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MemberErin Johnson-Williams

Erin Johnson-Williams is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Music. Her research focuses on music and de/colonialism, the imperial legacies of music education, music and trauma, and the soundscapes of spaces colonial violence. Erin’s current Leverhulme project, entitled ‘Audible Incarceration: Singing Communal Religion in Colonial Concentration Camps’, examines the role of singing, religious experience and trauma in spaces of colonial incarceration, with particular focus on the concentration camps of the Boer War in South Africa.

MemberDavid Skelton

David Skelton has a PhD in Religions of Western Antiquity from Florida State with an emphasis in the Second Temple period. His dissertation was on music and pedagogy in Ben Sira and the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is currently teaching courses on the survey of the Hebrew Bible and the Prophets. His research concerns the book of Ben Sira, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Syriac Christianity. More specifically, he is interested in the use of prayer and music as a means of creating identity as well the pedagogical use of music in Early Jewish and Christian communities.  

MemberMatthew R. Hotham

Dr. Matthew R. Hotham [Hoe-Thumb] teaches Islam (RELS 275), The Qur‘an (RELS 208), introductory Religious Studies and Core Curriculum classes, as well as advanced seminars on Animals and Religion, Religion, Colonialism and Modernity, and Islamic Mysticism at Ball State University. His research and teaching focus on embodied, affective, and material approaches to the study of religion. His classes incorporate role-playing, case studies, music, scents, religious objects, and visits to the David Owsley Art Museum to encourage students to think about religions as lived and living traditions that invite a diversity of embodied human engagements and responses. His research has two theoretically related but historically distant prongs. First, his in-progress book manuscript, Introductory Matters: Maligned Manuscripts, Ascended Bodies, and Contested Definitions of Sufism, highlights the complexity and diversity of the Islamic tradition through the study of an important but under-researched medieval Persian text, Nizami Ganjavi’s Treasury of Mysteries. The second prong of his research examines Euro-American constructions of the Muslim as an “other” to be feared, focusing on how a diverse array of contemporary literatures, from television shows to internet memes, use animals and animal imagery to construct the Muslim body as different and dangerous. In both projects, his work focuses on the body and bodily comportment, examining how what a person eats, drinks, smells, sees, and touches is used to mark the boundaries of religious identity. Hotham’s research and teaching have taken him around the world, including summers in India, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Syria, and Turkey. He is the advisor to Religion Conversation Hour, a student-run organization that meets weekly to explore themes central to the study of religion and topics from a variety of religious traditions. He is also chair of the Midwest Region American Academy of Religion section on Literature and Sacred Texts in the Study of Religion.

MemberLauren Osborne

My interests revolve broadly around perception and experience of religious texts. My areas of specialization include Islamic Studies, the Qur’an and Qur’anic Studies, Islam and music, and Sensory Studies in the study of religion. My current project is a book on meaning and experience across the sound, text, and performance of the recited Qur’an called, Recite! Aesthetics and Experience of the Recited Qur’an. In this work, I take a combined hermeneutic and ethnographic approach in considering the recited Qur’an in a wide range of contexts, illuminating the theoretical possibilities for interrelationships and discontinuities between different realms of meaning. In my research and teaching more broadly, I am interested in interactions between discursive and non-discursive meanings of religious texts—the Qur’an most specifically—, as well as sense experience within Islamic Studies and Religious Studies. I am currently the co-chair of the Qur’an Unit in the American Academy of Religion.

MemberDavid Stowe

David W. Stowe teaches English and Religious Studies at Michigan State University, where he served as chair of the English Department. His most recent book is Song of Exile, released in May 2016. Before that he published No Sympathy for the Devil: Christian Pop Music and the Transformation of American Evangelicalism (UNC Press 2011, pbk. 2013). His previous book, How Sweet the Sound: Music in the Spiritual Lives of Americans (Harvard, 2004), won the Deems Taylor Award from ASCAP. Stowe’s first book, Swing Changes: Big Band Jazz in New Deal America (Harvard, 1994), was published in Japanese translation by Hosei University Press. He has been interviewed about his work on NPR, consulted for PBS, and lectured on the subject of religion and music in America life for a variety of national organizations. Stowe has published a study of New York cabaret culture and politics in the 1930s and 1940s in the Journal of American History, where he regularly reviews books. He has also written articles on Japanese jazz artist Toshiko Akiyoshi, the musical history of Psalm 137 in the U.S. and Caribbean, whiteness studies, copyright and fair use for academic authors, and church conflict during the Great Awakening. During the 2012-13 academic year, Stowe held a research fellowship at Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, where he researched and wrote a book manuscript on the cultural history of Psalm 137. While on leave from Michigan State University, Stowe taught at Doshisha University’s Graduate School of American Studies in Kyoto, Japan, where he also served as Associate Dean. There he taught American Civilization, American Thought, History of American Religious Music, and workshops on research in American Studies. As part of his interest in the globalization of American Studies, Stowe has participated in international conferences of American Studies scholars in Japan, Korea, and Singapore. He was a founding member of the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Culture, a Michigan-based research institute that sponsors lectures and symposia by leading scholars from around the country.

MemberJoshua Busman

Joshua Kalin Busman is an Assistant Professor who teaches music history and music theory in the Department of Music and serves as Assistant Dean of the Esther G. Maynor Honors College. A native of Knoxville, TN, Dr. Busman comes to North Carolina from just over the Great Smoky Mountains. In 2009, he graduated summa cum laude from Middle Tennessee State University with a B.M. in Music Theory and Composition. In 2011, he completed an M.A. in Musicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a thesis focusing on sixteenth-century French Calvinist psalm-singing  In May 2015, he received his Ph.D. in Musicology from UNC Chapel Hill with a dissertation titled “(Re)Sounding Passion: Listening to American Evangelical Worship Music (1997-Present).” His research focuses broadly on contemporary evangelical Christianity with particular focuses on worship, affect, and mass-media. Over the past several years, Joshua has presented his research at a host of regional, national, and international conferences and published work in the Journal of the Society for American Music“Sounding Board” from Ethnomusicology ReviewThe Avid ListenerThe Other Journal, and The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, as well as in multiple edited collections from Routledge PressLexington Books, and Bloomsbury Academic. He is a past president of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Southeast and Caribbean Chapter as well as the Religion, Music, and Sound study group. In addition to his academic work, Joshua also serves as “Music Nerd-in-Residence” for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, connecting classical music to the broader public through his writing and speaking. He is also an active composer throughout the Cape Fear region with recent performances by the UNCP Percussion Ensemble, Sweet Tea Shakespeare, and as part of the Cape Fear New Music Festival at Methodist University. When he isn’t reading, writing, or researching, Joshua likes to play guitar and hang out with his wife, two sons, and hound dog at their home in Fayetteville, NC.