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2008-2009 Fellows

Affiliate Fellow Willem Drees and Visiting Fellows Kathryn Lofton and Eric Johnson

Fellows in the Study of Religion and Religious History for the 2008-2009 academic year

Eric B. Johnson received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University in 2008. His work considers the dynamic interaction between large scale institutions and concrete social processes in ways that combine interpretive and structural approaches. His dissertation, “Meaning through Movement: Institutional Rules and Patterns of Pastor Mobility in Presbyterian (PCUSA) and United Methodist (UMC) Congregations,” treats pastor mobility as a cultural market, tracing the movement of pastors through congregations in order to better understand how structural processes underlie the local production of meaning.  While at Princeton, he will examine narratives of congregational 
identity, seeking to understand how congregations make sense out of common event sequences and how their interpretations differ between denominations.

Kathryn Lofton was an assistant professor of American studies and religious studies at Indiana University, Bloomington from 2006-2008. In July, 2009, she will join the faculty of Yale University as assistant professor of American studies and religious studies. Lofton received her A.B. (2000) from the Department of History and the Committee on Religion in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, her M.A. (2002) and Ph.D. (2005) from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and taught for one year as a Visiting Professor of Religion and Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  Professor Lofton's research interests focus on the intersection of religious innovation, consumer culture, and the modern imaginary.  While at the Center, she will be working on two book projects. The Modernity in Mr. Shaw: Modernisms and Fundamentalisms in American Culture offers a reappraisal of early fundamentalism and Christian modernisms in the United States, focusing in particular on one editor of The Fundamentals, John Balcom Shaw (1860-1935), who was remitted from the Presbyterian ministry in 1918 following accusations of sodomy. Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon appraises a contemporary international celebrity, humanitarian, and charismatic authority as a contemporary exemplar of multiple patterns in American religious studies.

Affiliate Fellows:

Willem B. Drees is professor of philosophy of religion and ethics at Leiden University. From 2005 until 2008 he served as dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies of Leiden University, the Netherlands. He has recently been elected to become editor-in-chief of the journal Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. For the academic year 2008-2009 he will be the Witherspoon Fellow for Theology and Science at the Center of Theological Inquiry and affiliate fellow for the Center for the Study of Religion of Princeton University. His main research focus for this year will be on the influence of technology and ecology on religious beliefs and practices. Previous publications include Beyond the Big Bang: Quantum Cosmologies and God (Open Court, 1990), Religion, Science and Naturalism (Cambridge University Press, 1996), and Creation: From Nothing until Now (Routledge, 2002).

Petra Schierl is an assistant ("Assistentin") of Latin at the University of Basel. She received her B.A. in Classics from Oxford University in 1999 and her Dr. phil. from LMU Munich in 2004. Her recent research focuses on the development of Christian poetry in Late Antiquity. Special attention is given to the interplay of panegyric and religion. Schierl is currently co-editing the proceedings of an international conference on Latin poetry in Late Antiquity held in Basel in 2007. For 2009–2010 she will receive a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to conduct research for a book on the transformation of bucolic poetry from Classical to Late Antiquity at the universities of Princeton and St. Andrews. While at the Center she is examining the role of the deus in Vergil's Eclogues and Christian bucolic poems.