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Study of Religion

Scholarly Outreach

The Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society seeks to foster research, teaching, and dialogue that informs community knowledge and action.  The following are Elon faculty who explore the intersections of religion, culture, and society in their scholarly research and who are willing to serve as educational resources through speaking engagements and special events.

Dr. Amy Allocco
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Dr. Allocco’s research focuses on contemporary Hindu ritual traditions in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, where she has been studying and conducting fieldwork for more than 15 years.  She specializes in performance and ritual studies and has developed a particular interest in gender and women’s religious roles and practices. 

  • Current writing projects include co-editing with Brian K. Pennington, Ritual Innovation in South Asian Religions and a single-authored manuscript Snake Goddesses and Anthills: Modern Challenges and Women's Ritual Responses in Contemporary South India.  She has also published on conducting ethnographic research, “Cacophony or Coherence: Ethnographic Writing and Competing Claims to Ritual and Textual Authority” in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion (2009).
  • Dr. Allocco is often asked to speak on the religious diversity and variety of religious practices in South Asia, including topics related to Hinduism, Islam, and gender.

Dr. Geoffrey Claussen
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Lori and Eric Sklut Emerging Scholar in Jewish Studies

Dr. Claussen's scholarship focuses on Jewish ethics and theology. He is particularly interested in questions of love and justice, war and violence, animal ethics, and moral education. His current book project focuses on the legacy of the nineteenth-century Musar movement.

  • Claussen's recent publications include, “The American Jewish Revival of Musar” in The Hedgehog Review (2010); “Sharing the Burden: Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv on Love and Empathy” in Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics ; “God and Suffering in Heschel’s Torah Min Ha-Shamayim” in Conservative Judaism (2010).
  • Professor Claussen is the founding director of Elon's program in Jewish Studies.

Dr. Clyde Ellis
Professor of History and University Distinguished Scholar

Dr. Ellis' scholarship examines how American Indian communities maintain their cultural and ethnic indentities through a wide variety of practices, including religious and ceremonial ritual. He has published widely on the history of Christian missions on the Southern Plains, Native hymn traditions, and dance, and is currently conducting fieldwork on Native Christianity in southeast North Carolina, and on the Native American Church in southwest Oklahoma.

  • Ellis' most recent publications include ‘She Gave Us the Jesus Way’: Isabel Crawford, the Kiowas, and the Saddle Mountain Indian Baptist Church,” the introductory essay to a new edition of Isabel Crawford's 1915 memoir, Kiowa: A Woman Missionary in Indian Territory (University of Nebraska Press, 1998); “Reading Between The Lines: A History of the Old and New Testaments in the Absaroki or Crow Indian Language,” in Montana: The Magazine of Western History (2005); and Powwow, edited with Luke Eric Lassiter, and Gary H. Dunham (University of Nebraska Press, 2005)..
  • Dr. Ellis was also one of fifteen scholars from the United States and Europe invited to attend a five-week NEH 2011 Summer Seminar on the ethnohistory of Southeastern Indians sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  His research project for the seminar explored the use of Native language in powwow singing traditions in eastern North Carolina. 

Dr. Evan A. Gatti
Associate Professor of Art History

Dr. Gatti's field of research is in the field of medieval art.  She focuses her writing on the art and culture of medieval bishops and on the relationships between ritual, performance

  • Gatti is on leave for the academic year 2012-2013 to work on a manuscript titled Borders, Bishops, and the Body Politic: Art in Northern Italy around the Year 1000.
  • Dr. Gatti's recent publications include a co-edited Envisioning the Medieval Bishop (Brepols, under review);  “In the Apse or In Between: The Benedictional of Engilmar and Traditions of Episcopal Patronage in the Apse at Pore?,” in Saintly Bishops and Bishops' Saints, John Ott and Trpimir Vedriš, eds (forthcoming); "Medieval Italy - Art," with Sigrid Danielson in Oxford Bibliographies Online; and "In a Space Between: Ivrea and the Problem of (Italian) Ottonian Art" in Peregrinations: A Journal for the International Society for the Study of Pilgrimage Art (2010).

