Matt Hotham

Instructor in Religious Studies
Spence Pavilion-Religion/Phil. 203
2340 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244
mhotham@elon.edu (336) 278-7501

Brief Biography

Matthew Hotham is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Within the broader field of Religious Studies, his research focuses on the study of Islam, with specific interest in Sufism. His current research deals with issues of the body in medieval Persian mystical poetry. Other research interests include Sufism, Persian literature, religion and the body, gender and Islam, asceticism, affect theory and mysticism. He has taught classes on Islam, Asian Religions, and the study of religion, among other topics.

Education

PhD in Religious Studies (Area of Focus: Islamic Studies), UNC-Chapel Hill, Anticipated 2015

  • Dissertation Title: “Seeing God with Both Eyes: The Prophet as Paradigmatic Mystic in the Quintet of Nizami Ganjavi (d. 1209).”
  • Duke-UNC Graduate Certificate in Middle East Studies, September 2012

MTS in Islamic Studies, Harvard Divinity School, 2009

MFA in Creative Writing, Syracuse University, 2007

BA, summa cum laude, Colgate University, 2003 Religion (Double Major: English & Religion)

  • High Honors in Religion
    Thesis: “Polishing the Mirror: Poetry as Process in the Works of Rumi”
  • High Honors in English
    Thesis: "Breaking Bardo" — A Poetry Manuscript

Courses Taught

  • REL 110 - Religion in a Global Context
  • REL 203 - Islamic Traditions
  • REL 272 - Muhammad and the Origins of Islam (Winter Term)

Presentations

Conference Papers

“Soul Birds, Man Mules, and Dead Dogs: Animal Religion, Beastly Hybridity, and the Boundaries of the Human in Nizami Ganjavi’s Makhzan al-Asrar.” Panel: TBD, Animals & Religion Group. American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, November 2014.

“His Minty Breath Was Antidote to Scorpio’s Sting: Bodily Aspects of Muhammad’s Ascension in Nizami’s Makhzan al-Asrar. Panel: “Putting the Prophet to Work: Social, Political, and Religious Dimensions of Literary Depictions of Muhammad,” Study of Islam Section. American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD, November 2013.

“Mi’raj as Sufi Initiation: Bestowal of Garments in the Ascension Narratives of Nizami Ganjavi’s Makhzan al-Asrar, Jami’s Tohfat al-Asrar, and Amir Khosrow’s Matla al-Anwar” Panel: “Characters and Characterization in Middle Eastern Literature,” Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, October 2013.

“The Transparent Author: Intertextuality in Debates Over Asceticism in Sufi Hagiography.” Panel Title: “Discourses of Legitimization and Transformation in Arabic Literature,” Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., December 2011.

“Polishing the Mirror: Poetry as Process in the Works of Jalal al-Din Rumi” Panel: “Comparative Grammars of Ineffability,” Comparative Studies in Religion Section. American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, November 2011.

“Islamic Teacher or Ecstatic Poet: Negotiating the Exclusive Identities of Rumi in America.” 3rd Annual Duke-UNC Graduate Student Conference on Islamic Studies, April 2006.

 

Public Lectures

“Journalmancy: Divining Editorial (Un)Reasoning.” Colgate Writers’ Conference, June 2012.

“‘I Too Desired a Child’: Celibacy, Bodily Discipline, and the Development of Early Sufism – The Case of Ibn Khafif.” Islam in a Global Context Speaker Series, UNC-Chapel Hill, February 17, 2011.

 

Guest Lectures

“Islam & Love,” in RELI 145H, “Mysticism,” UNC-Chapel Hill, March 2014

“Alternative Visions of Heaven and Hell: al-Ghazali, al-Suyuti, and the Qur’an,” in RELI 125, “Heaven and Hell,” UNC-Chapel Hill, November 2013.

“Strategies of Translation: A Poetry Workshop,” in RELI 171, “Rumi, Islamic Mysticism & Popular Culture,” Guilford College, October 2013.

“Translating Rumi,” in RELI 171, “Rumi, Islamic Mysticism & Popular Culture,” Guilford College, September 2013.

“Persian Humanism in Sa?di’s Gulistan,” in RELI 583, “History & Culture of Iran,” UNC-Chapel Hill, September 2013.

“Jalal al-Din Rumi: Poetry, Performance, and Ecstatic Utterances,” in RELI 581, “Sufism,” UNC-Chapel Hill, October 2012.

“‘The Qur’an Cannot Speak’: An Introduction to Islam Through Debates Over Interpretive Authority,” in Rel 110, “Religion in a Global Context,” Elon University, April 2011.

“Cumulative Traditions, Calligraphy and Cartoons: Representations of the Prophet Muhammad in Islam and the West,” in MAX 132 “Global Community,” Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University, April 2007.

“An Introduction to Islam: ‘The Beautiful’ in the Cumulative Islamic Tradition,” in MAX 132 “Global Community,” Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University, November 2006.

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