Spring 2018 Events

Wednesday, January 31st, 4 – 5pm in Sparks 133: Roundtable on Social Science approaches to the Study of Religion.

Gary Adler, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Wendell Schwab, Senior Undergraduate Studies Adviser
Cathy Wanner, Professor of History, Anthropology and Religious Studies, Barry Director of the Paterno Fellows Program

Wednesday, February 21st, 4 – 5pm in Borland 121:  “Exploring the Resources of the The Association of Religion Data Archives (theARDA.com)”

Roger Finke, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and International Affairs, Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives

Respondent, Scott Bennett, Associate Dean for Research, Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science

Quick Facts on theARDA.com

Monday, March 26th, time and location TBA. Harshbarger Lecture in Religious Studies. “Science and religion in public life: from evolution to climate change.”

Elaine Ecklund, Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology, Rice University

Tuesday, April 3rd, 5 – 6pm in Alumni Lounge, Nittany Lion Inn: “Qayrawā­n in the making of the new Jewish ‘Bookshelf’”

Menahem Ben-Sasson, Chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Professor of the History of the Jewish People

Welcome to Fall, 2017

September 12, 4:30 p.m.: Harshbarger Lecturer in Religious Studies : Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College: “Orientalism in a different key” Foster Auditorium

October 10, 3 p.m.: Michael Swartz, Ohio State University: “Divination and its Discontents.” 102 Weaver Building. Respondent: Gonzalo Rubio

November 8, 3 p.m.: Daniel Falk, Penn State University: “Definitional borders of prayer.” 102 Weaver Building. Respondent: Charlotte Eubanks.

Spring 2017 Events

The co-convenors of the Society for the Study of Religion, Daniel Falk and Jonathan Brockopp, are holding a series of conversations to gather ideas about the study of religion in the Academy as a whole, and to begin imaging what a robust program at Penn State might look like. We hope you will consider attending.

Friday, March 17 3:30-4:30 p.m. 121 Borland round table discussion with Penn State colleagues

Tuesday, April 4 10-11 a.m., 121 Borland with Jon Butler (Yale)

For more information, see details on our “events” page.

Fall 2016 seminars are set

We are pleased to announce our fall line-up of faculty seminars as we begin our first year as an officially sponsored Institute for the Arts and Humanities Interdisciplinary Colloquium.


Wednesday, September 28, from 12:30 to 1:30 in Weaver 102

Erica Brindley, Professor of Asian Studies and History and Director of Graduate Studies, Asian Studies

“An Ancient Chinese Genesis Story From A Recently Uncovered Manuscript”



Wednesday,  October 19, from 3:30-4:30 in Burrowes 463

Marica S. Tacconi, Professor of Musicology and Associate Director, School of Music
“‘Entering’ the Sacred Page: The Medici and the Service Books of the Florentine Cathedral.”



Wednesday,  November 9, from 3:30-4:30 in Burrowes 463

Charlotte Eubanks, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Japanese & Asian Studies and Director of Graduate Studies, Comparative Literature

“Playing Dice for Paradise: The Print Culture of Buddhist Board Games.”

Christian Brady, on Ruth and Boaz in the Targum

Christian Brady, Dean of Schreyer Honors College; Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, and Jewish Studies, will present a paper entitled

“The Transformation of Ruth and Boaz in Targum Ruth”

on Tuesday, Dec 9, at 3:45 pm in 130 Moore

Coffee and cookies will be served!

Targum is a unique genre, offering a verbatim Aramaic rendering of the Hebrew biblical text, while weaving into it additional details and context that transforms the text often in significant ways. This paper will consider how the Targum of Ruth transformed the figures of Ruth and Boaz into paragons of rabbinic excellence.



Michael Legaspi: The Problem with Knowledge


Michael Legaspi, Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, and Jewish Studies, will be presenting a paper entitled

“The Problem with Knowledge: Perspectives from Classical and Biblical Traditions”

on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 3:30 pm in 102 Weaver. Coffee and cookies will be served!

Modern attitudes toward knowledge have been shaped in crucial ways by the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. We tend to view knowledge as indispensable, the pursuit of knowledge as something natural and noble. Yet many foundational texts in Western culture present knowledge as a dangerous and problematic attainment. They prompt us to consider its limits and ambiguities and to ask whether certain forms of knowledge may actually be obstacles to human flourishing, hindrances in the pursuit of another ancient ideal: wisdom.