Jason Mahn's recently-released book Fortunate Fallibility: Kierkegaard and the Power of Sin (Oxford University Press) and Cyrus Zargar's about-to-be-released book Sufi Aesthetics: Beauty, Love, and the Human Form in the Writings of Ibn ‘Arabi and ‘Iraqi (University of South Carolina Press) are both featured on the home page of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Congratulations to both Jason and Cyrus!
Jason Mahn, Religion, published his first book this summer: Fortunate Fallibility: Kierkegaard and the Power of Sin (Oxford University Press, 2011). He may have been thinking of Augustana when he begins Chapter 1 with these words: "Imagine a professor standing at the chalkboard. The school is a liberal arts college with a nominal religious affiliation, but one where students are still required to take a course in Christianity alongside three semesters of modern languages and two semesters of physical education..." A colleague from Boston College says this about the book as a whole: "The great both/and of Kierkegaard's writings is, Mahn shows us, the both/and of the human situation--fated and free in our errant lives. Mahn's Kierkegaard, like Augustine, lays bare the reality of sin as 'a disease that infests us long before we choose it.' Only out of the sustained encounter with this reality, Mahn argues, does the 'human at full register' emerge. At last a writer whose sure-footed exegesis unveils the fine logic behind Kierkegaard's theoretical hesitations!" (Vanessa Rumble). Beginning this summer with a grant from the Freistat Center Peace Studies grant, Mahn began work on what he hopes will become a second book, which he hopes to call: Becoming a Christian in Christendom.
Cyrus Zargar's book responds to misunderstandings about the bodily and erotic in Islamic literature, including the Qur'an's depiction of the afterlife. Sufi Aesthetics argues that exploring the unique perceptive experience of Muslim mystics sheds light on Islamic interpretations of the relationship between body and spirit. A quote from the introduction: "Hopefully, by reflecting on the altered perception claimed by mystics ... the complex and contradictory language of mysticism will come to new life. Islamic mysticism particularly yearns for such new life. After all, a labyrinth of misunderstandings, surrounding Islamic mysticism and even Islam itself, has arisen from a failure to acknowledge the relevance of vision. By considering the sensory as a vehicle for that which the soul beholds, the imaginative literature of Islamic mysticism will seem far less imaginary. The erotic poetry produced by medieval Muslim mystics will seem far less allegorical. Moreover, the Paradise found in the Qur'an, in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and in centuries of Islamic literature, will seem far less simplistically profane." Working with students, especially in his class on Islamic mysticism, helped Zargar profoundly in revising his book and having it speak to non-specialists. Zargar is currently working on his next project, a book about the life and significance of a 17th-century Safavid mystic and jurist. It is tentatively titled "Fayd Kashani." Information about Sufi Aesthetics can be found HERE.
Over the summer David Arbesú was appointed to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies starting with issue 4.1.
Todd Cleveland was invited to Ohio University in May to give two public lectures, the first entitled "Following the Ball: African Soccer Players, Labor Strategies and Immigration across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1945-75," sponsored by the African Studies Program, and the second entitled "Blood(less) Diamonds: Corporate Paternalism and Labor Professionalism on Angola's Colonial-Era Mines, 1917-75," sponsored by the Contemporary History Institute; and, in June, traveled to Lisbon, Portugal to present a paper entitled "A Process within the Process: Decolonization and the Companhia de Diamantes de Angola (Diamang), 1961-75," at The End of the Portuguese Empire in a Comparative Perspective Conference.
Bill Hammer was an invited participant in a workshop held in Washington DC and sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. The purpose of the three day June workshop was to review the major scientific accomplishments of the International Polar Year and prepare a report to be submitted to the National Science Foundation by the end of this year.
Two current Augustana geology majors, Spencer Hellert and Jake Crandall and former Augustana student Nate Smith co-authored an article with Bill Hammer and Pete Makovicky (Field Museum of Natural History) that was published in the July 2011 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. This article, titled "Anatomy and affinities of large archosauromorphs from the lower Fremouw Formation of Antarctica" resulted from internships the two undergraduates were awarded to work at the Field Museum during the summer of 2010. The internships were part of the ongoing collaborative research between Makoviky and former student Smith (who received his PhD this summer from the University of Chicago) at the Field Museum with Hammer. The internships were funded from Hammer's current Antarctic grant from the National Science Foundation. The same grant funded four Augustana undergraduate interns during the summer of 2011, two working at the Field Museum and two at Augustana. These internships will also result in major publications to be submitted this year on which the undergraduates involved will be co-authors.
Dan Lee participated in the 2011 Convocation of Teaching Theologians held in August at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. The theme of this year's convocation was "Authority." Participation in convocations sponsored by the Association of Teaching Theologians is by invitation and is limited to members of the association, which includes those who teach theology or related areas at ELCA colleges and seminaries and ELCA scholars who teach at other institutions.
Kristy Nabhan-Warren's article, "Embodied Research and Writing: A Case for Phenomenologically Oriented Religious Studies Ethnographies" was published in the June issue of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the official journal of the American Academy of Religion. This summer, Kristy was invited to join the Editorial Board of the journal Spiritus, the official journal of the Society of Christian Spirituality.
Jane Simonsen's essay "Descendants of Black Hawk: Generations of Identity in Sauk Portraiture" was published in the June, 2011 issue of American Quarterly, a national journal of American Studies scholarship. Archival research for the essay was done in Augustana's Special Collections and originated with a Special Collections Faculty Research Stipend. The publication features fourteen photographs from the John Henry Hauberg Collection. She also traveled to Amherst, Massachusetts in June to present a version of this paper at the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women.