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Graduate Students

Stephanie Brenzel

Stephanie Brenzel

stephaniebrenzel2012@u.northwestern.edu

Stephanie Brenzel is a Ph.D. Candidate specializing in Modern Jewish Thought. Before coming to Northwestern, she earned her B.A. in German and Religious Studies from Rhodes College. She is currently finishing her dissertation entitled "As Strong as Death: Franz Rosenzweig’s Philosophy of Love in The Star of Redemption" under the direction of Kenneth Seeskin. The goal of the dissertation is to unpack how Rosenzweig used the concept of love to radically change the idealist epistemological, ontological, and logical frameworks in his philosophical system. Stephanie has spent the past year doing archival work for her dissertation. She was awarded a Northwestern Research Grant and the Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Fund Research Grant to conduct research at Universität Kassel and Dartmouth College. Other research interests include German idealism, German romanticism and Holocaust theology. 

Will Caldwell

Will Caldwell

WilliamCaldwell2016@u.northwestern.edu

Will Caldwell is a doctoral candidate in Islam and American Religions. He specializes in the history of early twentieth-century African American Muslims, with a focus on issues of race, empire, and internationalism. Before coming to Northwestern, he received a Master’s degree in religious studies from NYU. His advisors are Sylvester Johnson and Brannon Ingram.

Amanda Gvozden

Amanda Gvozden

AmandaGvozden2024@nlaw.northwestern.edu

Amanda Gvozden is a JD/Ph.D. student in the Religious Studies department. As an undergrad at Dickinson College, she studied religion and neurology focusing on the relationship between religious and mystical practice, neuroplasticity, and temporal lobe epilepsy. Her interest in religion and science focused into an interest in religion and medical ethics. Following these interests, Amanda received her MA degree in religious ethics at the University of Chicago focusing on religion and religion and medical ethics. Outside of the classroom, Amanda served as a fellow with the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship working with pediatric patients and their caregivers on physical and mental stress management using meditative techniques she studied in undergrad. Currently, Amanda is interested in the intersection of religious ethics, law, and medicine. Particularly, she is interested in questions of authority over definitions of “life” and “death,” the medical and legal guidelines that govern religiously affiliated hospitals, and the place of religious belief in the hospital both regarding patients’ treatments and doctors’ practices. Amanda is advised by faculty at both TGS and Pritzker School of Law including Cristina Traina in religious ethics, Andrew Koppelman in First Amendment Law, and Candice Player in Medicine and Law.

Joel Harrison

Joel Harrison

JoelHarrison2017@u.northwestern.edu

Joel Harrison is a PhD candidate in Theology. His work is focused on the relationship between theology and social theory at the turn of the 20th century in Germany and theory and method in the early history of religious studies. His dissertation, Between Normativity and History: Ernst Troeltsch's Mystic Type and the Creative Agency of Values, reads the "mystic type" in Troeltsch's theological sociology of the Church as a way of understanding his later work in the philosophy of history, particularly his solution to the problem of history and normativity. The dissertation argues that the "mystic type" can be understood philosophically, rather than historically or sociologically, and that a philosophical account of Troeltsch's mystic sheds new light on how he understands the development of Christian authority in history, showing how it is possible for norms to maintain authority while in a continual process of change. Joel holds a BA in English Education from California State University, Long Beach, an MA in English from the University of Northern Colorado, and an MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Areas of specialization: 19th and early 20th century German philosophy, social and critical theory, and ecclesiology. Awards include: DAAD Intensive Summer Language Course Grant (2014). His advisors are Cristina Traina and Mark Alznauer.

Joel has served as the Assistant Chair of the Humanities Residential College since 2015. In addition to that post, Joel will be the Graduate Assistant in the Public Humanities at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and will serve as the Religious Studies Department's Graduate Teaching Fellow through the Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching for the 2017-2018 school year.

James Howard Hill, Jr.

James Howard Hill, Jr.

jameshhilljr@u.northwestern.edu

James Howard Hill, Jr. is an interdisciplinary doctoral student in the Department of Religion at Northwestern who is also pursuing a graduate certificate in African American Studies. His research engages a wide range of critical paradigms from Black studies, sound studies and theology to popular culture, performance studies, and the relationship between U.S. religious culture and media. By working within these discursive paradigms, his research primarily focuses on the relationship between religion, Black politics, and popular culture in the post-civil-rights era. He is the past recipient of fellowships and awards from the Forum for Theological Education, The Louisville Institute, Northwestern’s Social Science Research Council (SSRC),  as well as Northwestern University’s Mellon Cluster Fellowship for Promising Research in Comparative Race and Diaspora studies. Past grants have allowed him to conduct research at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York), The National Portrait Library (London), The Stuart Hall Library of INIVA (London), and the Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University (Bloomington). In the spring of 2018, he co-organized the Politics of Movement: Racialization, Religion, and Migration Graduate Student Conference sponsored by the Buffett Institute of Global Studies at Northwestern University. His public commentary on issues of race, popular music, sports, Black politics and religion have appeared in Black Agenda Report, The Syndicate, Urban Cusp, and The Huffington Post among other outlets.

