Religion Program Events

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Rob DeCaroli (Religion Lecture)

Location: TBA
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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Jacob Neusner Memorial Lecture in Jewish and Religious Studies

Thursday, October 24th at 4:45pm in Olin 102

"The Biblical Book of Samuel and the Birth of Politics: Two Faces of Political Violence"
The Book of Samuel is universally acknowledged as one of the supreme achievements of biblical literature. Yet the book's anonymous author was more than an inspired storyteller. The author was also an uncannily astute observer of political life and the moral compromises and contradictions that the struggle for power inevitably entails. The lecture will explore the ways in which the book of Samuel understands political violence political violence unleashed by the sovereign on his own subjects as it is rooted in the paranoia of the isolated ruler and the deniability fostered by hierarchical action through proxies.

Sunday, October 27th at 7PM
The Sixth Street Community Synagogue
325 E. Sixth Street
New York, NY

"Confronting Loss: The Meaning and Experience of Mourning form the Talmud to Maimonides"
The experience of loss and mourning is a painful and ultimately inescapable feature of human life. Jewish law established practices of mourning that prescribe a rather detailed structure of the mourner’s conduct as well as the response of the community to the mourner and its obligation to provide consolation. Maimonides codified this body of regulations in his great code of Jewish Law, the Mishneh Torah, in the section titled “The Laws of Mourning.” This lecture will focus on the attempt to understand the meaning and practice of mourning in the Talmudic tradition and in Maimonides’ thought. It will explore the relationship of the concept of mourning in the Jewish tradition to other understandings of the dynamics of mourning such as Freud’s seminal essay “Mourning and Melancholia.
Location: at 4:45pm in Olin 102 & Sunday, October 27th at 7PM at The Sixth Street Community Synagogue
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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Israel’s Occupation at 50: Territory and Demography in the West Bank

Yinon Cohen is Yosef H. Yerushalmi Professor of Israeli and Jewish Studies in the department of sociology at Columbia University.  Before moving to Columbia in 2007, he was a professor of sociology and labor studies at Tel Aviv University. His research focuses on labor markets, social demography, ethnic inequality, and immigration. His most recent publications are on Israel’s territorial and demographic politics (Public Culture, 2018), Ashkenazi-Mizrahi education gap among third-generation Israelis (Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 2018), and rising inequality in fringe benefits in the US (Sociological Science 2018).
Time: 4:45 pm – 6:00 pm
Location: Olin, Room 102
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Past Events



Monday, December 4, 2017

Monuments and Iconoclasm in the Era of Fake News

Matthew Lynch, Visiting Professor at Bard

Olin 301  5:30 pm
The talk will use Michael Taussig’s discussion of the “public secret” in his book, Defacement, as a framing device to analyze issues of contemporary interest. Recent examples of monument destruction, national anthem protests, and other examples related to the topic will be displayed and discussed.

After, join us for a Religion Program Open House. Come discuss the critical study of religion in the liberal arts, learn about majoring and minoring in the Religion Program. We'll discuss course offerings, moderation, and highlights of the major.

Refreshments will be served.
Sponsored by: Hannah Arendt Center; Human Rights Project; Political Studies Program; Religion Program
Contact: Shai Secunda  845-758-6822
  Friday, November 10, 2017

Safe Spaces as Modern Sanctuary

Chapel of the Holy Innocents  12:30 pm
Karin Roslund and Mehgan Abdel-Moneim

followed by an interview with

Henry O'Donnell from "Sanctuary: Theology and Social Action" (REL 358) and general discussion
Sponsored by: Institute of Advanced Theology
Contact: Bruce Chilton  845-758-6822
  Monday, November 6, 2017

Does Literature Disclose the Sacred?

Dr. Matthew Mutter
Bard College

Olin 301  5:30 pm
Matthew Mutter is assistant professor of English at Bard College. His book Restless Secularism: Modernism and the Religious Inheritance was recently published by Yale University Press.
Sponsored by: Religion Program
Contact: Shai Secunda   845-758-7389
  Friday, November 3, 2017

Student Initiatives in Sanctuary Movements 
and the Rights of Undocumented Students

Olivia Terzian and Acacia Handel 
from Organizing for Undocumented Students' Rights

Alicia Rodriguez, from Million Hoodies Bard 

followed by an interview with Lila Klaus
from "Sanctuary: Theology and Social Action" (REL 358)

Chapel of the Holy Innocents  12:30 pm
Olivia and Acacia, as two of the heads of OUSR, will be presenting on the creation and history of the Bard Sanctuary Fund, the goals and the trajectory of OUSR, and their perspective as student leaders in immigration justice. Alicia Rodriguez will also be contributing to that conversation, as well as talking about her work with Million Hoodies and the various other Bard student initiatives she is a part of.

