Read my blog in The Immanent Frame
Read about my project, The Politics of Religious Freedom
Read about my project, Religion and Diversity
Read about my talk on "The (im)possibility of religious freedom?" for PluRel
Listen to my interview on Radio Canada
Learn more about my new book
to watch a video about my book click here.
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Winnifred F Sullivan
Professor, Department Chair, Department of Religious Studies
Affilliate Professor of Law, Maurer School of Law
Sycamore Hall, Rm. 228
B.A., Cornell University, 1971
J.D., University of Chicago, 1976
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1993
- The intersection of religion and law in the modern period
- The phenomenology of modern religion as it is shaped in its encounter with law
- Comparative study of Religion and Law
- Anthropology of Law
- European Union law
I am interested in religion as a broad and complex social and cultural phenomenon that both generates law and is regulated by law. I have training in law and in religious studies and have taught both in law school and in religion departments. I practiced law for six years after graduating from law school before returning to graduate school to study religion. My training in the academic study of religion is in two fields, American religious history and the comparative study of religion. My research interest is primarily in understanding the intersection of religion and law in the U.S. within a broader comparative field, both theoretically and cross-culturally. Within legal studies, my work falls broadly within socio-legal and critical legal studies.
I am the author of three books analyzing legal discourses about religion, primarily in the context of actions brought to enforce the religion clauses of the First Amendment and related legislation: Paying the Words Extra: Religious Discourse in the Supreme Court of the United States (Harvard 1994), The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton 2005), and Prison Religion: Faith-based Reform and the Constitution (Princeton 2009). Each of these first three books treats an individual American law case about religion. Each offers a close reading of the texts of the trial using the resources of legal anthropology, socio-legal studies and the academic study of religion, with a view to displaying the multiple models of and discourses about religion there represented. My goal in each case was to situate and critique American law about religion, setting that law in the context of American religious and legal history, and the scholarship about them. I brought to these cases my experience and interest as a trial lawyer in the courtroom as well as my training as a scholar of religion. These books also participate in an evolving academic conversation about the nature of the trial.
Courses Recently Taught
- REL-C 300 Christmas: The Church-State History of the World’s Most Popular Holiday
- REL-R 662 Cross-Cultural Study of Religion
A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care, and the Law (University Of Chicago Press, September 2014)
Varieties of Religious Establishment (editor with Lori Beaman) (Ashgate 2013)
After Secular Law (editor, with Robert A. Yelle and Mateo Taussig-Rubbo) (Stanford University Press, 2011)
Prison Religion: Faith-Based Reform and the Constitution (Princeton 2009)
The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton 2005)
Paying the Words Extra: Religious Discourse in the Supreme Court of the United States (Harvard 1994)
“Dialogue about Religious Freedom” (with Cécile Laborde) Quaderni di Diritto e Politica Ecclesiastica / n. 1, aprile 2013.
"Joan's Two Bodies: An Essay in Political Anthropology" for special issue "Body and State" Social Research 78:1-18 (Summer 2011)
"The Religious Expert in American Courts" for special issue "Expertise publique et religion" Archives des Sciences Sociales des Religions (2011)
"Law" and "Justice" articles for Vocabulary for the Study of Religion (Brill, online and print, forthcoming 2011)
"Why Are We Talking About Civil Religion Now?" Symposium on "Civil Religion" in the United States and Europe: Four Comparative Perspectives, George WashingtonInternational Law Review (2010)
"The Conscience of Contemporary Man": Reflections on U.S. v. Seeger and Dignitatis Humanae, U.S. Catholic Historian vol. 24:107-123 (Winter 2006)
"Religious Freedom and the Rule of Law: Exporting Modernity in a Postmodern World?", Mississippi College Law Review vol.22(2): 173-183 (2004)
"Neutralizing Religion or What is the Opposite of 'Faith-Based'"?, History of Religions Journal vol. 41: 369-390 (2002) (reprinted in Religion: Beyond a Concept (H. deVries, editor, Fordham University Press, 2008)
"Indifferentism Redux: Reflections on Catholic Lobbying in the Supreme Court", Notre Dame Law Review 76:993-1018 (April 2001).
"Being Human: Negotiating Religion, Law, and Science in the Classroom and the Courtroom" in Elizabeth Mertz, William Ford, and Gregory Matoesian, eds., Translating the Social World for Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
“Religious and Legal Particularism and Universality” in the Blackwell Companion to Anthropology of Religion edited by Michael Lambek (2013).
“Reforming Culture: Law and Religion Today” in Robert Orsi, ed., Cambridge Companion for Religious Studies. (2011).
“Religion Naturalized: The New Establishment,” After Pluralism (C. Bender & P. Klassen, editors) (2009)
“Comparing Law Comparing Religion”, Introducing Religion: Essays in Honour of Jonathan Z. Smith (W. Braun & R.T.McCutcheon, editors) (Equinox Publishers, 2008)
“Overview” to Law and Religion entries (with Robert Yelle) Encyclopedia of Religion (Macmillian Reference USA, 2nd edition, 2005)
“American Religion is Naturally Comparative”, in A Magic Still Dwells: Comparative Religion in the Postmodern Age (Kimberley C. Patton and Benjamin C. Ray, editors) (University of California Press, 1999).