Dear alumni/ae, current students, faculty, staff, and friends,
This is my first opportunity to introduce myself to many of you. A member of the Theological School New Testament faculty for some fifteen years, I took over from Virginia Burrus last July as Chair of the Graduate Division of Religion. I previously had the privilege of chairing the GDR from 2004 to 2009, the first five years of its existence. This won’t come as any surprise to those of you who know her, but Virginia left the GDR in superb shape administratively. I’m sure many of you will want to join me in wishing her every success as she begins a new chapter of her professional life as the Bishop W. Earl Ledden Professor of Religion at Syracuse University.
This is also a time, however, to celebrate a new addition to our faculty. This spring Dr. Gerald Liu joins us as Assistant Professor of Homiletics. Gerald holds a Ph.D. in Homiletics and Liturgics from Vanderbilt University. His dissertation was titled “Musics and the Generosity of God” and has now evolved into his first book project. It argues that “all sounds manifest divine generosity.” Gerald further describes his project as an attempt “to broaden conceptions of when and how proclamation and worship take place.” Gerald’s research interests also revolve around “Asian American ways of preaching and worship, the viability of rigorous ‘low church’ liturgical scholarship, and possibilities for undertaking experimental worship and establishing a theological and liturgical avant-garde.”
This spring we also hope to make a further, particularly crucial addition to the Theological School community. In this issue, Dr. Terry Todd reports on behalf of the committee currently searching for the next Theological School Dean.
One of the most exciting intellectual events in the Theo School calendar is the Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium. This spring’s TTC, scheduled for March 28-30, will inject new life into the science and religion debate by triangulating it with critical theory. To put it another way, “Entangled Worlds: Science, Religion, Materiality” will bring the heady science-theory fusion known as the “new materialism,” currently making such a splash in the humanities and social sciences, into dialogue with theology, and religious studies more broadly. See Shelley Dennis’s article on “Entangled Worlds” for further details. This TTC will also include a special alumni/ae event, as Shelley explains, an event we hope might be the start of something big as we go forward.
A further conference that has become an important fixture in the Theo School calendar is the International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism. These annual congresses seek to extend the philosophical and theological implications of ecstatic naturalism, the system of thought developed by Robert Corrington, Professor of Philosophical Theology, during his decades at Drew. The Fourth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism is scheduled for April 11-12. This year’s theme will be “Nature and Psyche,” and the plenary speaker will be John J. Thatamanil, Associate Professor of Theology and World Religions at Union Theological Seminary and author of The Immanent Divine: God, Creation, and the Human Predicament.
This issue of the Newsletter contains a further article in our “course spotlight” series, this time on “The Interdisciplinary Seminar in Women’s Studies,” long a staple of the GDR curriculum, and not only for women students. With disarming frankness, Peter McClellan writes about his experience of taking this course as a man.
Finally, this issue revives our “faculty booknotes” feature. In an attempt to catch up with our prolific faculty, the article we are running highlights faculty publications of the past five years. We plan to follow this in the next issue with a companion article highlighting alumni/ae books (monographs or edited volumes) published during the same time period (2008-2013). Please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a recent book you would like to see included.
All good wishes,