisal of both their historic and their contemporary significance. Many of the courses offered through our program are taught by faculty in different disciplines and areas, including History, English Literature, Classics, Anthropology, American Religion and Politics, and East Asian Studies. They explore religion and religious traditions in all their interdisciplinary complexity—often comparatively, sometimes thematically, and almost always in specific historical and cultural contexts. In addition to our courses, every year the Program hosts events designed to foster intellectual community, including public lectures on such topics as Religion and Science and Early Christianity as well as more informal gatherings of people interested in the study of religion. ....More

Upcoming Events

October 27, 2014 - 4:00pm

Book Launch

Reorienting the East by Martin Jacobs
Busch Hall, room 18

The Department of Jewish, Islamic & Near Eastern Languages & Cultures is hosting a book launch for Martin Jacob's new book, Reorienting the East: Jewish Travelers to the Medieval Muslim World.

October 28, 2014 - 5:45pm

Composing a Life: Women Inspiring Women

Holmes Lounge, Ridgley Hall

Women undergraduate and graduate students will have the opportunity to hear how five diverse women have defined success in their lives.  Listen to the stories behind how each panelist has combined career, personal life and other interests beyond graduation. Organized by the Women’s Society of Washington University.

November 4, 2014 - 5:00pm

2014 Holocaust Memorial Lecture

"Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War & the Holocaust" by David Shneer
Wilson Hall, Room 214

David Shneer  is the Louis P. Singer Endowed Chair of Jewish History, Director of the Program in Jewish Studies, and Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The 2014 Holocaust Memorial Lecture is offered by the Washington University in St. Louis Assembly Series.