Department of Religious Studies


Religious Studies faculty and students engage in a wide array of research. View highlights of ongoing projects in the field.

Mark S. Cladis

Brooke Russell Astor Professor of the Humanities

Image for Radical RomanticismMark Cladis is about two chapters away from completing his book, Radical Romanticism: Democracy, Religion and the Environmental Imagination. The book is an exploration of the progressive democratic, religious, and environmental beliefs and practices that informed one another in the 18th and 19th century European Romantic literature and its subsequent and sustained legacies in North America. Radical Romanticism is a less romantic Romanticism: it is not so much focused on sublime vistas but rather on poignant human encounters and events that bring attention to the experience of war, empire, misogyny, white supremacy, environmental degradation, and oppressive political and religious institutions. Radical Romanticism is an intellectual tradition, an aesthetic tradition, a way of life. It seeks to cultivate perspectives, practices, and affect that bring dignity and justice to the human and the more-than-human worlds. It acknowledges beauty and cruelty, hope and despair, wonder and uncertainty, mystery and knowledge, weaving these intricately together, depicting life in times of personal and public crisis, and fortifying our means of personal and public transformation. Radical Romanticism's hallmark is to link the cultivation of the heart (character) and a public language (civic engagement) to address such disasters as climate change and white nationalism.

Janine Anderson Sawada

Professor of Religious Studies & East Asian Studies

Image for Mt. Fuji Book
Entrance to the Mt. Fuji cave, Hitoana
Janine Anderson Sawada's forthcoming book, titled, Faith in Mount Fuji: The Rise of Independent Religion in Early Modern Japan treats the transformation of Japanese popular religion in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries through the lens of Fujikō, a network of groups dedicated to the worship of Mount Fuji.

Srinivas Reddy

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies & Contemplative Studies

Atharva-Veda Samhita IllustrationSrinivas Reddy's current book project is an Anthology of Classical Indian Literature for Bloomsbury India. The Anthology is a multilingual translation project which provides a wide survey of classical Indian literature from the earliest Vedic hymns to the rise of devotional bhakti poetry in the eighth century CE. The Anthology will include excerpts from seminal works of Indian mythology, philosophy, poetry and narrative literature organized both chronologically and thematically in order to provide a broad perspective of Indian literary history while highlighting the cross-fertilizing connections between various Indian literary traditions. Each selection will be accompanied by a short introduction to frame the excerpt at hand and contextualize it within larger developments in Indian cultural history.

Michael Satlow

Professor of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies

Satlow Digital Humanities Michael Satlow is actively working in two areas at the moment. The first is a synthetic study of "lived religion" in Late Antiquity. At the time, in the third to seventh centuries CE, when Jewish and Christian intellectuals were developing their own distinctive religious identities - in conversation and often conflict with each other and the so-called 'pagan' population - most people had a more fluid and shared understanding of their relationship with deities and other invisible beings. He is hoping to finish this book in the next year or two.

His other area is digital humanities. He continues to work on a database, "Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine" and am using network analysis tools to analyze rabbinic literature.

Noah Tetenbaum

Graduate Student, Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean

Noah's research deals broadly with the intellectual history of the Jews of the medieval Islamic world. His dissertation focuses on perceptions of the ancient Jewish sacrificial cult among 10th-century Karaites, especially as expressed in their Arabic Bible commentaries and legal codes, and implications of those perceptions of Karaite notions of sacred history, community, and authority.

Saul M. Olyan

Samuel Ungerleider, Jr. Professor of Judaic Studies, and Professor of Religious Studies

At present, he is writing a new book entitled Animal Rights and the Hebrew Bible, which is under contract with Oxford University Press. In this book, he considers whether there are biblical texts that ascribe an implicit form of legal personhood as well as legal rights to animals and, if so, which rights, to which animals in particular—domesticated, wild, both— and for what purpose? He also explores how the evidence of the Hebrew Bible might contribute to contemporary debate about animal rights in the academy, in the courts, in the public square and in religious communities. He plans to finish the manuscript in 2022 when he is on sabbatical. His recent publications include two co-edited books (Animals and the Law in Antiquity, Brown Judaic Studies, 2021, with Jordan Rosenblum; Pain in Biblical Texts and Other Materials of the Ancient Mediterranean, Mohr/Siebeck, 2021, with Michaela Bauks) and his monograph Violent Rituals of the Hebrew Bible, Oxford University Press, 2019.

Stephen S. Bush

Professor and Chair of Religious Studies

Stephen S. Bush is presently working on "Regarding Humans Otherwise: The Aesthetic Transformation of Anthropocene Democracy." This book explores the status of "the human" (and associated terms, such as humanity, humanism, humanitarianism, and human rights) in light of criticisms by ecological thinkers, race theorists, and gender theorists, who hold that the category is implicitly white and masculine and explicitly anthropocentric. But can we conceive of democracy without a special privilege for humans? Drawing from resources in religion, the book argues for an aesthetic transformation (through art, literature, and in the flesh) of how we regard humans, in pursuit of a pluralistic, ecological democracy.

Randong Yu

Undergraduate Concentrator

Acquiesced Perception examines the interconnection between the spectrum of perceptions in relation to the work of art. The project initiates the investigation of the correlation between the artist and the viewer through mental imagery and further the examination through textual narratives.Six Through a coherently artistic and scientific approach, the project punctures the obscurity embedded within the perceptual constructs of human creations by questioning the nature of differentiation and duality.


Soyoung You

Graduate Student, Asian Religious Traditions

She is currently working on her dissertation. The working title of her project is "Restructuring Confucian Learning and Sagehood: Tasan’s Understanding of the Great Learning and the Mean." It examines Tasan Chŏng Yakyong's (丁若鏞, 1762-1836), who was one of the most distinctive Confucian thinkers in the late Chosŏn period, interpretation on the Neo-Confucian core texts of the Daxue (大學 Great Learning) and the Zhongyong (中庸 Doctrine of the Mean). Through his commentaries on those texts, Tasan challenged the Neo-Confucian traditional perspectives on human nature, morality, and politics. In so doing, Tasan pursued his own goal of the project of learning, often referred to as "Learning of Serving Heaven" (事天學).