Devonia and Steve Stein Fellowship in the Study of American Religions
The Department of Religious Studies together with Deborah Pettry have created the Devonia and Steve Stein Fellowship in the Study of American Religions to honor one of the Department’s most beloved teachers.
Who are Devonia and Steve Stein?
Devonia and Steve Stein moved to Bloomington in 1970, when Steve joined the Department of Religious Studies as one of its first junior faculty members, after receiving a PhD in American Religious History from Yale University. In thirty-five years at IU, Steve became one of the university’s most distinguished professors—a reputation officially recognized in 1995, when he was awarded a Chancellor’s Professorship in Teaching and Research and Indiana University's Tracy M. Sonneborn Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research. A two-time recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Steve’s research ranged from the canonical, with particular expertise in Jonathan Edwards leading to his work as the editor of three volumes of the Yale Edition of Edwards’ writings, to the new and disruptive. His comprehensive research on the Shakers inspired influential work on new religious movements and dissenting religious communities in the U.S.
Steve is the recipient of several teaching awards, but the best testimony of the work he did in the classroom comes from former students. Many recall Steve’s renowned introductory classes, including “The Cult Controversy,” “New Religious Movements” and “Religion and Violence,” as well as his extraordinary work ethic and dedication to students. This extended beyond the classroom, as he and Devonia often hosted students in their home. Devonia shared his dedication to students, both from the university and younger, often volunteering in the local public schools. Much of her time was devoted to social action within the larger Bloomington community including serving on the Monroe County Welfare Board and as a Bloomington Human Resources Commission Member. She was active in the Democratic party and served as the Volunteer Coordinator for Tomilea Allison’s successful 1983 and 87 mayoral campaigns.
Throughout the years Devonia and Steve continued to collaborate closely on his research. Their partnership, rooted in the shared interest in religion and education that brought them together when they first met in college, contributed in numerous intangible ways to the culture of the department and deeply influenced the successful work he did during two terms as the Chair of the Department.
Together, Steve and Devonia intertwined their lives with the life of the Department. And as the Department enters a new era, with the hiring of many new faculty members, Steve and Devonia continue to define its character with their warmth and generosity.
What is the Devonia and Steve Stein Fellowship?
The Devonia and Steve Stein Fellowship in the Study of American Religions provides research support to religious studies graduate students working in the Religion in the Americas field. Each year the Fellowship may award up to two fellowships, in the fall and/or spring semester, in the amount of $500 each to graduate students presenting their research at an academic conference or traveling to an archive or other research site for a clearly defined purpose during the 2014-15 academic year or following summer.
What was the Kick Off event?
We were pleased to celebrate the Stein Fellowship kick-off September 6-7, 2013. This event featured conversations with graduates from the department who gathered to share their stories. Friday night's event featured presentation by Deborah Pettry, Nancy Hiller, and Heather Maritano. Festivities continued Saturday morning with a conversation with three of Steve’s former graduate students, Holly Folk, Steve Taysom, and Doug Winiarski.
Holly Folk is a cultural historian who works broadly in the areas of 19th and 20th century American religion. She is especially interested in groups that fall outside the ‘mainstream’, including new religious movements, communes and utopias, Native American religions, and Buddhism in America. Folk has presented papers on the history of chiropractic and religious utopianism. She has written many entries for The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, and her article on 19th century Catholic women appeared in The Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America. Folk is working on a book on early chiropractic and its ties to 19th century alternative medicine, and plans to continue to research how the metaphysical subculture of the Progressive Era responded to questions about science and religion. She teaches courses about religion in the United States and about the study of religion.
Stephen C. Taysom is a professor of religious studies at Cleveland State University. He is the author of Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds: Conflicting Visions, Contested Boundaries and a contributor to Telling the Story of Mormon History. He has published in BYU Studies, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Mormon Historical Studies, and the Western Historical Quarterly. He and his family live in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Doug Winiarski is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Richmond Virginia. He is the author of Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: The Travail of New England Congregationalism, 1680-1770. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, Forthcoming.
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