In the Religious Studies Program, religious traditions are explored in all of their complexity through comparative, contextual (in specific historical or cultural contexts), and thematic studies. The courses offered through the program are built on the established scholarly tradition of the study of religion as an academic, as opposed to confessional, pursuit.

The Religious Studies Program, an undergraduate program in the College of Arts & Sciences, is designed to meet the needs of three classes of students: students planning to pursue advanced degrees in the academic study of religion or allied disciplines or sub-disciplines (e.g., history of religions, religion and literature, religion and psychology, ethics, theology, area studies); students seeking courses on topics relating to religion to fulfill distribution requirements: and students desiring a more systematic exposure to the academic study of religion as a significant component of a liberal arts education.

The program offers an excellent opportunity to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the complex ways in which religious traditions inform human thought and behavior. The program hosts lectures, conferences, symposia and periodic social gatherings for faculty members and students throughout the academic year to foster a sense of intellectual community.

Department website

Xavier Pickett

Assistant Professor

Ambre Dromgoole

Post Doctoral Associate

Jason Sion Mokhtarian

Herbert and Stephanie Neuman Associate Professor and Director of Jewish Studies Program



  • Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests: The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran (University of California Press, 2015)
  • Medicine in the Talmud: Natural and Supernatural Remedies between Magic and Science (University of California Press, 2022). 

Edited Volumes

  • The Aramaic Incantation Bowls in Their Late Antique Contexts (under contract, Brown Judaic Studies). Co-edited with Alexander Marcus. 

  • Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, special edition on “Ancient Jewish Memories of Achaemenid Persia.” Co-edited with Kristin Joachimsen (PERSIAS research group). 

  • Iranian Studies, special edition on “Religious Trends in Late Ancient and Early Islamic Iran.” Volume 48.1 (2015). Co-edited with David Bennett.

Selected Articles

  • “Families and Lists of Protections in the Aramaic Incantation Bowls” (forthcoming) 

  • “A Judeo-Persian Translation of the Book of Esther (Bibliothèque nationale de France MS Hébreu 127)” (forthcoming)   

  • “Material Culture of the Jews of Sasanian Mesopotamia.” In A Companion to Late Ancient Jews and Judaism: Third Century BCE to Seventh Century CE, eds. Naomi Koltun-Fromm and Gwynn Kessler (Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing, 2020), 145-166.
  • “Zoroastrian Polemics against Judaism in the Doubt-Dispelling Exposition.” Mizan: Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations 3.1 (2018)
  • “Clusters of Iranian Loanwords in Talmudic Folklore: The Chapter of the Pious (b. Ta’anit 18b-26a) in Its Sasanian Context.” In The Aggada of the Bavli and Its Cultural World, eds. Geoffrey Herman and Jeffrey L. Rubenstein (Providence: Brown Judaic Studies, 2018), 125-148.
  • “Excommunication in Jewish Babylonia: Comparing Bavli Mo‘ed Qatan 14b-17b and the Aramaic Bowl Spells in a Sasanian Context.” Harvard Theological Review 108 (2015): 552-578.
  • “Empire and Authority in Sasanian Babylonia: The Rabbis and King Shapur in Dialogue.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 19 (2012): 148-180.

Olga Litvak

Laurie B. and Eric M. Roth Professor of Modern European Jewish History


Select publications: 

•   Haskalah: The Romantic Movement in Judaism (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012).

•   Conscription and the Search for Modern Russian Jewry (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006).

“The Jewish Boswell: Y. D. Berkovich and the Invention of Sholem-aleichem [Heb.],” Ot 7 (2017): 129-154.

“The New Marranos,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry Annual 29 (2016): 245-267.

“Rome and Jerusalem: The Figure of Jesus in the Creation of Mark Antokol’skii,” The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times, ed. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Jonathan Karp (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 441-496.

“The Poet in Hell: H. N. Bialik and the Cultural Genealogy of the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903,” Jewish Studies Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 1 (2005), 101-128.

Seema Golestaneh

Associate Professor



Unknowing and the Everyday: Sufism and Knowledge in Iran, forthcoming with Duke University Press


“Open Sounds, Hidden Spaces: Listening, Wandering, and Literalism in Sufi Iran,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, March 2022.

‘To be Transformed into Thought Itself’: Mystical and Political Becomings in the work of Ali Shariati," Philosophy and Global Affairs, Spring 2022.

“Text and Contest: Theories of Secrecy and Dissimulation in the Archives of Sufi Iran” in Sufism and Shi’ism in the Early Modern and Modern Eras, IB Tauris, 2019.

