My teaching interests encompass: Religion and Medicine, Indigenous American Religion and Healing Traditions, Religion in America, Early Modern Christian Thought, Biomedical Ethics, the History of Medicine, and of course, Leprosy (Hansen’s disease).
I currently have a full-time postdoctoral appointment as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago in both the Divinity School and the College. Within the Division of Social Sciences, I am teaching sections of “Global Society” and “Self, Culture, and Society” as part of the College’s Common Core curriculum. Between these Core classes, I have taught a diverse catalog of seminal texts in social theory and history/philosophy of science including: Thomas More’s Utopia, Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, Jonathan Metzl’s The Protest Psychosis, Bruno Latour’s The Pasteurization of France, and Edward Said’s Orientalism.
The appointment also entails teaching courses of my own design in the University of Chicago’s Undergraduate Program in Religious Studies. This includes my course, RLST 26302 “Religion, Medicine, and the Experience of Illness,” (cross-listed as HIPS 26312, SOCI 20542, HLTH 26302, KNOW 26302, HIST 24923, CCTS 21012) which introduces students to a diverse array of literature and case studies while investigating how religious traditions furnish an explanatory reservoir for what I term the “three C’s” or questions of causation, coping, and curing vis-à-vis the experience of illness. In Fall 2022, I am teaching RLST 26301 “Religion and AIDS,” (cross-listed as CHST 27501, PBPL 25301, HLTH 26301, HIPS 26301, CCTS 21014, GNSE 23142, HIST 28007, SOCI 20563) which interrogates whether it’s possible to understand current debates over public health or the role of religion in the public sphere without first examining religious responses to the AIDS crisis. Students taking the class will also be able to hear from a series of guest speakers who played important roles in responding to the AIDS epidemic in Chicago. I will teach RLST 26316 “Medical Innovation and Religious Reform in the Enlightenment,” (cross-listed as CCTS 21013, HIST 24924, HLTH 26316, HIPS 26316) in Winter 2023. Through a survey of innovative medical authorities and religious reformers, students in the course will investigate the co-constitution of these two bodies of knowledge at a historical moment when questions of authority and epistemology are in considerable flux.
I am also excited about my Winter 2023 course, RLST 27501 “Indigenous Religions, Health, and Healing (cross-listed as HLTH 27501, HIPS 26316, CCTS 21016, CHST 27501). This course will introduce students to the dynamic, often-contested understandings of health, healing, and religion among the Indigenous peoples of the Americas with the ultimate goal that a more robust understanding of Indigenous healing traditions will augment our own approaches to global/public health and the study of religion. Students will also have the opportunity to visit the Newberry Library’s Edward E. Ayer Collection on American Indian and Indigenous Studies (one of the best in North America). This particular course also owes a lot to a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative Professional Development Grant which enabled me to further incorporate postcolonial studies and Indigenous sources into my teaching. I am proud to have been a part of the first cohort of Divinity School Inclusive Pedagogy Fellows. The Inclusive Pedagogy Fellows are a select group of Divinity School PhD students working together to learn best practices for teaching college students.
I was an Alma Wilson Teaching Fellow for the 2019-2020 academic year. The Alma Wilson Lectureship is an opportunity for one or two graduate students from the Divinity School to teach a course of his or her own design in the University of Chicago’s Undergraduate Program in Religious Studies. I used that lectureship to teach the first iteration of my “Religion, Medicine, and Illness” course.
Throughout my graduate studies, I worked as a teaching assistant to several professors, including Professor Russell Johnson for his undergraduate course, “Star Wars and Religion.” The University of Chicago actually composed a profile on this innovative course (https://news.uchicago.edu/story/force-strong-one-course-uses-star-wars-examine-religion). During the course, I lectured on The Life of Martin of Tours by Sulpicius Severus, explaining the significance of hagiography and the cult of saints for medieval Christians and problematizing the traditional understanding of saints first outlined by Émile Durkheim. As an undergraduate at Truman State University I served as a co-instructor with Professor Dereck Daschke for the course, “Religion and Film.” The course was actually of my own design and is still being offered. But I created the initial syllabus, in addition to organizing a Religion and Film Festival, as a Student Initiated Learning Course.
Featured Image: Watercolor by Richard Tennant Cooper (1885-1957) (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)