The Institute of Advanced Theology sponsors the event as a continuation of the autumn series on Sanctuary. 
Sponsored by: Religion Program
Contact: Bruce Chilton  845-758-6822
  Monday, October 23, 2017

"Other Worlds: An Evening with Poets Michael Ives and Yehoshua November"

Yehoshua November & Michael Ives
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium  5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Sponsored by: Jewish Studies Program; Religion Program; Written Arts Program
Contact: Shai Secunda  845-758-7667
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Recently, Under the Bodhi Tree:  New Female Ordination in Tibetan Buddhism

Janet Gyatso
Associate Dean of Faculty & Academic Affairs
Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies, Harvard Divinity School

Hegeman 102  4:30 pm
This talk will present the speaker’s perceptions and experiences at the recent nuns ordination ceremony, held at the Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Temple in India in March 2017, under the direction of the current H. H. Gyalwa Karmapa.  It will contextualize this exciting event in light of the larger female ordination movement in contemporary Buddhism.
Sponsored by: Anthropology Program; Asian Studies Program; Religion Program
Contact: Dominique Townsend  845-758-7389
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Middle Eastern Studies 
Open House 

Kline, Faculty Dining Room  5:00 pm
Come celebrate the end of the year with fellow MESers. Meet faculty, hear about exciting new courses, study abroad programs, senior projects, and a number of incredible iniatives MES students are working on. Snacks will be served. All are welcome.
Sponsored by: Middle Eastern Studies Program
Contact: Dina Ramadan  845-758-7506
  Monday, May 8, 2017

The Colloquium on Religion invites you to its final public session of the semester:

Olin, Room 102  5:30 pm
Shai Secunda, Jacob Neusner Associate Professor of the History and Theology will speak to the title "A Sea of Text: The Formation of the Talmud and the Zoroastrian Tradition in Late Antiquity."
Sponsored by: Religion Program
Contact: Bruce Chilton  845-758-7335
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Make it New": New Possibilities for Classical Jewish Texts in Scholarship and Culture

Yellow Room in the campus center and RKC 103  1:15 pm – 7:30 pm
I. New Connections: The Talmud and the Contemporary Humanities - a Workshop
Location: The Yellow Room in the Campus Center (1:15-4:45pm)

Featuring leading scholars of Jewish studies in dialogue with Bard students and faculty.

II. "Make it New": Classical Jewish Texts and Artistic Imagination
Location: RKC 103 (4:45-6:15pm)

Nicole Krass: Novelist, author of The History of Love (2005) and Great House (2010)
Adam Kirsh: Poet and critic
Galit-Hasan-Rokem: Scholar, poet, and translator.

III. Jewish Studies and the Liberal Arts: Institutional Possibilities
Location: RKC 103 (6:30-7:30pm)

Featuring President Leon Botstein, Bruce Chilton, and Alan Avery-Peck.
Sponsored by: Anthropology Program; Bard Theater Program; Hebrew and Theater program with the generous support of the World Union of Jewish Studies; Historical Studies Program; Jewish Studies Program; Literature Program; Religion Program; Written Arts Program
Contact: Shai Secunda  845-758-6822
Friday, April 21, 2017

Impermanence: Sand Mandala

Closing Ceremony and Procession to waterfall:
Friday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m.

RKC Lobby  10:00 am
The Venerable Lama Tenzin Yignen, Tibetan Buddhist monk from the Dalai Lama's home monastery Namgyal and Professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will install a sand mandala, a "cosmic diagram that represents the dwelling place or "celestial mansion" of the Buddha of Compassion, over the course of five days. Just when it is complete, the mandala will be ritually cut, swept together, and taken in procession down to the river in this performed lesson on impermanence.
Sponsored by: Asian Studies Program; Religion Program; Warren Mills Hutcheson Memorial Fund
Contact: Richard Davis  845-758-7364
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Yoga in America: The State of Play

Hegeman 102  4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Panel discussion on the past, present, and future
of yoga in the United States.  Featuring Barbara Boris and Sondra Loring, longtime practitioners and teachers of yoga.Moderated by Richard Davis
Sponsored by: Religion Program
Contact: Richard Davis  845-758-7364
  Thursday, March 30, 2017

God Behind Bars: The Rise of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in an Age of Mass Incarceration

