Past Student News

Graduate Student News

2017-Grad students Jacob Boss and Andrew Monteith are featured for their summer research fellowships with Politics of Religion at Home and Abroad


2016 - 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

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.


11/1/14 - PhD candidate Andrew Monteith was awarded $500 grant by the The Devonia and Steve Stein Fund for the Study of American Religions to conduct archival research at the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. for his work on the religious aspects of the War on Drugs. Monteith says, "The religious dimensions of the War on Drugs have gone largely unexplored, yet religion lies at the heart of it. I propose to exhume, analyze, and explain the religious motivations that propelled the first wave of federal drug laws (1902-1922), which were pushed forward by Postmillennialist concerns."


Two Religious Studies graduate students are among the three students on campus who have been awarded travel grants through Dhar India Studies Felix G. Ilarraz Memorial Fund.

Ashlee Andrews (PhD student, Religious Studies): will travel to Kolkata this summer to conduct interviews with Hindu women about their food rituals. The title of her project is: "Cooking the Home: Gastronomic Rituals of Bengali Hindu Women in Kolkata and the American Diaspora."

Kristin Francoeur (PhD student, Religious Studies): will travel to Delhi and Lucknow in September to conduct interview-based research with participants and organizers of gender-related NGOs and development aid workers. The title of her project is: “Toward a Re-Evaluation of Gender and Empowerment in ‘Development’: The Impact of Religion on North Indian NGOs.”



Photo of Kristin Francoeur
Kristin Francoeur

PhD candidate Kristin Francoeur has been selected to receive a Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration Graduate Dissertation Fellowship. The selection committee was impressed with her project and its prospects for success and recommended that the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President grant this award.


York Minster
York Minster

April 2014- Kerilyn Harkaway-Krieger was accepted to a NEH specialist seminar on “Art, Architecture, and devotion in the later Middle Ages” that meets in York, England. Her four week seminar will include site visits to some of the most stunning churches in central England.



Photo of Diane Fruchtman
Diane Fruchtman

Diane was awarded an American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The American Fellowships, AAUW’s oldest and largest funding program, support women scholars who are completing doctoral dissertations, conducting postdoctoral research, or finishing research for publication. “The American Fellowship program affords scholars the ability to become leading thinkers in their fields and have an impact across multiple disciplines. It’s also a recognition of their great potential because they are receiving support from one of the nation’s most respected women’s organizations,” said Gloria Blackwell, AAUW vice president of fellowships, grants, and international programs. The AAUW (online at is one of the world’s leading supporters of graduate women’s education, having awarded nearly $100 million in fellowships, grants, and awards to more than 12,000 women. Diane feels extremely honored to have been selected to join their ranks, and will use her American Fellowship to fund her final year of dissertation-writing.

Diane's paper, "Paulinus and the Living Martyr: Making Martyrs in the Nolan Countryside,” won a "NAPS Outstanding Student Paper Prize" at the North American Patristics Society annual meeting in Chicago in May. The paper, which represents an argument from Diane's dissertation, explores the way that Paulinus of Nola (353-431) depicted St. Felix as a martyr despite the saint's death in peaceful old age, long after the threat of persecution had passed. She argues that Paulinus' treatment of Felix as a martyr is not only central to Paulinus' own spirituality, but also to his hopes for other Christians: Paulinus hoped to make martyrdom accessible to his contemporaries by offering Felix as a role model, making it possible for them to become martyrs, too.


Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Diane Fruchtman who received the 2013 Andrea S. McRobbie Graduate Fellowship in Medieval History from the Medieval Studies Institute on September 15. The fellowship was established by the McRobbie family in 2007 in memory of the late Andrea McRobbie, who had a great interest in medieval history. The award is intended to support an advanced graduate student engaged in scholarship in medieval history, specifically some aspect of its social history or some theme in medieval social history related to its art, philosophy or literature. More information about the award can be found at Inside IU Bloomington.



sarah dees
Sarah Dees

April 2013 - Congratulations to Sarah Dees, Religious Studies doctoral student, on her receipt of the Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award for distinguished teaching. Read the press release



Photo of Syifa Widigdo
Syifa Widigdo

Syifa Widigdo attended International Institute of Islamic Thought Summer Student Program 2013 from May 27-July 3, 2013 in Herndon, Virginia this summer. At the end of the program he was awarded the "IIIT Research Fellowship Award 2013." This award will provide funds for him to participate in some academic conferences and write a research paper that will be published in the end of 2014.



Photo of Will Smith
Will Smith

April 2013 - We are delighted to announce that AlumniWill Smith was awarded 2013 Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences Advisor of the Year Award. According to Will, he was " excited to receive this unexpected honor. I'm glad that students find my work so helpful." Please join us in congratulating Will on this well-deserved award!


Return to top

Undergraduate Student News


2/23/2016, 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.


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.


Photo Shelby Everett
Shelby Everett and Professor Constance Furey

Shelby Everett was one of five students at the Bloomington campus to be awarded the 2013-2014 Excellence in Service-Learning Student Award. Shelby was nominated for the work she did in a service-learning course of her own design, on “Activism in Theory and Practice.” Shelby is a Religious Studies major as well as a dedicated social activist herself, and the course she developed included a rigorous reading list of work about secular and religiously-inspired social activism as well as an outreach effort designed in cooperation with Fair Trade Bloomington, focused on getting area churches to adopt a policy endorsing the use of Fair Trade Coffee for all of their events.

What is extraordinary about Shelby’s work is that she demonstrated the value of combining thought and action. Shelby is a worthy recipient because she was effective in the short term while also preparing herself to be an inspiring and effective activist in the long term, recognizing that commitment requires deep and profound engagement with the ideas as well as the examples provided by others working toward similar goals.

Sarah Babb, David Bloom, Harini Garram, Hannah Garvey, Nolan Hart, Rafal Swiatkowski and Victoria Eder have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK) for the 2013-2014 academic year.



Sideris meets with URSA
Professor Sideris meets with URSA

On a rainy Thursday evening following a day of classes and homework, a group of IU students from a variety of majors gathered around a large table in Woodburn Hall to participate in an academic discussion at an URSA event entitled “From Myth to Myth: The Transition From Religion to Science.” The event sought to engage students with the subject matter of Professor Lisa Sideris’ current research project, which focuses on mythopoetic scientific creation narratives that go by various names such as The New Story, The Journey of the Universe, or the Epic of Evolution. Proponents of these narratives argue that the traditional, religious stories that have informed human society can no longer fulfill their intended function of inspiring wonder and orienting humans in their relation to the universe; therefore, they claim, new stories grounded in contemporary scientific knowledge are needed in order to overcome current predicaments such as intolerance, conflict, and impending environmental catastrophe.

Informed by reading a selection of articles and brief lecture provided by Professor Sideris, the discussion group engaged in a spirited debate that examined the New Story’s underlying logic as well as the proposed outcomes of its implication. Of particular interest were the questions of whether replacement of religious myths would lead to the outcomes that New Story proponents advocate, whether a scientific myth would be accessible to all members of society, and whether a univocal scientific narrative is feasible. The New Story came under heavy fire when the group began to scrutinize the assumptions underlying the need for the new story, including the premise that contemporary society hovers in a place between cultural narratives and that diversity of belief has caused the dilemmas facing the globe. The scope of the discussion reflected the interdisciplinary background of the attending students, resulting in consideration of fact and opinion from diverse academic perspectives. As at the end of any good debate, the discussion group walked away from the event feeling far more informed, but brimming with an even greater number of questions.

-Rafal Swiatkowski

Return to top