Author Archives: Chelsea

2012-2013 End of Year Report

The IRCPL would like to thank all of the many scholars, students, and community members who helped make 2012-13 such a successful year. Please join us in taking a look back on the past year’s research projects and events by viewing our end of year report here.


“Rewiring Literary Criticism”: A Review of Mark C. Taylor’s Rewiring the Real

Over the weekend, N. Katherine Hayles, a literary critic and professor at Duke University, reviewed Mark C. Taylor’s newest book, Rewiring the Real, for the Los Angeles Review of Books. She writes:

“Rewiring the Real dares to imagine the creature whose existence seems increasingly imperiled by web surfing, video games, and distracted attention: the general educated book reader. Significantly, Taylor does more than ignore literary criticism; he actively resists it, choosing to locate the payoff for his readings as contributions to a field that does not yet exist — literature and religion, or better still literature as secular theology— but that he strives to bring into being. As if following the mantra, “if you build it, they will come,” he aims to convince his readers not only to believe in, but also to imagine themselves inhabiting, this hypothetical field.

In addressing this general reader, Rewiring the Real modifies the kind of argumentation in which literary criticism typically engages. Devoting one chapter to each of the four authors whose names populate the subtitle, Rewiring the Real may appear on first reading to lack an overall thesis. Each chapter stands more or less alone as an in-depth reading of a literary text, with few explicit connections between chapters. Many books are constructed using this model, gathering into one volume essays previously published separately. Rewiring the Real, however, follows a more creative and devious strategy. The thematic connections are there, but they are not framed as explicit arguments. Rather, they work through subtle repetitions of tropes that gain resonance as they reappear in new contexts: the counterfeit, the uncanny, the virtual, the cave, and most importantly, the void, the nihilation, the nothing (no-thing). These repetitions function more like poetry than explication, gesturing toward something that cannot be named or grasped directly. The role of this elusive something, it turns out, is the book’s major thesis.”

Read the full review here.

New Directions in Prayer: Trauma and Prayer


Listen to “Trauma and Prayer” in full here:

Trauma and Prayer

New Directions in Prayer is a three-part series of one-hour radio episodes produced by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life for its media project Rethinking Religion.  “Trauma and Prayer,” the first episode in the series, explores the role prayer plays in the lives of people who have experienced abuse or extreme trauma. With Dr. Norris J. Chumley as Series Host and Executive Producer and Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, author of Trauma and Grace, as featured commentator, the episode focuses not only on distinct forms of prayer, but also on the varied areas in which prayer is used to mitigate the impact of abuse and/or trauma. Listen to the full episode and full length interviews with the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones and William Moyers below.

This program was made possible through a grant from the Social Science Research Council, with support of the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect the views of the Social Science Research Council or the John Templeton Foundation.

End of Year Thank You

The staff of the Institute of Religion, Culture, and Public Life would like to thank you for making 2012-2013 another wonderfully successful year and to extend our congratulations to all of Columbia University’s 2013 graduates. In addition to on-going research projects on religious accommodation, mobility, and toleration, this year brought events ranging from talks by Rebecca Solnit, Wally Broecker, and Paul Lieberman, to the 2013 Bampton Lectures in America with the artist Liam Gillick, to series on religion in American politics and the intersections of immigration, incarceration, and religion. Stay tuned to the IRCPL throughout the summer as we will be releasing new radio episodes from our New Directions in Prayer series and posting our Fall 2013 events calendar.

Abdou Filali-Ansary on Democratisation in Muslim Contexts

Listen to a public talk by Abdou Filali-Ansary, Research Professor at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) in London, UK.

Martin Seymour Lipset stressed, more than fifty years ago, that ‘prerequisites’ for democracy include economic development and political legitimacy. Since the beginning of the so called Arab Spring, aspects of political legitimacy dominate discussions, while economic development seems to have been put on the back burner, if not forgotten altogether. In this talk, Dr. Filali-Ansary will revisit the way in which issues of legitimacy are linked to discussions of religious and cultural traditions. He will explore how this leads us to raise fresh questions about the on-going transitions in Muslim contexts and the prospects of democratisation in the Third World, more generally.

Eric Gregory on Sacred Fruit- Augustine, Liberalism, and the Good Samaritan

Listen to a lecture by Eric Gregory, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, delivered at Columbia University on April 2, 2013. Recent developments in political theory, religious studies, and social criticism have led to revived interest in political theology as an alternative to more conventional approaches to “religion and politics.”  This lecture examines these developments in light of various encounters with the contested legacy of Augustine of Hippo.  Particular focus will be given to debates about secularity, realism, and moral sentiment in democratic culture.

Professor Gregory is the author of Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship (University of Chicago Press, 2008). His interests include religious and philosophical ethics, theology, political theory, law and religion, and the role of religion in public life. In 2007 he was awarded Princeton’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. A graduate of Harvard College, he earned an M.Phil. and Diploma in Theology from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and his doctorate in Religious Studies from Yale University.

Eddie Glaude on Publics, Prosperity, and Politics: the Changing Face of African American Christianity and Black Political Life

On Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, Eddie Glaude considered how the “blind spots” in African American religious historiography block the way to a more nuanced engagement with the powerful phenomenon of celebrity preachers and their mega churches.  More specifically, he examined W.E.B. Du Bois’s classic essay, “Of the Faith of the Fathers,” as a paradigmatic example of the evasion of forms of African American Christian expression that complicate traditional narratives of the prophetic role of black churches in African American politics.  Continue reading