In response to the challenges facing many young scholars during the pandemic, the Project on Lived Theology is pleased to provide funding to thirty current graduate students in the University of Virginia’s
Department of Religious Studies. Each funding recipient has been awarded a $500 stipend in support of his or her research, writing, and professional needs. We are excited to see how their varied and groundbreaking work will contribute to the flourishing of just and compassionate communities, and to a better understanding of lived religious experiences and practices, past and present.
Here are some representatives of this group of graduate students:
My work will explore questions about the gendered religious subjectivities of late-19th and early-20th century Mormons as they relate to the integration of Utah-based Mormon “civil religion” with American national “civil religion.” Civil religion will thus serve as a site for considering cultural resistance, creativity, and “secularization,” and will hopefully contribute to better understanding the lived experience of many contemporary American Latter-day Saints, whose devotion to the integrated Mormon-American civil religion has long since become identified with Christian nationalism.
My research focuses on the intersection of medicine and religion in 20th- and 21st-century America, especially how people weigh their religious beliefs in the process of making medical decisions. Although I have not yet finalized a dissertation topic, I am considering researching how religious communities have reacted to vaccination and/or how medical and public health decisions can have an inordinate effect on minoritized religious and racial groups.
My dissertation project re-frames “mental health challenges” as a mental difference that I term “neurodivergence.” My work’s principal concern is to establish a place for people with social, emotional, and intellectual disabilities—a liberative sense of belonging—within the Christian story of fall, redemption, and grace.
Through the lens of Narrative Ethics and in conversation with the growing field of Socio-Narratology, I am studying a notorious and ethically complex biblical narrative, Genesis 34, and ancient works that retell and interpret it. My hope is that this research may have a potential impact for the everyday reader of the biblical text, or everyday hearer of retellings of the biblical text, and for those who are in positions of authority in communities of biblical faith, who regularly read, retell, and interpret the biblical text.
My dissertation focuses on the work of Maṇḍana Miśra, a remarkably influential but under-studied religious intellectual and Hindu philosopher, who lived and wrote in India in the 8th century CE. My research is motivated by an interest in the ways in which the different argumentative approaches employed by Sanskrit intellectuals allow them to accomplish certain kinds of philosophical work.
My project collects and classifies descriptions of anthropomorphic angels in several ancient Jewish and Christian novels (c.200 BCE-200 CE). A closer look at these often-neglected figures helps us fill in the celestial landscape envisioned by the communities that authored and transmitted these texts, and gives us insight into how some navigated their relationship to the divine during a period of great religious change and literary activity.
Rebekah K. Latour
My research in Christian Theological Perspectives focuses on embodiment ethics, sex and gender, Christology, and trauma studies. I am interested in developing a Christian ethic of embodiment that maintains both feminist and incarnational commitments; yet, at the same time, I wonder whether Christologies ultimately eclipse the lives of women of varying bodies, backgrounds, and experiences. With my research, I hope to attend to the complicated relationship that many Christians have with Christianity and the Christian church.
My dissertation focuses on the Stotras (Sanskrit hymns) of Appayya Dīkṣita, a 16th-century Śaiva poet, philosopher, and theologian in South India. His thought and expression speak to the productive cross-fertilization between differing religious traditions as well as to the interplay between theology and lived religion in South India and beyond.
My dissertation brings Martin Buber's dialogical philosophy (or philosophical anthropology) into conversation with Walter Benjamin's “Theses on the Concept of History.” Following a dialogical consideration of Benjamin's view of history, I bring these perspectives to bear on a close reading of the poetry and poetic theories of Adrienne Rich. My work emphasizes both our capacity and the ongoing, urgent need to attend to histories of oppression, even when those histories are effaced by the structures of oppression we continue to inhabit.
I focus on late imperial Chinese religion, especially through the collected letters of the Buddhist scholar-monk Yinguang (1862-1940). My research draws from four years of fieldwork in Taiwan, including two years at a modern Zen monastery. I aim to give voice to the many flourishing Buddhist practice traditions I have encountered and to bring them into conversation with academic disciplines.
My research explores how basic philosophical and theological commitments influence the way we approach political and ethical problems. My dissertation is focused more narrowly on the concept of contingency and examines the moral implications of the claim that the world is subject to contingent events or events that fall outside of God’s causal purview.
My dissertation calls into question preconceived notions of masculinity, sexuality, and gender performance in the late-4th century. Through a close reading of the works of the church father Jerome, I explore the instability and malleability of what some early Christians considered "manly." Although centered in the early Christian Mediterranean, Jeannie's research has broad implications for modern conversations surrounding toxic masculinity, purity culture, and perceived gender norms.
My dissertation travels to the coalfields of rural Pennsylvania to analyze a partnership between faith-based organizers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Justice. I draw on this experience to criticize academic ethics as a mode of discourse aloof from public life and to model a community-based approach that is publicly engaged and politically transformative.
Dallas C. Tatman
In my dissertation, I investigate religious pluralism and national identity in Senegalese society through the history and current practice of the national sport, lámb. Contrary to assertations that Islam has inhibited culture-intensive sports such as lámb, I argue that lámb is uniquely suited as a lens to investigate Islamic pluralism and identity in Senegal.
The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia is a research initiative, whose mission is to study the social consequences of theological ideas for the sake of a more just and compassionate world.