February 21, 2017

Spring 17 Religious Studies Newsletter Published

The latest edition of the Religious Studies' newsletter is now available. Download the latest issue here.

From the Newsletter: A Word from the Director

The study of religion has never been as critical as it is today. With religious intolerance on the rise here and around the world, our goal is to equip students to think critically and deeply about the traditions, practices, and tensions that have shaped the world in which we live. At the same time, the Program in Religious Studies seeks to champion the commitments to diversity, support, and inclusion that Washington University embodies.

Those values are increasingly important in a society divided by fear and, sometimes, by a lack of information about the great variety of religious traditions that make up our world and our local community. Through courses, film screenings, and guest lectures, we invite you to join us this semester as we offer a range of perspectives and voices. The program in Religious Studies is a gathering place as we wrestle with some of the most intransigent problems of contemporary life. We also hope to support our students from different faith backgrounds in the challenges that they may face in a divisive political climate. By better understanding both long term challenges and recent developments, we aim to foster discussion, debate, and dialogue. Join us!

Laurie Maffly-Kipp
Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor and Director

January 30, 2017

Prof. Lerone Martin’s book honored by American Society of Church History

Prof. Lerone Martin has been awarded the prestigious Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History (ASCH) for his book Preaching on Wax: The Phonograph and the Shaping of Modern African American Religion (New York University Press, 2014). The prize honors outstanding scholarship in religious history by a first-time author.

Congratulations Prof. Lerone Martin!

December 1, 2016

Religious film series spotlights covert religious themes in films

From Student Life

The Religious Studies program created the film series this semester as a way to build community, both within the program and beyond. The series also offers students a chance to apply the skills they learn in Religious Studies courses to films in popular culture, whose themes aren’t always obviously religious. ...Read the article here

About Religious Studies

…if I headed back to college today, I would major in comparative religions rather than political science." - John Kerry, “Religion and Diplomacy


Religion is a major source of inspiration, meaning, and controversy in human societies. Fast-moving forces of globalization, migration, and technology continue to bring diverse communities into closer proximity, often creating new religious communities in the process. The Religious Studies Program at Washington University gives students the opportunity to learn about diverse religions as well as to study past and current events with a critical but open mind.

One does not have to be religious in order to study religion! Religious Studies covers subjects as diverse as U.S. politics, Beyoncé, the Middle East, atheism, Tolstoy, Gandhi, Black Lives Matter, climate change, and Buddhist philosophies. The diversity of topics that can be covered in Religious Studies is huge and must be studied in all their interdisciplinary complexity. As such, courses offered by our program are taught by faculty in a variety of disciplines and areas, including: The Danforth Center on Religion and Politics; Anthropology; Classics; East Asian Languages and Cultures; English; History; Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies; and Political Science.

A major in Religious Studies will help you understand and appreciate the complex ways in which religious traditions inform human thought and behavior. A double major or a minor will also enhance a broad range of studies from politics and law to business and medicine. So whether you are interested in preparing for the advanced academic study of religion, seeking to complement another area of study, or simply feel the need to acquire a greater knowledge of religions, a major or minor in Religious Studies is excellent preparation for living and working in a pluralistic society and global culture.

Upcoming Events

February 24, 2017 - 4:00pm

The Changing Status of the Tamil Parai Drum: From Untouchable to Dalit

Dr. Zoe Sherinian
Music Classroom Building, room 102

Dr. Zoe Sherinian is an Associate Professor and Chair of Ethnomusicology at the University of Oklahoma. Her research focus has been Christian indigenization and the production of liberation theology in India through Tamil folk music with secondary emphases in gender studies, and world percussion. Sherinian's book manuscript, entitled Songs of Dalit Transformation: Tamil Folk Music as Liberation Theology, argues that Dalits (former untouchables) have been able to use Tamil folk music to create an indigenized Christian liberation theology that can respond in liturgical performance to their needs for transformative social change.

Sponsored by the Music Department.

March 1, 2017 - 4:00pm

Francis of Assisi on Eating and Worshipping with Animals

Prof. Susan Crane
Busch Hall, room 100

Susan Crane is the Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literture at Columbia University.

Sponsored by The Romance Languages & Literatures Department; The English Department, The History Department; The Religious Studies Program; & The Medieval Studies Writing Group

March 3, 2017 - 10:00am to 12:00pm

Drop in for Coffee Hour

Busch Hall, room 109

Religious Studies invites you to drop in for coffee. Stop by for a cup of coffee/tea fresh brewed in the office Keurig, grab a snack, and visit with faculty and students.

No RSVPs needed. Please feel free to stop in any time between 10-12 and stay as long (or as short) as your schedule allows.