News

The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) announces a program of small grants to help fund UC Berkeley graduate student events on topics in religion. These grants provide partial support and range from $250-$500 for a single event, and up to $1,000 for a conference.

Requirement Summary

- Awards provide partial funding for lectures, panels, conferences, exhibitions, or performances on topics in religion.
- Awards from $250 – $500 only, with occasional awards of up to $1,000 for conferences.
- Activities must be led by UC Berkeley graduate students and supported by a campus department or unit.
- Events must take place on the UC Berkeley campus and be free and open to the public.

Application Requirements

Applicants should submit a single pdf document that includes:

- Event title and type (lecture, panel, etc.).
- Proposed date(s) and location(s).
- Name, email, and phone information for primary student organizer and contact in organizing department.
- A summary paragraph and narrative (50w) describing the event, its purpose, and intended audience, as well as participant bios (up to 1500w).
- A detailed expense budget with BCSR request and amounts requested from other funding sources.
- For conferences: Attach a list of invited/confirmed participants and their CVs instead of participant bios.

Completed applications should be submitted to BCSR Directors c/o bcsrgradstudentevents@berkeley.edu and received no later than 4 pm on the due date. Electronic files are preferred, although hard copy files may be delivered to 4327 Dwinelle Hall.

Due Dates

Fall 2014 Events

Applications: Monday, September 8, 2014 at 4pm
Announcement: Monday, September 22, 2014

Spring 2015 Events

Applications: Thurs., December 4, 2014 at 4 pm
Announcement: Monday, January 12, 2015

The 2014 Faculty Project Development Group (PDG) Grant has been awarded to Professors Niklaus Largier (German and Comparative Literature) and David Marno (English) for their collaborative project, Poetics of Prayer. The goal of the project is to develop a rhetoric and poetics of prayer from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century in tandem with prayer’s echoes in early modern and modern literature. The funds will support research, workshops, monthly meetings, and visiting speakers.

Professors Largier and Marno describe the project as follows:

“A large body of seemingly secular literature and art from the Renaissance to Romanticism and modernity turns out, upon closer examination, to imitate, appropriate, or reflect on prayers. In this project, we will close read late antique, medieval, and early modern theological and devotional texts in order to reconstruct the genres of prayer, the material technologies that are at stake, and the ways in which prayer engages questions of rhetoric and poetics. Our goal is to understand how prayer is meant to shape attention, perception, and expression in its original devotional contexts, and how prayer’s original functions are repurposed in its literary afterlives.”

BCSR PDGs provide venues for small groups of UC Berkeley faculty to begin collaboration on larger-scale projects related to the study of religion. Large-scale collaboration in the humanities and the social sciences is often prohibitively difficult both to organize and to fund. The PDG program seeks to ease these difficulties by providing a congenial framework for intellectual exploration, as well as support for grant writing initiatives.

The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR), an academic center for independent and innovative research in religion, announces the nine recipients of the 2014-15 Graduate Student Summer Research Grants. These projects address a broad range of issues and topics in religion including relationships of religion to media and politics, under-seen global or early religious communities, and religious doctrine and law. Thirty promising proposals were received from an open call to UC Berkeley graduate students. Over $40,000 in awards were distributed.

“Berkeley has some of the most creative minds in the world at work in the study of religion and ethics. The projects submitted for consideration for our summer research grant were absolutely stellar, and testify to the broad range of creative work in religion and ethics ongoing on the campus. Grant recipients will be at work on a huge variety of topics, bringing their own disciplinary strengths to bear on subjects of urgent importance, past and present. The center is proud to sponsor such excellence and rigor.” – BCSR Co-Directors Mark Csikszentmihalyi and Jonathan Sheehan

The following nine research projects were awarded grants:

Lauren Bausch (South and Southeast Asian Studies)
Bausch’s dissertation articulates Kosalan philosophy according to two texts, the late Vedic Kānvīya Śatapatha Brāhmana and the early Buddhist Suttanipāta. Drawing on their historical context, she presents a regional philosophy that sheds light on the religious development of ancient India. This summer she will travel to India and Europe to present her dissertation research to scholars and archaeologists in the field for their critical feedback. In addition, Bausch will photograph the Agnihotra ritual and present her work at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Erik Born (German)
Despite widespread contemporary interest in mobile media, pervasive computing, and social networks, our current view of wireless technology still tends to ignore the earlier cultural debates that informed our current situation. In Born’s dissertation, “The Cultural Origins of Wireless Connectivity: Technologies of Transmission and Reception in Central Europe, 1880–1930,” he argues that the early discourse of broadcast media was part and parcel of debates about the conception of the divine and the construction of a secular public sphere. This summer, he will conduct archival research at the Deutsches Technikmuseum and the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv, analyzing new possibilities for communication and community offered by wireless technology, from Walter Rathenau’s “Die Resurrection Co.” (1898) to Pere Lhande’s reflections on “Die Radio-Predigt” (1929).