Dr. Anthony Hatcher
Associate Professor of Communications

Dr. Hatcher is a former journalist who teaches a Religion and Media class at Elon University. Hatcher has written about religion news coverage for The Scoop blog at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, and he is a contributor on cultural issues such as gay marriage and atheism to the op-ed pages of area newspapers. His research focuses on the intersection of religion and popular culture, as well as religion and the news media.

  • Hatcher's has written recently on gay marriage, including an op-ed titled "'Evolution' on Homosexuality Can Take Time" which was published by a number of North Carolina papers and he has written about the "culture wars" for Trans/Missions, a blog on media, culture, religion, and society sponsored by the University of Southern California.
  • Dr. Hatcher is the faculty advisor for the Elon campus "Better Together" student organization, a national student campaign promoting interfaith cooperation through service.

Dr. Lynn R. Huber
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Professor Huber's scholarship focuses upon the Book of Revelation, including its artistic representation, and gender and sexuality in early Christianity.  She is interested in how Christian texts challenge Roman valorizations of family and how these might inform contemporary perspectives on the inclusion of LGBTQ individuals in Christian contexts and society in general.

  • Dr. Huber speaks and teaches in church settings about the Bible and homosexuality, advocating for interpreting the texts in ways that are inclusive and liberatory for LGBTQ inidivudals, and has led multi-session studies on interpreting the New Testament and on the Book of Revelation.
  • Huber's most recent publications include a forthcoming book titled Thinking with Women in Revelation:  Gender, Metaphor, and Community(T and T Clark); “Satan,” in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Biblical Studies (Oxford University Press, 2011); “Gazing at the Whore:  Reading Revelation Queerly” in Bible Trouble:  Queer Readings at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship, Teresa Hornsby and Ken Stone, eds. (Society of Biblical Literature, 2011).

Dr. Jasson Husser
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Assistant Director of the Elon Poll

Dr. Husser studies American political behavior with an emphasis on religion’s role in political polarization. He also researches survey methodology. He completed a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2012.

  • Recent publications by Husser include "How Trust Matters: The Changing Political Relevance of Political Trust" with Marc J. Hetherington in American Journal of Political Science (2012); and "Plus Ça Change: Race, Gender, and Issue Retrospections in the 2008 U.S. Election" with Christian R. Grose and Antoine Yoshinaka in Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties (2010).
  • Dr. Husser has presented on “Polarized Churches: The Political Sorting of American Religious Behavior” in a variety of contexts.

Dr. Charles Irons
Associate Professor of History

Dr. Irons' scholarly work reexamines the process through which black Southerners withdrew from white-controlled churches following the American Civil War.  Interested in exploring the range of relationships which black churchgoers sought to form with their white coreligionists, Irons sees a window onto more general questions about conflicting black aspirations in the postwar period.

  • In 2007 Irons was named one of ten Young Scholars in American Religion by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, the premier research institute in the nation working in American religious studies.
  • Irons' most recent publications include a forthcoming essay titled "Zion in Black and White: African American Evangelicals and Missionary Work in the Old South,” in A New History of the Old South: Slavery, Sectionalism and the Nineteenth-Century's Modern World, L. Diane Barnes, Brian Schoen, and Frank Towers, eds. (Oxford University Press); The Origins of Proslavery Christianity: White and Black Evangelicals in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 2008); "Reluctant, Protestant Confederates: The Religious Roots of Conditional Unionism,” in Virginia's Civil War, Bertram Wyatt-Brown and Peter Wallenstein, eds. (University of Virginia Press, 2005).

Dr. Kristina A. Meinking
Assistant Professor of Latin and Classical Studies

Dr. Meinking's research focuses on the worlds of classical and late antiquity, and primarily concerns intersections between religion, politics, and intellectual culture in the third and fourth centuries CE. Her doctoral dissertation examined De ira Dei ('On the Anger of God'), a treatise by the fourth-century Christian intellectual Lactantius. She is also interested in Roman topography and Latin pedagogy.

