DSR Undergraduates: Join us on Whiteboard today!

DSR Graduate Students and Faculty: Have you joined our intranet site yet? Sign in for local updates and announcements.

Religion & Society Essay Competition

Essay ad 2Whiteboard is holding an essay competition for students who have written, or would like to write, an essay on the topic of “Religion and Society.” The deadline for this competition is March 21st, 2014 at midnight. The 1st place winner will receive $300, the second place winner will receive $200 and the third place winner will receive $100.

The stylistic requirements are as follows:

  • 2000 words maximum, excluding bibliography and footnotes
  • Chicago style formatting – Proper citations are needed
  • 12 point, Times new roman font
  • Double spaced
  • The essay must be academic in nature, and must cover a topic related to “Religion and Society”
  • You may submit an essay that has been previously submitted for a class project, but not one which has not won another essay competition or has been published

Log on to Whiteboard to view submission procedures. Good luck and happy writing!


DSR celebrates PhD graduates at November convocation

photo: Jodie Boyer and Pamela Klassen

Jodie Boyer receives a hug from supervisor Pamela Klassen

The Department was well represented at the afternoon convocation ceremony on Friday November 15, 2013. Our Chair, John Kloppenborg, served as the Beadle and carried in the ceremonial mace, and Professor Jane McAuliffe (DSR PhD alumna 1984 and Chair of the DSR from 1992-99) received an honorary doctorate. Receiving their PhDs at convocation were our very own Jodie Boyer, Shari Golberg, Alex Green, Smita Kothari and Rick Last – congratulations!

Click the picture to see a slideshow of photos from the day, taken by current MA student Amy Clanfield.

photo: Jane McAuliffe

Jane McAuliffe

photo: John Kloppenborg

John Kloppenborg acts as Beadle at convocation

photo: Alex Green & Shari Golberg

Alex Green (L) & Shari Golberg (R)

photo: Smita Kothari

Smita Kothari

photo: Rick Last

Rick Last

photo: Jennifer Harris and John Marshall

Jennifer Harris and John Marshall after convocation

Whiteboard social networking site launched for undergraduates

Whiteboard Meet and Greet event

Whiteboard Meet and Greet event

Last night’s Whiteboard Meet & Greet was a great success! Students and professors from the Religion and History departments celebrated the launch of the academically-oriented social networking site for U of T students in the two units. Developed by a team of students and Profs Frances Garrett & Matt Price, Whiteboard is a site where students can set up a profile, meet others in their departments, read and write blog posts and course reviews, and ask questions of peers and professors. The pilot project is funded by an Arts & Science Instructional Technology Initiative Fund and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

The Jane Trombley Undergraduate Scholarship, and The Jane Trombley Graduate Scholarship in the Department for the Study of Religion.

The department is pleased to announce that, through the generosity of Gaye Trombley and in memory of her sister, Jane Trombley, two new scholarships have been established for students in the Department for the Religion. Jane was a mature student who, after a career in the arts and business, entered University to pursue studies in religion. She took several courses in religion, and worked extensively with Leslie Hayes, pursuing her interests in the study of mediaeval and early modern witchcraft.

Jane Trombley Scholarships creation

L-R: Ms. Pamela LaForge; Prof. Pamela Klassen; Ms. Gaye Trombley; Prof. John S. Kloppenborg; Prof. Leslie Hayes; Ms. Barbara Track

The Jane Trombley Undergraduate Scholarship will be awarded to an undergraduate student with financial need who has completed the Millie Shime Rotman Academic Bridging Program in Woodsworth College. Preference will be given to students who are not eligible for the Ontario Student Assistance Program and who are taking religion courses or pursuing a program in the Department for the Study of Religion.

The Jane Trombley Graduate Scholarship, which has been created under the Provost’s program of matching donor funds, will be awarded on the basis of academic merit to a PhD student enrolled in the Department for the Study of Religion. Financial need will be also considered.

Six Doctoral Dissertation Defences in Less Than Three Weeks

photograph of dissertationThe Department for the Study of Religion would like to congratulate the students below for successfully defending their  dissertations. We also thank their supervisors and committee members for the support and guidance they have provided them throughout their program.

