In additition to teaching, RELS faculty are busy conducting their own research.
Prof. Wright has been working on a project with Los Angeles based artist Tom Wudl whose drawings and paintings over the past decade have drawn their inspiration from the Avatamsaka sutra, an important Mahayana Buddhist scripture renown for it cosmology and extravagant imagery. Wright and Wudl have collaborated in an essay in the Buddhist journal, Tricycle, to appear in the summer edition (2014) in which they begin their joint exploration of Buddhist themes and practices in art. They plan to extend this collaboration into a museum exhibition and a full research catalog on the issues raised between Wudl’s art and Wright’s investigation of Buddhist sutras.
This year, Prof. Upson-Saia has been working on two articles on wounds in early Christian literature: the first uses cognitive linguistics to argue that the conceptions of sin and heresy were structured on the experience of being wounded and on the medical treatment of wounds prevalent in late antiquity. The second argues that Paul's rhetoric--re: cut off, forged out, loose and weak flesh--in his letter to the Galatians is premised on medical writings on the same subject.
Collaborating with Dr. Heidi Marx-Wolf (University of Manitoba), Prof. Upson-Saia has also launched the ReMeDHe working group (on the study of Religion, Medicine, Disability, and Health in Late Antiquity). In the Spring, they organized four sessions at the North American Patristic Society conference, as well as a pre-conference workshop. This summer, they are editing a special issue on these topics.
Prof. Upson-Saia served as the guest editor for a special issue of TransFORMATIONS: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy on “Teaching and Religion.”
Finally, later this summer, Prof. Upson-Saia will publish a volume she edited on religious dress in antiquity and a chapter in that volume on why some early Christian desert ascetics are represented as excessively hairy (see cover image to the right).
Prof. Naylor presented a paper at the American Academy of Religion Meeting in Baltimore for a special panel commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Abington Township v. Schempp decision on Bible-reading in public schools. His paper discussed the social climate at the time of the Supreme Court decision and the challenges posed by the decision today.
Professor Mena is currently working on converting his dissertation, “Borderlands/La Frontera of the Late Ancient Egyptian Desert: Space, Identity, and the Ascetic Imagination,” into a book. In this text he looks closely at the descriptions of space in Christian hagiography. In keeping with this research, he is also writing about the description of illness and suffering, as identifiers of desert communities in late antiquity by reading hagiographies alongside the works of Chicana poets, writers, and thinkers, such as Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, and Ana Castillo.
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