  • Dr. Meinking is currently revising her manuscript for her first monograph, tentatively titled The Rhetoric of Anger: Lactantius and the Shaping of Christian Intellectual Discourse. She completed her translation of the text (from Latin into English) in the summer of 2012.
  • In addition to numerous conferences and presentations in the fields of both Classics and Religion, Meinking's scholarly activity includes two forthcoming articles: one examines the relationship between De ira Dei and Constantine's actions regarding the Donatists, and the other draws on Lactantius' arguments in the treatise to problematize existing opinions about the relationship of Greek philosophy, particularly Platonism, to early fourth century proto-orthodox Christianity.

Dr. Tom Mould
Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology

Dr. Mould's research interests include oral narrative, prophecy and sacred narrative, identity construction, expressive culture, ethnography, and video enthnography.  His published works cover a range of topics including revelation and prophecy in Mormon oral tradition, Choctaw narrative and  prophecy, contemporary legends of public assistance and policy and North Carolina pottery.

  • Mould's most recent book, Still, The Small Voice: Narrative, Personal Revelation, and the Mormon Folk Tradition (Utah State University Press, 2012), has received  praise from scholars as an important contribution not only to Mormon studies, but to religious studies, folklore, and performance studies more generally.
  • Other publications by Mould include the books Choctaw Tales (University Press of Mississippi, 2004); Choctaw Prophecy (University of Alabama Press, 2003); The Individual and Tradition edited with Ray Cashman and Pravina Shukla (Indiana University Press, 2011) and Latter-day Lore edited with Eric Eliason (Utah University Press, forthcoming); as well as the recent publications “Chahta siyah ókih”: Ethnicity in the Oral Tradition of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians” In Ethnic Heritage in Mississippi, Shana Walton, ed. (University Press of Mississippi, 2010); and "Narratives of Personal Revelation Among Latter-day Saints" in Western Folklore (2008).

Dr. David Neville
Assistant Professor of German

Dr. Neville's scholarship in the field of German cultural studies focuses on representations of the body in the writings of 13th-century nuns and beguines, with particular attention being paid to Mechthild von Magdeburg's poetic mystical treatise, Das fließende Licht der Gottheit ("The Flowing Light of the Godhead"), and the textual dialectics of wholeness and fragmentation, purity and sin, chastity and concupiscence that Mechthild employs in this work to characterize the embodied condition.

  • Neville has published "The Bodies of the Bride: The Language of Incarnation, Transcendence, and Time in the Poetic Theology of the Medieval Mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg" in Mystics Quarterly: The Academic Journal Of Medieval Western-European Mysticism (2008). The essay describes how Mechthild is able to legitimate her prophetic voice by emphasizing the wholeness of her mystical unitive being in comparison to the fragmented bodies of the corrupt priesthood by subverting contemporary discourses on the body, which disempower her as a woman, with metahistorical and theological discourses.
  • After spending time of researching how 3D digital game-based learning (3D-DGBL) environments assist in the acquisition of a second language and culture, Dr. Neville is beginning a project that will examine how Mechtild's mystical teachings of the body shaped the religious community at Helfta by exploring their reception in Getrude of Helfta's Exercitia spiritualia and Legatus divinae pietatis.

Dr. Toddie Peters
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Dr. Peters’ research interests include globalization, economic, and environmental ethics; sexuality issues; and reproductive concerns.  She is an ordained PCUSA minister and represents the PCUSA as a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.  She also chairs Salem Presbytery’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Task Group.

  • Peters' recent publications include In Search of the Good Life: the Ethics of Globalization (Continuum, hardcover, 2004; paperback, 2006); To Do Justice: Engaging Progressive Christians in Social Action, edited and with Introduction by Rebecca Todd Peters and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty (Westminster/John Knox, 2008); and Justice in a Global Economy: Strategies for Home, Community, and World, edited and with Introduction by Pamela Brubaker, Rebecca Todd Peters, and Laura Stivers  (Westminster/John Knox, 2006).
  • Dr. Peters is often invited to give lectures and addresses, nationally and internationally, on issues of social justice, globalization, and Christian ethical perspectives on economics.  