Campus Center, Weis Cinema  6:00 pm
Tanya Erzen
Associate Professor, University of Puget Sound
Director, Freedom Education Project Puget Sound
In prisons throughout the United States, punitive incarceration and religious revitalization are occurring simultaneously. Faith-based prison ministries operate under the logic that religious conversion and redemption will transform prisoners into new human beings. Why are Christian prison ministries on the rise amidst an increasingly punitive system of mass incarceration? How do people in prison practice religion in a space of coercion and discipline? What are theimplications of the state's promotion of Christianity over other religious traditions in some prisons? And, why have conservative Christians, particularly, embraced criminal justice reform?
Sponsored by: American Studies Program; Anthropology Program; Bard Prison Initiative; Religion Program
Contact: Laura Kunreuther  845-758-6822
  Monday, March 13, 2017

"Nonconceptual Awareness and Buddhist Meditation"

Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium  4:00 pm
John Spackman
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Middlebury College
In some parts of the Buddhist tradition, meditation and other Buddhist practices are viewed as leading to a state of non-conceptual awareness (nirvikalpajñāna) that is different from our ordinary conceptual mode of awareness. In this presentation I seek to understand the nature of this non-conceptual awareness, draw on several different models of it, and consider several challenges faced by these models. I propose an alternative model of non-conceptual awareness that locates it in a form of non-dual awareness.
Sponsored by: Philosophy Program; Religion Program
Contact: Kritika Yegnashankaran  845-758-7393
Monday, March 6, 2017

Sikhism in America

Olin, Room 102  5:30 pm
Gurinder Singh Mann
Emeritus Professor of Sikh Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
 One of the world’s foremost authorities on the Sikh tradition, Gurinder Singh Mann is a historian and former professor of Sikh and Punjab Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published widely on Sikh history, scripture, and literature. His books include Sikhism, The Making of Sikh Scripture, and Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs in America.
Sponsored by: Asian Studies Program; Religion Program
Contact: Richard Davis  845-758-7364
Monday, February 27, 2017

Iberian Conversion and the Liberal Arts

Olin, Room 102  5:30 pm
Seth Kimmel
Assistant Professor of Latin and Iberian Cultures
Columbia University
 Diverse groups of lawyers, linguists, historians, and economists, among other communities of intellectuals, offered their opinions on the legitimacy and legacy of the early modern history of forced conversion to Christianity in the Iberian world. As I have argued in my recent book, Parables of Coercion (Chicago 2015), to participate in these debates about religious coercion and New Christian discipline was also to re-imagine the relationship among the scholarly disciplines themselves. Linking my book project to new research, my talk examines the late sixteenth-century taxonomies of knowledge that emerged from this particularly Iberian intellectual history and, more generally, the rhetoric of universality that characterizes the liberal arts in the early as well as the late modern periods.
Sponsored by: Religion Program, Division of Languages and Literature, LAIS Program, Middle Eastern Studies Program
Contact: Tehseen Thaver  845-758-7207
  Monday, February 20, 2017

"Divinely Created: Judaism through a transgender lens"

Olin Language Center, Room 115  7:30 pm
Sponsored by: Chaplaincy; Gender and Sexuality Studies Program; JSO; Jewish Studies Program; Religion Program
Contact: David Nelson  845-758-7438
  Monday, February 20, 2017

Conversion, Memory, and the Limits of Early Islamic History

Olin, Room 102  5:30 pm
Travis Zadeh
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Yale University

This talk explores the cultural, linguistic, and mythological dimensions shaping religious conversion among Persians in the wake of the seventh-century Arab conquests. It further interrogates what this process of conversion reveals for the memory of early Islamic history and the spread of Islam along the eastern frontiers.
Sponsored by: Religion Program, Division of Languages and Literature, Historical Studies Program, Middle Eastern Studies Program
Contact: Tehseen Thaver  845-758-7207
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Running from the Literary Past: The Case of Hebrew Literature

A conversation with Israeli-American novelist, Ruby Namdar, and Professor of Hebrew Literature, Haim Weiss.
Olin Language Center, Room 115  4:45 pm

This conversation with Ruby Namdar ("The Ruined House," Winner of 2015 Sapir Prize, English translation due out in 2017) and Haim Weiss (Ben Gurion University of the Negev) will explore universal literary themes of canon and breach, and consider the challenges of writing a contemporary novel in an "anxiety producing" language like Hebrew. We will also look at examples of Namdar's "translation" of ancient sources into a modern literary imaginary, and English translations of Namdar's work.

Moderated by Shai Secunda (Bard, Religion and Jewish Studies)
Sponsored by: Hebrew; Jewish Studies Program; Literature Program; Middle Eastern Studies Program; Religion Program; Written Arts Program
Contact: Shai Secunda  845-758-6822
  Monday, February 6, 2017

"Cultivating a Field of Merit: Pedagogy and Performance in a Buddhist Curriculum of Study"

Dominique Townsend
Assistant Professor of Religion
Bard College

Olin, Room 102  5:30 pm
Sponsored by: Religion Program
Contact: Bruce Chilton  845-758-7335