2021 Fall DSR Newsletter

Message from the Chair

Pamela Klassen

Dear DSR Members & Friends,

Welcome to our 2021 Newsletter. We’ve had a year of many changes and challenges, along with significant accomplishments worth celebration. As you’ll see below, we’ve had a banner year of research awards for faculty and graduate students, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Jackman Humanities Institute, and the Trudeau Foundation. The DSR is a leader among the Faculty of Arts & Science in the numbers of our Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada research grants, the latest of which you can read about below. And DSR members continue to win prizes and accolades for their excellent books and articles. We have gained three new faculty members this year, Suleyman Dost, Rory Lindsay, and Sarah Gallant, and look forward to welcoming three more in the coming months: Ronald Charles, Nyasha Junior, and Jeremy Schipper.

Our research achievements are only part of the story. We’re working on renewing our undergraduate curriculum and building our undergraduate enrolments, to ensure that as many A&S students as possible experience the benefits of a study of religion education. The fruits of this are already apparent in the growing numbers of students in many of our courses—for example, enrolments have doubled in both sections of our core second-year course and over 300 students have signed up for a new first-year course, “Happiness,” which Kevin O’Neill will teach with a team of TAs in the depths of winter! Our cohort of new PhD and MA students includes students from Canada and around the world—including India, Hong Kong, Nigeria—and happily we’ve been able to welcome them to in-person classes. We honoured 12 PhD and MA graduates during our November convocation celebration in an online gathering of faculty, students, family, and friends.

As we continue to work under the restrictions that COVID-19 has brought to our lives, I want to thank all the DSR faculty and teaching assistants for their commitment to students, whether teaching online or in-person. I also want to thank the student leaders from the Graduate Student Association and the Religion Undergraduate Student Association for their exceptional dedication. None of the achievements of the DSR could happen without our remarkable staff. As you can read below, over the past year we’ve gained four excellent new staff members, while also saying goodbye to our long-serving and beloved Undergraduate Coordinator, Marilyn Colaço, who retired last spring.

We look forward to the time when we can welcome alumni and friends back to the DSR to celebrate and catch up. The 50th anniversary of the establishment of the department is coming up in 2023-24, which seems like a great time for a party. In the shorter term, please be in touch if you have ideas for how to support the ongoing work of the DSR. As the recent gift from the Levman family in support of the study of Pali shows, DSR alumni and friends are key to generating new research initiatives and building community for students and faculty alike. Please send us your news and stay tuned for opportunities to engage with DSR events online. I’m always happy to hear from you!

— Pamela Klassen FRSCProfessor & Chair of the Department for the Study of Religion


Amira Mittermaier and Kevin Lewis O'Neill

Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships for Amira Mittermaier and Kevin O’Neill – awarded to those who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship. → Read more

Discover DSR Courses

Discover DSR Courses: Sanskrit as coding, uncovering religion in graphic novels, religion and anthropology meet (again) in a pandemic, how the Bible could have turned out and biohacking breath - all this and more. → Read more

DSR Videos

DSR Videos: Watch a new series of short videos about the DSR, its people and the amazing range of topics that the study of religion covers, plus listen to department members on the radio and making and guesting on podcasts. → Read more

New Faculty & Other Appointments

New Faculty & Other Appointments: Faculty, postdocs and staff, plus tenure and administrative appointments. → Read more

Honours & Awards

Honours & Awards: A cluster of SSHRC Insight Grants for faculty projects, teaching awards and an impressive number of fellowships and honours for DSR members. → Read more

Books & Articles

The Write Stuff: Recent publications, including books, articles and blog pieces: Our faculty and students are publishing widely. Topics include the civil religiosity of the ice rink, street preaching and traffic, antisemitism, Pentecostal drug rehabilitation, and HBO’s Lovecraft County. → Read more

Helen's Bench

Helen’s Bench: In 2017 we lost a very dear member of our graduate community, Helen Mo. To honour her and her work, a scholarship was created, and a bench has been dedicated to her memory in Philosopher’s Walk, one of her favourite spots. → Read more

Book cover - Key Concepts in Antisemitism

A Q&A with Sol Goldberg on his book Key Concepts in the Study of Antisemitism, which moves to a different way of helping students make sense of antisemitism’s phenomena, to let them see it in ways not shown in considering its history chronologically. → Read more

smiley face

People have been trying to be happy for thousands of years, and we are no different. Kevin Lewis O’Neill’s new first-year course, RLG106H1 “Happiness,” is proving hugely popular with students hungry for a sustained conversation about life’s purpose. → Read more

Cayuga chief Deskaheh

Cayuga Chief Deskaheh (aka Levi General) was the first Indigenous person to seek recognition for the Six Nations council at the League of Nations in 1924. Kevin White’s project is transcribing documents related to his historic impact. → Read more

Fireworks celebration

Celebrating the newest DSR graduates! Congratulations to our graduating classes of spring and fall 2021. → Read more

University of Toronto sign

Our community: News and memories of DSR alumni and friends. → Read more