Graham Hill (Sociology)
Hill’s dissertation offers an ethnographic account of a charismatic Christian businessmen’s organization in Mexico City, called La Fraternidad Internacional de los Hombres de Negocios del Evangelio Completo (FIHNEC). It describes the relationship between members’ attention to this-worldly supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit and their attempts to forge an ethic of self-discipline. In the summer of 2014 he will return to Mexico City to further investigate the following question: In the pursuit of evidence of the supernatural in the details of everyday life, how do members of FIHNEC respond to potentially disconfirming evidence? (Yeary Endowment)

Nicholas Junkerman (English)
Junkerman’s research focuses on writings about miracle by 18th-century American Protestants. He will travel to England this summer to conduct research at the British Library and the Methodist Archives and Research Center at the University of Manchester. This research will allow him to complete the final chapter of his dissertation, which examines the celebrated preacher George Whitefield’s interpretation of scriptural miracles in the context of deist skepticism and evangelical piety.

Jean-Michel Landry (Anthropology)
Combining ethnographic and archival research, Landry’s dissertation inquires into the exercise of Shi‘a Islamic law inside and outside the apparatuses of the Lebanese state. Based on 17 months of intensive fieldwork in Lebanon, it represents an attempt to bring into sharp relief the distinctive political, epistemological, and ethical conditions under which Shi‘a Islamic law is practiced under the aegis of a postcolonial nation-state. This summer, he will travel to Lebanon in order to investigate specific law-cases in the archives of Beirut’s Shi‘a family-law tribunal and pursue his research in an Islamic legal school.

Christopher Mead (English)
Mead will travel to England this summer to undertake research for the introductory chapter of his dissertation, “Mass Communication: Old Religion and New Technology in Early Modern England.” He will visit the British, Bodleian, and Cambridge University libraries, where he will conduct research on the cruciform poetry of Venantius Fortunatus and the Charters of Christ, along with other material expressions of medieval eucharistic culture.

Samuel Robinson (History)
Robinson’s dissertation, “Flesh be Made Spirit: Radical Religion, Materialism, and the Theology of the Holy Spirit in Early Modern England,” examines problems of religious materialism, asking how the triadic relationship between mind, body, and spirit changed during the late 17th century. Working from the ideological upheaval of the English Revolution, Robinson’s work asks how religious ideas influenced understandings of corporeality and materiality in England. His summer research will include the study of alchemical texts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and the examination of several assize court depositions at the UK National Archives in London.

Tehila Sasson (History)
Sasson’s dissertation, entitled “From Empire to Humanity: Technologies of Famine Relief in an Era of Decolonization,” examines the emergence of humanitarian ethics for famine relief in Imperial Britain, paying particular attention to the role of religious organizations and ideas in shaping its culture and politics. It demonstrates how humanitarian morality developed out of a series of practices connected to global and imperial governance rather than a product of individual sentiments. She will spend the summer in the United Kingdom conducting research on the various archives of missionary and religious organizations in order to complete the third chapter of her dissertation. (Yeary Endowment)

Kris Trujillo (Rhetoric)
In his dissertation entitled “Jubilee of the Heart: Song, Sense, and the Poetic Construction of Mystical Experience,” Trujillo examines the aesthetic and ethical significance of music to the production of Christian mystical texts. His project reads the Song of Songs commentary tradition together with the monastic performance of Psalter recitation in order to explore the material and embodied effects of music—both in practice and as trope. This summer, Trujillo will explore monasteries and béguinages in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and France and observe, through active participation, the Divine Office at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Cîteaux. (Yeary Endowment)

Support for the BCSR Graduate Student Summer Research Grants was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award granted to Professor Thomas Laqueur and the Frank and Leslie Yeary Endowment for Ethics in the Humanities.

The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) is sponsoring 1 to 2 Project Development Groups (PDG) in the study of religion for faculty in academic year 2014-15. BCSR PDGs provide an opportunity for small collaborative faculty groups to work on larger-scale projects related to the study of religion. Collaboration across the humanities and the social sciences is often prohibitively difficult both to organize and to fund. The PDG program seeks to ease these challenges by providing a congenial and productive framework for collaborative intellectual exploration.

To that end, the PDG program can contribute $2,500 in research funds to each participating faculty member (from 2 to 5 participants), as well as up to $7,500 for incidentals. These expenses can include hiring a GSR, inviting outside speakers, meals, etc. Groups may wish to use the PDG as a platform to launch larger grant writing projects or to seed a lecture series, publication, or a conference. Collaborative projects with other campuses—national or international—are welcome, although the program cannot fund non-UCB faculty.

Applications for funding should include:

-Project Description. ~1000 words narrative of the research project and its significance. Please also include brief participant bios, and describe their roles in the collaboration. Be sure to identify primary coordinating contact on the proposal.

-Proposed Objectives. These might include conferences and workshops, publications, grant proposals, colloquia, etc.

-Schedule of Activities. PDGs are expected to meet regularly (at least 1x/month) and should provide a syllabus for these meetings.

-Budget. Justification for up to $7,500 to support these activities

Completed applications (including all supporting materials) should be submitted to BCSR Directors c/o bcsrprojectdevgrant@berkeley.edu and received by Tuesday, April 1 at 4 pm. Electronic or hard copy files are accepted.

Deadline for applications: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 by 4 pm
Award Announced: Week of May 1, 2014
Award Period: July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015
Award Amount $2,500/faculty member in research support and up to $7,500 in related expenses

By connecting scholars, students, and the global community, the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) fosters critical and creative scholarship on religion and activates this scholarship for students and the public at large.