Submissions being accepted for the new Undergraduate journal Invocations
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Undergraduate Gallagher essay contest:

Graduate Essay Contest:


Senior religious studies major Sarah Kissel was awarded the 2017 Honor Thesis Prospectus Prize for “Poetic Architecture, Communal Space.”

Kissel's prospectus (“Poetic Architecture, Communal Space”) for her study of "concrete poetics" that can create space for human-divine encounters represents a sophisticated analysis of space-making practices in Calvinist culture. By interrogating the complex relationship between text and materiality, this thesis sits at the intersection of several disciplines, such as Religious Studies, Literary Theory, and Spatial Theory. This thesis will contribute a new understanding of how space plays an important function for a worshipper's pious engagement with God.


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 2016-17 academic year or following summer. Previous recipients may apply. Students interested in applying should submit a proposal that is no longer than 1,000 words, along with a current c.v., by February 17, 2017 to Funding decisions will be announced by March 1, 2017.

IU Ethics Bowl Team Prepares to Compete at National Championship

Bloomington, IN – February 13, 2017

Indiana University’s Ethics Bowl team will travel to Dallas, Texas, on February 26, to compete for the intercollegiate national championship. The team qualified for the national championship tournament based on its showing at the Central States Regional Ethics Bowl held at Marian University in Indianapolis in November. Their entry into the tournament in Dallas will be IU Ethics Bowl’s third consecutive trip to the national championship tournament.

The IU Ethics Bowl team has been helmed for those three years by coach Joe Bartzel, a PhD candidate in IU’s Department of Religious Studies who also serves as the Central States region’s representative on the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl board. In his remarks to the assembled competitors at the Central States competition in November, Bartzel reflected on the importance of the Ethics Bowl competition: “We’ve just concluded one of the most contentious and divisive presidential elections in our nation’s history. College students coming together to engage in civil discourse is an important and inspiring response to that divisiveness.”

Joining Bartzel on the coaching staff this year is Sarah Adams, a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy. Regarding the team’s preparation for the national competition, Adams said, “The biggest challenge is having more cases to cover in a shorter time frame, but the students are putting in a great deal of work every week.” Discussing the team’s approach to case preparation, team captain Alex Johnson added, “A foundation of ethical understanding is integral to navigating these complex decisions to arrive at a result that is not only fair but just.” Since 2016, IU Ethics Bowl has been housed in the Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) program. PACE Director Sandra Shapshay says she is “excited to have the PACE program housing the team this year because Ethics Bowl develops a student’s ability to think through ethically vexing real-world cases, with a background in ethical theories that helps them develop truly principled stances on issues of public importance. It is excellent preparation for thoughtful and engaged citizenship.”

Team members agree that participating in the Ethics Bowl program has been a valuable and challenging experience. Lauren Meadows said, “Ethics Bowl has made me a more thoughtful person and has encouraged me to always question the status quo.” Meadows’s thoughts were echoed by her teammate Elaina Roach: “I learn more about ethics and about the world, and feel that Ethics Bowl makes me a more aware, informed and engaged citizen.” Team member Tom Sweeney added, “Ethics Bowl is a chance to tackle real-world ethical problems. I appreciate the teamwork, the critical thinking and the belief in reasoned discourse.”

Since its founding in 2001, IU’s Ethics Bowl team has won two national championships and three regional championships. In addition to being housed in the PACE program, IU Ethics Bowl receives sponsorship from the Office of the Provost, the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Philosophy, the Hutton Honors College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Business Law and Ethics in the Kelley School of Business.

Mary Jo Weaver Scholarships winner announced

It is our pleasure to announce that the Fall 2016 Weaver scholarship has been awarded to Sam Stubblefield. Sam hails from Tennessee and has a double major in Religious Studies and Classical Studies. He spent the 2015–16 academic year studying abroad at Oxford University in England, and is currently writing an honors thesis on how interactions between sermons and space in Augustine’s preaching shaped the ways Christians imagined themselves in late antiquity.

The Mary Jo Weaver Undergraduate Scholarship Program is intended to provide ongoing support in the amount of $500 per year to one of two Religious Studies majors. Funds are available so long as the awardee continues to matriculate at IUB as a Religious Studies major and maintains a GPA of 3.5 in RS courses, and 3.0 overall. These awards are discretionary, and may not be awarded every year.


Invocations is an academic journal and online interactive platform for critical religious discourse. Furnished by undergraduate contributions, we hope to provide an opportunity for Indiana University students to engage across the traditional boundaries of specified fields of study and participate in interdisciplinary conversations on topics with a divine common denominator. It features an array of short articles, ethnographic reviews, creative works, and community response, the collection of which aims to foster a rewardingly interactive intellectual experience.

Editors Rachel Carpenter and Sarah Kissel welcome submissions of all sorts. New content is published on the first of every month, and those interested are advised to submit pieces by the second Friday of each month to allow time for review and discussion. Like Invocations on Facebook and follow on Twitter (@invocations_RS) for publications, news, and opportunities to engage in conversation with professors in the discourse section. Please send submissions to, and feel free to direct any questions or comments to that address, or Sarah and Rachel directly. Visit for more information!

Other news from 2016

PhD student Nicolò Sassi is published in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies

Jacob Boss reflects on bringing Jane Ward to campus

Graduate student Rowena Galavitz has a blog covering Renaissance Perspectives. Check it out!

