The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) announces a postdoctoral fellowship as part of its Public Theology Program. For the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18, BCSR seeks a top early career scholar to come to Berkeley for one year. The fellowship is dedicated to the furtherance of the very best new scholarship, and in particular the development of modes of inquiry that can chart new directions for the study of religion in the public university.

Fellows are integrated into the activities of BCSR and its Public Theology Program, a critical three-year research initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation dedicated to exploring the place of theology in public life, past and present. As participants in the intellectual life of the Center and the Luce initiate, fellows associate with a community of scholars from fields across the humanities and social sciences with specializations in a wide array of religious traditions. Fellows may pursue projects with varied disciplinary approaches to subjects including, but not limited to: theology and the institutions of secular life; theological aspects of politics; theology and law; art, literature, and theological inquiry; and theology and social formations.

Fellows also take part in an annual fall workshop that brings leading international scholars and intellectuals from universities, seminaries, divinity schools, and other institutions to Berkeley for intensive discussion on comparative approaches to theology. The program also supports new approaches to the study of religion through the development of model curricula. Fellows may elect to teach in a relevant UC Berkeley department in the second semester of residence.

The Public Theology Program builds upon Berkeley’s long tradition of challenging traditional categories of knowledge by opening a space for the study of theology in the public university. It also draws on the strengths of BCSR as a model for interdisciplinary work on religion, integrating robust academic research, student engagement, programming, and outreach beyond the university to the public at large. Through this program, BCSR seeks to reshape the landscape of religious studies at Berkeley and pioneer new approaches to the study of religion that can spread beyond Berkeley and reshape the field nationwide.

Recruitment for the 2016-17 fellowship opens November 2, 2015. Applications received by the initial review date of February 1, 2016 receive priority. For more information about the position, including required qualifications and application materials, go to: https://aprecruit.berkeley.edu/apply/JPF00893.

What should a conversation about religion look like in a public university? How should a public university foster deeper engagements with the historical and contemporary aspects of religious traditions? How can a public university help students and future leaders understand the changing dynamics of religious and secular life?

These are just some of the questions that form the research mission of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR), UC’s dynamic platform for scholarship and community engagement on topics in religion.

Since its inception in 2012, BCSR has hosted dozens of public lectures and seminars, and awarded grants and fellowships to students and faculty. In the coming year, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Berkeley Public Theology program, an initiative that integrates robust academic research, student participation and support, postdoctoral fellowships, and numerous lectures, workshops, and conferences to enliven BCSR’s rich roster of activities.

So, as the year comes to a close, we ask you to consider supporting BCSR’s new endeavors with a gift of any amount. Thank you for your commitment to fostering creative and critical scholarship on religion in the world!

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Noreen Khawaja, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University

The 2005 Danish “Cartoons Crisis” – as it has come to be known – set off a wave of protests and debates around the globe. The phenomenon was widely framed as a conflict between the freedom of speech, on the one hand, and the right not to be offended, on the other. Scholars have challenged this frame for its fundamental misapprehension of Muslim attitudes toward the depiction of the Prophet. This paper critically examines the Danish side of the story, arguing that Danish satirical culture should not only be understood in the context of an anti-religious tradition of Enlightenment criticism, but also in terms of a prominent Danish theological tradition within Lutheran Christianity, which emphasizes the “scandalous” nature of the Christian message. Often referred to as “dialectical” theology, this tradition had a profound impact on Danish politics and culture in the long twentieth century, and it emphasized that offense is not just an inevitable feature of a plural society, but a value––that is, a core principle of religious life. Understanding this theology better will shed light on contemporary debates about secularism, free speech, and the meaning of religious offense, beginning with the Danish context.

Noreen Khawaja is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University. Her research interests lie in nineteenth- and twentieth-century European intellectual history, focusing on the shifting status of religious ideas in modern Western culture. Her work examines problems of conversion, authenticity, criticism, and orthodoxy in European religion and philosophy. She has recently completed a book on existentialism, The Religion of Existence: Asceticism in Philosophy from Kierkegaard to Sartre, which be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016.