“Women’s Religious and Social Activism in Iran” in ed. Afsaruddin, Asma, Oxford Handbook on Islam and Women, forthcoming.

Munther A. Younes

Reis Senior Lecturer of Arabic Language and Linguistics



  • RiHla ilaa Bilaad al-‘Arab: A Comprehensive Introductory Course for Arabic Heritage Speakers. Routledge 2021.
  • Arabiyyat al-Naas fii MaSr, Part I, with Makda Weatherspoon, Elizabeth Huntley and Jonathan Featherstone, Routledge 2020. (A first-year Arabic textbook with an audio and video component.)
  • Kalila wa Dimna for Students of Arabic, Second Edition,  Routledge 2020.
  • Charging Steeds or Maidens Performing Good Deeds: In Search of the Original Qur’an. Routledge, 2019.
  • The Integrated Approach to Arabic Instruction, Routledge 2015.
  • Arabiyyat al-Naas, Part III, (for third-year Arabic), with Yomna Chami, Routledge 2014.
  • Arabiyyat al-Naas, Part II, (for second-year Arabic), with Hanada al-Masri, Routledge, 2013.
  • Arabiyyat al-Naas, Part I (for first-year Arabic), with Makda Weatherspoon and Maha Saliba Foster, Routledge 2013.
  • The Routledge Introduction to Qur’anic Arabic, Routledge 2013.


  • “Entering the House through the Front Door: The Integrated Approach to Arabic Instruction”, to appear in Relating Arabic L2 Teaching to CEFR Guidelines: Principles, Approaches, and Practices (Proceedings of the conference “Mastering Arabic Variation” held at the University of Genoa, Italy in September 2018.
  • “Solving the Arabic Language Dilemma: First Steps”.  In Revisiting Levels of Contemporary Arabic in Egypt: Essays on Arabic Varieties in Memory of El-Said Badawi, edited by Zeinab Taha. The American University in Cairo Press, 2020.
  • (With Elizabeth Huntley) “From an MSA-Only to a Fully Integrated AFL Curriculum”. In The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics. Edited by Enam El-Wer and Uri Horesh. Routledge, 2019.
  • “To Separate or to Integrate, That Is the Question”. In Arabic Integration. Edited by Mahmoud al-Batal. Georgetown University Press, 2018.
  •  “Blessing, Clinging, Familiarity, Custom -- or Ship: A New Reading of the Word Īlāf  in Q 106”, Journal of Semitic Studies LXII/1 Spring 2017.
  • “Angels, Death, the Soul, Stars, Bows--or Women?: The Opening Verses of Qur’an 79.” New Perspectives on the Qur’aan: The Qur’an in Its Historical Context 2”. Edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds. London and New York: Routledge 2011.
  • “In Suffering or in Honor: A Reinterpretation of Q 90 (al-Balad)”, Die Entstehung einer Weltreligion I. Edited by Markus Groß and Karl-Heinz Ohlig. Berlin/Tübingen: Verlag Hans Schiller 2010.
  • “The Case for Integration” The NECTFL Review. Fall-Winter 2009.
  • “Ingrate or Honorable: A reexamination of the word kanuud in Qur’an:100 (Al-‘Aadiyaat)”, Arabica 56, 2009.
  • “Charging Steeds or Maidens Doing Good Deeds: A Re-Interpretation Of Qur’an 100 (Al-‘Aadiyaat)”, Arabica 55, 2008.
  • “On ’I‘raab, Power, and Language Reform in the Arab World”, Al-‘Arabiyya 40-41, 2008.
  •  “Bringing Hamza under Control:  A Proposal for Simplifying Hamza-Writing Rules in Arabic”. Al-'Arabiyya 38-40, 2008.
  • “Integrating the Colloquial with Fusha in the Arabic-as-a-Foreign-Language Classroom”, in Handbook for Arabic language teaching professionals in the 21st century (edited by Kassem M. Wahba, Zeinab A. Taha, Liz England).Mahwah, N.J. : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006.
  • “Redundancy and productivity in Palestinian Arabic verb derivation”, in Proceedings of the Third International Conference of AIDA (Association Internationale de Dialectologie Arabe),  2000.
  •  "An Integrated Curriculum for Teaching Elementary Arabic,"  The Teaching of Arabic in the 1990’s: Directions and Issues, 1995.
  • "On Vowel Shortening in Palestinian Arabic," Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics VII: Papers from the Seventh Annual Symposium on Arabic  Linguistics, 1995.
  • "On Emphasis and /r/ in Arabic," Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics VI: Papers from the Sixth Annual Symposium on Arabic  Linguistics,  1994.
  • "Emphasis Spread in Two Arabic Dialects," Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics V: Papers from the Fifth Annual Symposium on Arabic  Linguistics, 1993.
  • "An Integrated Approach to Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language," Al-‘Arabiyya 23, 1990.
  • "The Stressing of Superheavy Syllables by Saudi Learners of English: Implications for the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis,"  Proceedings of the Third Annual Yarmouk University Linguistics Conference, Irbid, Jordan, 1984.
  •  "Emphasis and the Low Vowels in Palestinian Arabic”, Texas  Linguistics  Forum  23, 1984.

