Read the College of Arts & Sciences' introduction of Professors Jessica Andruss, Michael Allen, and Natasha Heller, the three new faculty members in Religious Studies, along with other new Arts & Sciences faculty members.
The Department of Religious Studies is pleased to welcome Professor Michael Allen to the faculty. He works on the intersections of philosophy and religious practice in South Asia, drawing on both Sanskrit and vernacular sources, with wider interests in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. He explores ways in which South Asian perspectives, taken seriously on their own terms, can inform contemporary understandings of human beings and their place in the world.
Professor Sonam Kachru, who began teaching in the Department last fall, works in the history of philosophy, with special attention to the history of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia. He is currently working on two book length monographs: one on the philosopher Vasubandhu, and his monograph in Twenty Verses; and another on the Buddhist poet Asvaghosa, and his narrative lyric, Beautiful Nanda.
Professor Vanessa Ochs and Team Awarded Grant for Research on "Increasing the Civic and Political Participation of Women"
Professor Vanessa Ochs, along with Professor Denise Walsh of Politics and WGS and four graduate students, was awarded a Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Grant for research on "Increasing the Civic and Political Participation of Women" from USAID and the Institute for International Education. They will be exploring the questions: What are the most effective ways to encourage women’s civic (e.g., volunteer, advocacy, etc.) and political (e.g., voting, running for office) participation? What are the risks to women of these strategies in contexts where resistance to changing gender norms is strong?
The department is pleased to welcome Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of the University of Cambridge for this weekend lecture series.
Related lectures may be found here.
Professors David Germano and Kurtis Schaeffer's online Coursera course, "Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World: Lesser Vehicle," explores "the immense variety of meditation practices past and present. We present their histories, their philosophical underpinnings, their transformations in the modern global world, and we give you a chance to reflect upon meditation practices through secular contemplations designed just for this course." For more on the course, please visit <https://www.coursera.org/learn/buddhist-meditation>.
Read UVA Today's interview with Nichole Flores, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, on "The Social Impact of Pope Francis' Commission on Female Deacons" at https://news.virginia.edu/content/qa-social-impact-pope-francis-commissi....
Prof. Shuve's forthcoming book, The Song of Songs and the Fashioning of Identity in Early Latin Christianity, is available for pre-order here, as well as major online booksellers.
"In this work, Karl Shuve provides a new account of how the Song of Songs became one of the most popular biblical texts in medieval Western Christianity, through a close and detailed study of its interpretation by late antique Latin theologians. It has often been presumed that early Latin writers exercised little influence on the medieval interpretation of the poem, since there are so few extant commentaries from the period. But this is to overlook the hundreds of citations of and allusions to the Song in the writings of influential figures such as Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine as well as the lesser-known theologian Gregory of Elvira. Through a comprehensive analysis of these citations and allusions, Shuve argues that contrary to the expectations of many modern scholars, the Song of Songs was not a problematic text for early Christian theologians, but was a resource that they mined as they debated the nature of the church and of the virtuous life. The first part of the volume considers the use of the Song in the churches of Roman Africa and Spain, where bishops and theologians focused on images of enclosure and purity invoked in the poem. In the second part, the focus is late fourth-century Italy, where a new ascetic interpretation, concerned particularly with women's piety, began to emerge. This erotic poem gradually became embedded in the discursive traditions of Latin Late Antiquity, which were bequeathed to the Christian communities of early medieval Europe."
Prof. Geddes' forthcoming book, Kafka's Ethics of Interpretation, is now available for preorder here, as well as major online book sellers. The book is due for an early April release.
"Kafka's Ethics of Interpretation refutes the oft-repeated claim, made by Kafka's greatest interpreters, including Walter Benjamin and Harold Bloom, that Kafka sought to evade interpretation of his writings. Jennifer L. Geddes shows that this claim about Kafka's deliberate uninterpretability is not only wrong, it also misconstrues a central concern of his work. Kafka was not trying to avoid or prevent interpretation; rather, his works are centrally concerned with it. Geddes explores the interpretation that takes place within, and in response to, Kafka's writings, and pairs Kafka's works with readings of Sigmund Freud, Pierre Bourdieu, Tzvetan Todorov, Emmanuel Levinas, and others. She argues that Kafka explores interpretation as a mode of power and violence, but also as a mode of engagement with the world and others. Kafka, she argues, challenges us to rethink the ways we read texts, engage others, and navigate the world through our interpretations of them."