Why Religious Studies at Macalester?

The courses of the department of religious studies focus on the study of Christianity and Judaism in both their historical and contemporary expressions, and on the major non-Western religious traditions. While the introductory courses are broad in scope, they seek to be selective enough to allow an in-depth encounter with source documents through historical understanding. Methods of instruction include not only lectures and seminars but also opportunities for independent study and individual instruction. The program of the department aims to serve not only students whose academic specialization is religious studies but also students who seek courses that can help unlock the religious dimensions encountered in other disciplines.


Professor Erik Davis is quoted in The Phnom Penh Post

Read the article here: “How serious are Cambodia’s land rights protesters about their curses?”.

Candace Mixon, Ph.D. candidate, UNC, Chapel Hill, teaches at Macalester 2019-20

Candace Mixon’s current work examines visual culture (e.g., figurative religious images, such as those of the Prophet Muhammad and his family) and materiality (e.g., physical objects used in ritual practice) in order to interrogate how images, art, and objects do play an important role in Muslim devotional practices. Her research focuses specifically on images, objects, and rituals within the context of contemporary Shi’a Muslim practices in Iran. Her dissertation project, entitled, “Mother of Her Father: Contemporary Devotion to Fatima al-Zahra in Iran,” is based on materials and resources collected in Mashhad, Iran. This dissertation breaks new ground in contemporary Iranian religious history by analyzing material artifacts in order to understand Fatima’s changing role in Shi’a religious practice in the period after the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) through the present.

Professor Erik W. Davis’ book, Deathpower: Buddhism’s Ritual Imagination in Cambodia is published, December 2015

Professor Davis draws on his ethnographic work in Cambodia to discuss funerals and the social power that arises from rituals of caring for the dead.

Professor Susanna Drake’s book, Slandering the Jew: Sexuality and Difference in Early Christian Texts is published, 2013

Susanna Drake teaches courses in early Christianity, biblical studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests include early Christian and Jewish relations, gender and sexuality in late antiquity, and biblical interpretation in art and text.
Her current research includes a study of veiling practices in late antiquity. She is the current chair of the Religious Studies Department.