Andrew C. Willford



The Future of Bangalore's Cosmopolitan Pasts: Civility and Difference in a Global City.  (U. Hawaii Press, 2018)

Tamils and the Haunting of Justice: History and Recognition in Malaysia’s Plantations (U. Hawaii Press, 2014)

Clio/Anthropos: Exploring the Boundaries between History and Anthropology.  Andrew Willford and Eric Tagliacozzo, eds.  (Stanford University Press, 2009)

Cage of Freedom: Tamil Identity and the Ethnic Fetish in Malaysia. (University of Michigan Press, 2006

Asian edition: National University of Singapore Press, 2007.)

 Spirited Politics:  Religion and Public Life in Contemporary Southeast Asia,  Andrew Willford and Kenneth George, eds.  (Cornell University: SEAP Publications, 2005)


Selected Articles and chapters

“Betrayal, Sacred Landscapes, and Stories of Justice in Malaysia,” DORISEA Working Papers, Issue 22, 2016. ISSN 2196-6893.  University of Gottingen.  


Book Review: “Lost Selves and Lonely Persons: Experiences of Illness and Well-Being among Tamil Refugees in Norway,”  by Anne Gronseth. Medical Anthropology Quarterly spring, 27:2, 2014.


“Cosmopolitan Pasts and Monocultural Futures (?) of a Deccan Metropolis”,  in Perdue, Siu, and Tagliacozzo eds., Asia Inside Out.  (Harvard University Press, 2014)


 “Every Indian is Burning Inside,” in The Abdulla Badawi Years: A retrospective.  Edited by Bridget Welsh.  Petaling Jaya: SIRD., 2013.


“The Letter of the Law and the Reckoning of Justice Among Tamils in Malaysia,” in Encountering Islam: The Politics of Religious Identities in Southeast Asia.  Yew-Foong Hui, ed. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2012.


“The Last Plantations in Kuala Lumpur”, with S. Nagarajan.  in Subaltern Kuala Lumpur, edited by Yeoh Seng Guan.  (forthcoming, Routledge)


“From the margins to centre stage: ‘Indian’ demonstration effects and Malaysia’s political landscape”, Tim Bunnell, S.Nagarajan, and Andrew Willford, Urban Studies: 1-22: 2010.


‘“The Truest Belief is Compulsion”:  Othering and the Unconscious as an Object of Ethnographic Inquiry” (Review essay)  American Ethnologist, Vol 34 N4 (Nov. 2007)


“Ethnic Clashes, Squatters, and Historicity in Malaysia,”  in Rising India and Indians in East Asia, A. Mani and P. Ramasamy, eds., Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Press: Singapore (2008). 


 “The ‘Already Surmounted’, yet ‘Secretly Familiar’: Malaysian Identity as Symptom” Cultural Anthropology, V.21 N.1 Feb. 2006)


“Possession and Displacement in Kuala Lumpur’s Ethnic Landscape”  International Social Science Journal   (2003. ISSJ. N.175). 


 “‘Weapons of the Meek’: Ecstatic Ritualism and Strategic Ecumenism among Tamil-Hindus in Malaysia’,” Identities 9(2)  (2002)

Jeffrey S Rusten

Professor Emeritus



-Philostratus, Heroicus and Gymnasticus (Loeb Classical Library volume, with Jason Koenig) 2014
-The Birth of Comedy: fragments of ancient Greek drama, 500-250 B. C., 2011
-Oxford Readings in Classical Studies: Thucydides 2009.


-Romilly, Jacqueline de. 2012. The mind of Thucydides.  Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter R. Rawlings and Jeffrey Rusten. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
-Mabel Lang, 2011. Thucydidean Narrative and Discourse, eds. Eleanor Dickey, Richard Hamilton and Jeffrey Rusten, Michigan Classical Press.


