In addition to inviting leading scholars to Pitt for public lectures and conferences, Religious Studies organizes talks and conversations specifically for our undergraduate and graduate students.
Students in Jewish Culture and Medieval Spain read the newly published novel By Fire, By Water, set in fifteenth-century Spain, and then enjoyed a visit by its author, Mitchell James Kaplan.
As part of our regular instruction on the History of the Holocaust, students are introduced to local Holocaust survivors. In spring 2008, students were fascinated by the first-hand narratives of Fritz Ottenheimer (b. Constanz, Germany) and Irene Furst (b. Lodz, Poland).
Tempa Dukte Lama of the Bon Tibetan Buddhist tradition spoke to our undergraduate seminar on Death and Beyond in Buddhist Cultures about death rituals and the "Great Liberation on Hearing" in February 2008.
Mysticism East and West regularly includes two guest speakers. In February 2008, Radu Boreianu, Professor of Theology, Duquesne University, spoke on "One Hundred Chapters on Love" by St. Maximos, and Dr. V. Dharmarajan of the Sri Venkateswara (SV) Hindu Temple discussed "The Bhagavad-gita in light of the Advaita Vedanta."
Students in Israel—State and Society enjoyed a conversation with an Israeli foreign service officer in fall 2007.
Lucia Dolce, Senior Lecturer of Japanese Religion, Department of the Study of Religion, and Director of the Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, spoke to our undergraduates about “The Worship of Celestial Bodies in Japan: Politics, Rituals and Icons,” in November 2007.
Our undergraduate majors were treated to a talk on “The Lost Gospels of Judas (and other Gnostic Gospels)” by Bart Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in March 2007.
Ted Burger, who was at Pitt screening his new documentary film called Amongst White Clouds, chronicling the lives of Buddhist hermit monks in the Zhongnan Mountains of China, spoke to our undergraduate students about his five-year experience living and studying with these monks, and spent an afternoon discussing ethnographic and documentary fieldwork with graduate students in our Ethnography seminar in March 2007.
Ian Reader, Professor of Japanese Studies and Director of the Japan Centre, Manchester University (UK), spoke to our undergraduate students about Aum Shinrikyō, the group responsible for the 1995 sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway system, and spent an afternoon discussing Japanese pilgrimage with graduate students in our Ethnography seminar in February 2007.
Our Senior Capstone seminar enjoyed a conversation with Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, Raether Distinguished Professor of History, Trinity College, about Black-Jewish relations in February 2007.
Our graduate students were treated to a conversation about new directions in Renaissance studies with Carlo Ginzburg, Franklin D. Murphy Professor of Italian Renaissance Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, in January 2007.
Our graduate students enjoyed an afternoon with Russell T. McCutcheon, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Alabama, discussing “The Limits of the Humanistic Study of Religion” in December 2006.