Recent grad Annie Brackemyre reflects on her time studying HIV/AIDS in Uganda

Undergrad John Holt seranades at Student Recognition Day

IU Ethics Bowl Team Advances to Quarterfinals of National Championship


Bloomington, IN – The IU Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team placed as quarterfinalists in the national championship held in Reston, Virginia, on February 21. Thirty-six teams competed at this year’s competition, with the top eight teams advancing to the elimination stage. IU went a perfect 3–0 in group competition, notching wins against St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Macalester College and Tufts University before being eliminated in the quarterfinals by Oklahoma Christian University. After IU’s defeat, Whitworth University went on to win their first ever national championship.

IU qualified for the national championship competition with a fourth-place showing at the Central States Regional Ethics Bowl in November. The starting roster at the national championship consisted of captain Ali Henke, Reyan Coskun, Hannah Eli, Alex Johnson and Nikhil Nandu. IU’s roster also carried four alternates: Seth Carter, Jess Gingles, Daniel Hao and Roger Morris. After IU’s elimination, coach Joe Bartzel said, “Any outcome that doesn’t have IU hoisting the cup is a disappointment, but we’re a young team with a sky-high upside, and I can’t wait to see the core of this team return next year.”

Bartzel also emphasized his team members’ personal growth throughout the year; in addressing the team, he said, “In the conversations that I’ve had with you, in groups and one-on-one, I’ve seen you grow and mature as people, and I’ve seen the relationships you’ve built with each other flourish, and I’m proud and grateful to have been a part of that.” When reflecting on what participating in Ethics Bowl means to her personally, team member Hannah Eli focused on the relationships she formed with competitors from other schools: “After discussing ethical issues in depth, you learn about a person, you connect with a person. We’ve met others who’ve had to think through the same issues we have, and it’s brought us together in a big way.” Reyan Coskun echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing the “strong network of friends made through Ethics Bowl.” Nikhil Nandu added, “While it’s great to fly to competitions and meaningfully represent my university in an incredible competition, the best part is definitely the people—my friends.”

In reflecting about the importance of Ethics Bowl, other team members focused on the ways they apply the skills the competition has helped them develop. Team captain Ali Henke said, “The largest takeaway for me is learning to argue in a way that is constructive.” She added, “It’s great to try to apply this approach in real life. It’s amazing how much better someone responds when you approach the conversation calmly and in a real attempt to understand.” Alex Johnson said, “Ethics Bowl has helped me grow just as much as any class I’ve taken at IU.” She elaborated: “Developing the ‘why’ of the argument, and doing it well, was hard work, but I know I’ll utilize that skill for the rest of my life.”

IU’s Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team is sponsored by the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, a research center of the Media School.


10/30/2015 - Undergraduates Sarah Kissel and Hannah Murray have been awarded Mary Jo Weaver Scholarships. The Mary Jo Weaver Undergraduate Scholarship Program is intended to provide ongoing support in the amount of $500 per year to one of two Religious Studies majors. Funds are available so long as the awardee continues to matriculate at IUB as a Religious Studies major and maintains a GPA of 3.5 in RS courses, and 3.0 overall. These awards are discretionary, and may not be awarded every year.

Sarah Kissel, from Zionsville, IN also majors in English and political science. She is an active member of URSA and cofounder of the Religious Studies department’s new journal of undergraduate research, Invocations. Hannah Murray, from Annapolis, MD, is a double major in Religious Studies and English (with a concentration in creative writing). She’s currently at work on a creative thesis and also serves both as an editorial intern at IU Press and a writing tutor for Writing Tutorial Services on campus.

3/4/2015 - PhD candidate Dana Logan was awarded $500 grant by the The Devonia and Steve Stein Fund for the Study of American Religions to support her participation in the Spring 2015 Church History conference. She organized an innovative panel entitled “Future of the American Religious Past” that put John Lardas Modern and Mark Noll in dialogue with one another. The panel broke new ground at Church History by adopting an untraditional format in which two senior scholars engaged one another around the pressing questions of young scholars. The students’ questions encouraged them to clarify basic issues of historical agency and theoretical genealogy within their work. The panel also served a crucial pedagogical function of clarifying the argument and stakes of both scholars’ books for the field at large.



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Undergraduate Gallagher essay contest:

Undergraduate Honors Thesis:

Graduate Essay Contest:


Kerilyn Harkaway-Krieger received her PhD from the department in December for her dissertation, “Mysticism and Metaphor: Visionary Literature in Fourteenth-Century England.” The project examines the relationship between mysticism and materiality through new readings of canonical texts. Focusing on the surprisingly shared formal features of two different Middle English genres (poetic dream visions and mystical texts written in prose), she argues for a reconsideration of metaphor as, paradoxically, a site for the concurrence of materiality and mysticism. Metaphors do not simply point “beyond” language to what cannot be said; rather, as she shows through careful close readings of Middle English texts, metaphorical language enacts the ineffable through a coincidence of opposites. Her dissertation thus intervenes in the longstanding scholarly conversation about medieval mysticism by using the methodology and theoretical approaches of literary studies, drawing attention to how the formal features of these texts (the material element of their language) are the locus of their mystical content.

-Kerilyn Harkaway-Krieger

Kerilyn Harkaway-Krieger
Professor Patricia Ingham, Dr. Kerilyn Harkaway-Krieger, Professor Constance Furey


Graduate Student news

Monteith Wins Fall 2104 Stein Fellowship

Religious Studies Graduate Students Receive Funding Through The Felix G. Ilarraz Memorial Fund

Francoeur Receives Mellon Dissertation Fellowship


Undergraduate student news

Undergraduates Receive Honors

Ursa Meets With Professor Sideris For A Lively Discussion


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