-(2013) Rusten, J. 2013. "Political discourse and the assembly in four plays of Aristophanes," in M. Quijada Sagredo  and M. C. Encinas Reguero, eds. Retórica y discurso en el teatro griego. (Madrid)  249-60

-(2013) "Δῆλος ἐκινήθη: An “imaginary earthquake” on Delos in Herodotus and Thucydides." Journal of Hellenic Studies

-(2013) "The mirror of Aristophanes: the winged ethnographers of Birds (1470-93, 1553-64, 1694-1705)." In Greek comedy and the discourse of genres. eds. E. Bakola, L. Prauscello and M.  Telò. Chapter 12. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

-(2013)"‘The Odeion on his head:’ Costume and identity in Cratinus’ Thracian Women fr. 73,  and Cratinus’ techniques of political satire." In OPSIS: Studies on the Performative Aspect of Greek and Roman Theatre. eds. George W. M. Harrison and Vayos  Liapis. Brill.

Cynthia Robinson

Mary Donlon Alger Professor


  • academic articles
    • Arthur in the Alhambra? Stories, Pictures and Nasrid Royal Self-Fashioning in the Ceiling Paintings of the Sala de Justicia.  Medieval Encounters.  14:164-198. 2008
    • Introduction to special issue: "Courting The Alhambra: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to the Hall of Justice Ceilings".  Medieval Encounters.  14:153-163. 2008
    • Preaching to the Converted: Valladolid’s ‘Cristianos Nuevos’ and the ‘Retablo de Don Sancho de Rojas (1415 A.D.).  Speculum.  83. 2008
    • Toward a Poetics of Ornament in Granada's Alhambra: Allegorizing Metaphor.  uqarnas XXV.  185-214. 2008
  • books
    • Imagining the Passion in a Multi-Confessional Castile: The Virgin, Christ, Devotions, and Images in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.  Penn State University Press. 2013
    • Three Ladies and A Lover: Mediterranean Courtly Culture through the Text and Images of the “Hadîth Bayâd wa Riyâd.  Routledge. 2006
    • Under the Influence: Questioning the Comparative in Medieval Iberia.  Brill. 2005
    • In Praise of Song: the Making of Courtly Culture in al-Andalus and Provence, 1065-1135 A.D.2002
    • Islamic Art and Literature
  • chapters
    • Genre Switching: The Hadith Bayad wa Riyad and Mediterranean Courtly Narrative in the 13th Century.  Medieval Arabic Story-Telling: Transmission and Receptivity. Ed. Bauden, Frédéric.  Liège, Belgium. 2008
    • Trees of Love, Trees of Knowledge: Toward the Definition of a Cross-Confessional Current in Late-Medieval Iberian Spirituality.  Interrogating Iberian Frontiers: A Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Mudéjar History, Religion, Art and Literature. Ed. Feliciano, María.  2006

Eric Rebillard

Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities



  • The Early Martyr Narratives: Neither Authentic Accounts Nor Forgeries. Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020.
  • Greek and Latin Narratives about the Ancient Martyrs. Oxford Early Christian Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
  • Transformations of Religious Practices in Late Antiquity. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2014.
  • Christians and their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200-450 CE. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012 (paperback 2016).
  • The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009 [English translation of Religion et sépulture: l’Église, les vivants et les morts dans l’Antiquité tardive (IIIe-Ve siècles). Civilisations et sociétés 115. Paris: Éd. de l’EHESS, 2003].
  • Musarna. 3, La nécropole impériale. Collection de l’École française de Rome 415. Rome: École française de Rome, 2009.
  • In hora mortis: évolution de la pastorale chrétienne de la mort aux IVe et Ve siècles dans l’Occident latin. Bibliothèque des Écoles Françaises d’Athènes et de Rome 283. Rome: École française de Rome, 1994.

Edited volumes

  • Group Identity and Religious Individuality in Late Antiquity. Edited by Éric Rebillard and Jörg Rüpke. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2015.
  • Les frontières du profane dans l’Antiquité tardive. Edited by Éric Rebillard and Claire Sotinel. Rome: École française de Rome, 2010.
  • Economie et religion dans l’Antiquité tardive. Edited by Éric Rebillard and Claire Sotinel.  Special issue of Antiquité tardive 14 (2006): 15-116.
  • Hellénisme et christianisme. Edited by Michel Narcy and Éric Rebillard. Lille: Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2004.
  • Orthodoxie, christianisme, histoire = Orthodoxy, christianity, history. Collection de l’École française de Rome 270. Edited by Susanna Elm, Éric Rebillard and Antonella Romano, Rome: École française de Rome, 2000.
  • L’évêque dans la cité du IVe au Ve siècle: image et autorité. Collection de l’École française de Rome 248. Edited by Éric Rebillard and Claire Sotinel. Rome: École française de Rome, 1998.
Subscribe to Religious Studies Program