Nisheeta Jagtiani

Nisheeta Jagtiani

NisheetaJagtiani2021@u.northwestern.edu

Nisheeta Jagtiani is a doctoral student in Buddhist Studies.  She studies the non-sectarian ideal (Ris med) that gained popularity in East Tibet (Khams) in the 19th century. Through studying the lives of the founders of the Ris med ideal, she examines the closely intertwined relationship between religion, politics and the creation of authoritative figures in Tibet. Nisheeta graduated from the University of Chicago with an M.A. from the Divinity School. Her advisor is Sarah Jacoby.

Ashley King

Ashley King

ashleyking2020@u.northwestern.edu

Ashley King is a doctoral student whose research interests include gender and sexuality studies, animality studies, critical race theory, liberation theology, and popular fiction. Their dissertation project develops the concepts of "flesh" and "meat" to theorize racialized queerness, transness, and animality in the viscously embodied soteriologies of contemporary science fiction. Before coming to Northwestern, they earned an MA in religious studies at Missouri State University. Ashley is advised by Cristina Traina.

Marlon Millner

Marlon Millner

MarlonMillner2021@u.northwestern.edu

Marlon Millner is a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University in religious studies (field specialty of theological studies). Marlon works at the intersection of political and constructive theology, African-American and black diaspora studies, and contemporary theory. Broadly, he is interested in theology's discursive constitution of modernity as anti-blackness, and therefore the black sacred, including expressions of AfroChristianities as excessive to, and not constituted by theology. In particular, Marlon is working towards a dissertation project focused on Pentecostalism as a transnational movement of diaspora, which grounds itself in exile -- human fulfillment beyond a theologically constituted modernity. Pentecostalism offers disruption of the theologically enacted biopolitical formations of race, sex and gender, which presage Pentecostalism's early 20th century emergence, and reveals blackness as the out-of-nothing which Pentecostals enflesh. Marlon earned an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. from Morehouse College. He blogs at www.humuse.me, or follow him on Twitter @MarlonMillner. His advisor is Sylvester Johnson.

Aaron Moldenhauer

Aaron Moldenhauer

AaronMoldenhauer2013@u.northwestern.edu

Aaron Moldenhauer is a Ph.D. candidate in theology. He studies scholastic and Reformation theology and history, focusing primarily on the relationship between theology and philosophy and the continuities and ruptures between late medieval and Reformation thought. He is writing a dissertation on the Christology of Martin Luther, researching the conceptions of ontology, language, and logic that Luther uses in his account of the person of Christ. He uses Luther’s Christology serves as a lens to shed new light on the relationship between medieval and early modern theology and metaphysics. 

Courtney Rabada

Courtney Rabada

CourtneyRabada2022@u.northwestern.edu

Courtney Rabada is a doctoral student in American Religions. Her research interests include contemporary American religions, gender/sexuality, and ethnography. Her work focuses on the effects of religion on women’s sexuality, in particular gendered issues of shame, self-confidence, and body image. She earned her B.A. from Indiana University, Bloomington in English Literature and her M.A. from Claremont Graduate University in Religious Studies. Her advisor is Robert Orsi.

Carlos Recarte

Carlos Recarte

CarlosRecarte2022@u.northwestern.edu

Carlos Recarte is interested in emergent religiosity in relation to broader concepts of colonialism/decolonialism, embodiment/disembodiment, technocratic and state influences, appropriation, commodification and secularization, and the religious practices/discourse that occur at the nexus of those concepts within a transnational context between the Americas and East Asia. Carlos received a BA in Religious Studies and Masters in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Benjamin Ricciardi

Benjamin Ricciardi

BenjaminRicciardi2012@u.northwestern.edu

Benjamin Ricciardi is a doctoral student in Jewish philosophy. Before coming to Northwestern, he earned an MA in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a BA in Philosophy from Arizona State University. He is particularly interested in the Kantian strain in modern Jewish thought, especially the Marburg school of Neo-Kantianism. His dissertation analyses the weekday Jewish liturgy as a response to the Problem of Evil. Benjamin’s other areas of interest include early modern philosophy, political philosophy, ethics, and ontotheology. His advisor is Kenneth Seeskin.

