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International Seminar Series: Shakti, Secularism, and Women’s Roles and Rights in Nepal, February 20

image of the map pf the world painted onto open hands

The International Seminar Series offers the Illinois State University campus and Bloomington-Normal communities weekly opportunities to learn about a wide range of international topics. Guest speakers are experts in their fields across a range of disciplines who cover a wide array of cultural, historical, political, and social topics.

The Spring 2019 series will focus on fostering world religious literacy. The talks are free and open to the public and occur every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bone Student Center.

February 20
Assistant Professor of Religion Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will present “On Dharma and Discrimination in the Twenty-first Century: Hindu Women’s Reflections on Shakti, Secularism, and Women’s Roles and Rights in Nepal” in the Prairie Room.

Birkenholtz is the author of Reciting the Goddess: Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal and co-editor of Religion and Modernity in the Himalaya. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2010.

February 27
“Shinto: The Heart and Soul of Japan” will be presented by Illinois State’s Emeritus Professor of History Louis Perez in the Prairie Room.

Perez has a Ph.D. in Modern Japanese History from the University of Michigan and was recognized as an Outstanding University Researcher in 2013. His research primarily focuses on the history of Japan, both in modern and pre-modern times.

March 6
Hamline University Professor Mark Berkson will present “Understanding Religious Violence: The Importance of Religious Literacy in Meeting the Challenge of Religious Fanaticism and Terrorism” in the Prairie Room.

Berkson, who is chair of the Religion Department, received his Ph.D. in East Asian studies from Stanford University and teaches courses in Asian religion at Hamline University in Minnesota, covering Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Hindu traditions as well as Islam and comparative religion.

March 20
Aaron Pitluck, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Illinois State will present “Meaning Making and Control in Islamic Banking and Finance.”

Pitluck received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the author of “The Convergence Paradox of Islamic Finance: A Sociological Reinterpretation, with Insights for Proponents of Social Finance.” His research interests include “how moral and ethical norms, beliefs, and values influence financial markets” and studies into Islamic investment banks.

March 27
Carole Myscofski, a professor in the Department of Religion at Illinois Wesleyan University, will present “Afro-Brazilian Religions and the Contemporary Roles of Women.”

Myscofski received her Ph.D. in the history of religions from the University of Chicago. She has been both the vice-president and president of the Midwest Regional American Academy of Religion and editor of the AAR Academy Series, published by Oxford University Press. Her interests lie in the religious lives of women in colonial Brazil.

April 3
Patrick Mason, dean and professor of religion in the School of Art and Humanities at Claremont Graduate University, will present “Mormonism: The American Religion or the Next World Religion.”

Mason was the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont University in 2011 and appointed dean of the School of Arts & Humanities in 2016. His specializations include Mormon history and studies, American religious history, and global fundamentalism. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Notre Dame.

April 10
Saskia Beranek, assistant professor in the Illinois State School of Art will present “Image Makers and Image Breakers: Art and Iconoclasm in the Northern Renaissance” in the Prairie Room.

Beranek’s research focuses on Flemish and Dutch art from the Early Modern era, specifically on female artists in the 17th-century Dutch Republic. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

April 17
Qiliang He, associate professor in the Department of History at Illinois State will present “Buddhism in Communist China: Hangzhou as a Case Study” in the Prairie Room.

Quiliang is the author of five books, including Newspapers and the Journalistic Public in Republican China: 1917 as a Significant Year of Journalism and Between Business and Bureaucrats: Pington Storytelling in the 1950s and 1960s. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota.

April 24
Stewart Winger, associate professor in the Department of History at Illinois State will present “What I Learned About the Modern World from Teaching Comparative Global Fundamentalisms” in the Prairie Room.

Stewart received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and was the recipient of the Influential and Inspirational History Faculty Member Award in 2018. He is also currently writing a book titled The Fostering Care of Government: Abraham Lincoln and Internal Improvements.

May 1
Illinois State University Professor Emeritus Janice Neuleib, Ph.D., will present “How Our Students Read Other Religious Cultures” in the Prairie Room.

Neuleib began her career at Illinois State in 1970 and retired in 2012. She aided in the creation of many writing programs on campus, including what is now known as the Visor Center. She has a passion for teaching writing, and has an interest in religious literature, language use and development, and poetry.

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