Dr. Michael Pregill
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Distinguished Emerging Scholar

Dr. Pregill's expertise is early Islam, with a specific focus on the Quran and its interpretive tradition (tafsir), including the interpretation of biblical, Jewish, and Christian themes and motifs in tafsir.  He is also interested in the origins of Islam and the Quran within the wider cultural, religious, and political world of Late Antiquity. 

  • Dr. Pregill is completing his first monograph entitled The Living Calf of Sinai: Polemic, Idolatry, and “Influence” in the Formation of the Judeo-Islamic Tradition.
  • Pregill's most recent publications include "The Sound of Fitna: The Levitical Election, Atonement, and Secession in Early and Classical Islamic Exegesis,” forthcoming in Comparative Islamic Studies, 2012; “Methodologies for the Dating of Exegetical Works and Traditions: Can the Lost Tafsir of al-Kalbi be Recovered from Tafsir Ibn Abbas (a.k.a. Al-Wadih)?” in Aims and Methods of Quranic Exegesis, ed. Karen Bauer (Oxford University Press, 2011); and “Ahab, Bar Kokhba, Muhammad, and the Lying Spirit: Prophetic Discourse before and after the Rise of Islam” In Revelation, Literature and Society in Antiquity, Philippa Townsend and Moulie Vidas, eds. (Mohr Siebeck, 2011).

Dr. Jeffrey Pugh
Maud Sharpe Powell Professor of Religious Studies

Dr. Pugh's research interests include the ways in which Christian theological perspectives intersect with politics and science.  He has done research into the life and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and is currently working on a project about the Anabaptist rebellion in Muenster.  

  • Pugh's publications include Devil's ink: Blog from the Basement Office (Fortress Press, 2011); Religionless Christianity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Troubled Times (T and T Clark, 2008); Entertaining the Triune Mystery: God, Science, and the Space Between, (Continuum Pubiishing, 2003); and The Matrix of Faith: Reclaiming a Christian Vision (Crossroad Publishing Company, 2001).
  • In his most recent book Devil's Ink, Pugh humorously adopts the persona of Satan as way of offering a critique of cultural institutions that many take for granted regardless of their negative effects.

Professor LD Russell
Lecturer in Religious Studies

Professor Russell's work is in the field of religion and culture.  His writing explores the intersections between evangelical Christianity and NASCAR and the religious inspirations and impulses in modern music, including hip hop, the blues, and rock and roll.

  • Professor Russell's most recent research includes a manuscript under development titled Into the Mystic: Religion and Rock & Roll and Godspeed:  Racing Is My Religion (Continuum, 2007).  He is also writing on the pedagogical use of music in the classroom and the role of hip hop in the northern African revolutions known as the Arab spring.
  • Russell is often asked to speak on world religions, including death and the afterlife across traditions, and he has served as a faculty guide for service/ spiritual retreats to Taize, France and to Turtle Island, NC.

Pamela D. Winfield
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Dr. Winfield is a scholar of Buddhist studies whose research and teaching focus on the intersection of religion and visual/material culture in East Asia.  Fields of interest include Zen, tantra, Buddhist icons and iconoclasm, religious experience, sacred space, religious healing and church-state relations in Japan and China.

  • Winfield's most current publications include a forthcoming manuscript titled Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism: Kukai and Dogen on the Art of Enlightenment (Oxford University Press); "The Mandala as Metropolis” in Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia, eds. Charles Orzech, Richard Payne, and Henrik Sørensen (Brill, 2011); “State of the Fields:  Recent Contributions to Japanese Art History and Religious Studies” in Religious Studies Review  (September 2010).
  • Dr. Winfield is the director for Elon's program in Asian Studies.