Matthew J. Smith

Matthew J. Smith

matthewSmith2015@u.northwestern.edu

Matthew J. Smith is a doctoral candidate in American Religions and Mellon Fellow in Comparative Race and Diaspora. He specializes in the inter-disciplinary study of religion, race, and empire in the Americas, with specific interest in the entanglements between the Anglo-Protestant "white world order" and scientific theories of the race, sex, and religion/secularism in the late-19th/early-20th centuries. His dissertation project explores the material and temporal theories of human plasticity by Protestant "missions science," and the sciences more broadly, as an integral discourse of racialized modernity. Areas of interest: U.S. empire, critical race/sex theory, racial and settler colonialism, secularism and the politics of freedom, space and mobility, science and technology, decolonial methodologies, and critical ethnic studies. Before coming to Northwestern, Matthew earned his Masters degree from Princeton Seminary and his Bachelors from Anderson University. His advisor is Sylvester Johnson.

Miranda Smith

Miranda Smith

MirandaSmith2022@u.northwestern.edu

Miranda Smith is a doctoral student in Buddhist Studies. She is primarily interested in Tibetan literature, especially autobiography and poetry. She plans to study modern Tibetan poets and examine how they sustain, depart from and reinvent Tibetan literary tradition. She is also interested in poetry as a technology of the self. Her other interests include women’s religious history, autobiography studies, and poetics. Before arriving at Northwestern, she received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso, and a BA from Mount Holyoke College. Her advisor is Sarah Jacoby.

Lily Stewart

Lily Stewart

LilyStewart2021@u.northwestern.edu

Lily Stewart is a doctoral student in Medieval Religious History. She focuses her studies on medieval perceptions and experiences of saints, sanctity, and the afterlife. Lily is interested in exploring how women, the poor, the disabled, and other marginalized groups fit within medieval structures of spirituality and devotion, and where (or whether) they were allocated space in various models of the afterlife. Before coming to Northwestern, she earned a post-baccalaureate certificate in post-classical Latin as a Mellon fellow at UCLA. She received her BA in Religious Studies from Scripps College. Lily’s advisors are Richard Kieckhefer and Barbara Newman.

Eda Uca

Eda Uca

EdaUca2022@u.northwestern.edu

Eda Uca is a doctoral student in American Religions and Mellon Fellow in Comparative Race and Diaspora. Eda is interested in the blooper reel of American racialization; those racial ideas and identities which were produced during crisis points in American racialization and not consolidated into subsequent racial regimes. Her research examines how 20th century religious communities and movements functioned as sites for the production of racial imaginaries and what these racio-religious experiments might illuminate about the obsolescence and production of hegemonic racial regimes, and in turn, the continually renegotiated boundaries of "America" and American identity formation in the U.S. She comes to Northwestern from Yale Divinity School where she earned an Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology concentrated in Black Religion in the African Diaspora. Her master thesis, "What is Islam? Reading Noble Drew Ali's Islamic American Imaginaire" earned honors distinction. Her advisers are Sylvester Johnson and Brannon Ingram. 

Darcie Price-Wallace

Darcie Price-Wallace

darciepricewallace2021@u.northwestern.edu

Darcie Price-Wallace is a doctoral student in Buddhist Studies. She studies different forms of female monasticism and renunciation in contemporary South Asia. Her research examines the relationship between communities of such women and the social environments in which those communities exist, and the way in which these communities are influenced by and accept or reject the nexus of cultural traditions of which they are a part. Darcie graduated from the University of Chicago with an M.A. from the School of Social Service Administration and an M.A. from the Divinity School. Her advisor is Sarah Jacoby.

Sherab Wangmo

Sherab Wangmo

FnuXiraoxiangmao2022@u.northwestern.edu

Sherab Wangmo is a doctoral student in Buddhist Studies. She is primarily interested in Women in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly women’s religious lives and their contributions in specific social and historical contexts. She plans to study contemporary Tibetan female master Mu med ye shes mtsho mo, a leading figure of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. By studying her four available biographical writings, Sherab examines Buddhist concepts of gender, agency and power. Sherab received an MA from University of Colorado Boulder and a BA from Minzu University of China in Beijing. Her advisor is Sarah Jacoby.

Jeffrey Wheatley

Jeffrey Wheatley

jwheatley@u.northwestern.edu

Jeffrey Wheatley is a doctoral candidate in American Religions. He researches race, religion, empire, and state power in the United States, especially in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Related focal points include pedagogy, theory and method, global Christianity, secularism, the history of the study of religion, and popular use of the octopus as an image for visualizing dangerous others. His current project examines American understandings of “superstition” and “fanaticism,” paying attention to how these terms have been used to surveil and govern populations deemed dangerous. Jeff published “US Colonial Governance of Superstition and Fanaticism in the Philippines” in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion and co-wrote “The Protestant Secular in the Study of American Religion: Reappraisal and Suggestions” in Religion. Jeff holds an MA in American Religious History from Florida State University and a BA in History from Arizona State University. You can view his CV here. He is on Twitter @wheatleyjt.

 

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