Sarah Rollens, Friday August 30th, “Framing Social Criticism in the Jesus Movement: The Ideological Project in the Sayings Gospel Q”, Supervisor: John Kloppenborg, Committee Members: John Marshall, Joseph Bryant.

Shari Golberg, Tuesday September 9th, “When Beruriah Met Aisha: Textual Intersections and Interactions among Jewish and Muslim Women Engaged with Religious Law”, Supervisor: Robert Gibbs, Committee Members: Pamela Klassen, Anver Emon.

Jodie Boyer, Thursday September 12th, “Sin and Sanity in Nineteenth-Century America”, Supervisor: Pamela Klassen, Committee Members: David Novak, Phyllis Airhart.

Tim Langille, Thursday September 12th, “Reshaping the Persistent Past: A Study of Collective Trauma and Memory in Second Temple Judaism”, Supervisor: Hindy Najman, Committee Members: John Marshall, Doris Bergen.

Smita Kothari, Friday September 13th, “Dāna and Dhyāna in Jaina Yoga: A Case Study of Prekṣādhyāna and the Terāpanth”, Co-Supervisors: Christoph Emmrich, Stephen Scharper, Committee Member: Srilata Raman

Rick Last, Tuesday September 17th, “Money, Meals, and Honour: The Economic and Honorific Organization of the Corinthian Ekklesia”, Supervisor: John Kloppenborg, Committee Members: John Marshall, Andreas Bendlin


Congratulations Sarah, Shari, Tim, Jodie, Smita and Rick, and all our very best wishes for the future.

Spring Newsletter, 2012-13

From the Acting Chair, James DiCenso

After serving as Chair from 2002 to 2007, I spent the next five years, besides teaching and working with graduate students, mainly hunkered down trying to complete a book project on Immanuel Kant’s approach to religion with which I had been preoccupied for years. This ended up becoming two books, one published in 2011 (Kant, Religion, and Politics) and the other in 2012 (Kant’s Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason: a Commentary). Just as the second book was going into production, I was asked to fill in for the year while John Kloppenborg enjoyed a well-deserved sabbatical before returning for another five year term as Chair. The timing was right and, given John’s outstanding service to the Department, I couldn’t say no; hence I ended up back as Acting Chair for 2012-13.

It was an unusually intense year, particularly because of the external review being conducted, three UTSG and 2 UTM tenure cases, and shared searches in South Asian Religious Literatures with Historical Studies UTM, and Modern Hebrew with Jewish Studies. In fact, the final procedure for the external review occurred just the day prior to my writing this (April 16th), where the report and Decanal response were discussed at Governing Council. Both John Kloppenborg and I were present, in case there were questions or concerns, but the review was so positive we weren’t called upon at all. Indeed, it was a pleasure to see that we were assessed as “extremely successful, innovative, interdisciplinary … formidable.” Among the many strengths and achievements noted, the reviewers called us “a high quality Department that could serve as a model for others,” stated that our programs “make a necessary contribution to the Faculty’s goal of advancing a liberal education,” and that we have “one of the richest sets of course offerings in N. America.” At the graduate level, we were described as “a great program with areas of world-wide excellence.” To be sure, there are areas where we will need to continue to develop and grow, but we now have a strong basis for doing so.

Overall, it was a great pleasure to see how the Department had evolved and improved since 2002, and to get a better sense of the wide range of outstanding work being done by our colleagues. It was a particular pleasure to see people whom I had been involved in hiring (or whose positions I had designed) now excelling as scholars and teachers, receiving tenure and promotion, and in some cases serving as administrators. If I tried to name all those who had major achievements in the past year, who deserve special recognition, or who stepped up with extra service contributions when the need was so great, it would be overwhelming (and most of these are detailed within this Newsletter in any case). Hence I’ll restrict myself to thanking John Kloppenborg for his continued advice and support while he was on leave, Arti Dhand for her outstanding work as Associate Chair, and Jennifer Harris for her unparalleled contributions as Director of Graduate Studies. Finally, Irene Kao, Marilyn Colaco, and Fereshteh Hashimi were stellar in their administrative roles (and yes, the external reviewers did take note of our “extremely dedicated staff”).

Download the 2012-13 Newsletter