WSRP Announces 2016–17 Research Associates

March 16, 2016
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Their research spans history, religions, and academic fields, and next year, five new Research Associates will join the Women's Studies in Religion Program at HDS to work on book-length projects. The diverse topics range from queer theory and environmental studies to sexual violence and gender identity.

By bringing together scholars from different disciplines and research areas, commonalities in religion and gender emerge. While working on their projects, the WSRP Research Associates teach a one-semester course and deliver a lecture on their research.

2016–17 Research Associates

Gwynn Kessler, 2016–17 WSRP Research AssociateGwynn Kessler

Visiting Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Rabbinics

Gwynn Kessler is an associate professor of religion and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program Coordinator at Swarthmore College. Her project, "The Crooked and the Straight: Queer Theory and Rabbinic Literature," will bring current theories about gender and the body together with rabbinic traditions. It will seek to expose the complexity of constructions of gender and the body in late antiquity while attending to both the overlaps as well as divergences between constructions of gender and the body then and now.

Rosalyn R. LaPier, 2016–17 WSRP Research AssociateRosalyn R. LaPier

Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and Environmental Studies and Native American Religion
Colorado Scholar

Rosalyn R. LaPier (Blackfeet/Métis) is an environmental historian, ethnobotanist, writer, and popular public speaker on traditional environmental knowledge and American Indian religion and activism. She is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana. She is also a Research Associate with the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. While at HDS, she will continue work on "Plants That Purify: The Natural and Supernatural History of Smudging," in which she explores the concept of purity in historic Blackfeet (Amskapi Piikuni) society. The Blackfeet believed human purity was required before interacting with the supernatural world and that women and the use of certain plants played different roles helping humans achieve that purity.

Taylor Grant Petrey, ThD '10, 2016–17 WSRP Research AssociateTaylor Grant Petrey, ThD '10

Visiting Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Sexuality

Taylor Petrey, ThD '10 is the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Associate Professor of Religion at Kalamazoo College and is director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality program. His research while at the WSRP, titled, "Divining Gender: Mormonism and Sexual Difference," will be a historical and theological treatment that explores the instability of male and female, homosexual and heterosexual, in the Mormon tradition.

Chin-ning Wang (Changshen Shih), 2016–17 WSRP Research AssociateChangshen Shi (Ching-ning Wang)

Lecturer on Women's Studies and Chinese Religion

Changshen Shi (Ching-ning Wang) is an adjunct Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts and a Bhikshuni at the Dharma Drum Institute in Taiwan. She teaches Women and Contemporary Buddhism, Theory and Practice of Buddhist Meditation, and Chan/Zen. While at HDS, she will be working on a project titled, "The Making of a Modern Female Chan Teacher: Gender, Religion, and Modernity," which explores an understudied phenomenon of women's religious practice in contemporary Buddhism—the making of modern female Chan teachers. It will focus on the lives of women who practice Chan in an organizationally modernized monastery, and their institutional training as well as outreach experience.

2016–17 Visiting Scholar

Lynne GerberLynne Gerber

Visiting Scholar of Women's Studies and Christianity

During the first two decades of the AIDS epidemic, the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, a gay/lesbian congregation, engaged AIDS as a religious issue.  Her book, A Church Alive: AIDS and the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, tells the story of the church and the women leaders who shaped theological as well as practical responses to the epidemic.

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