On October 28-29, 2016 University of Lethbridge History MA student Brendan Cummins participated in the “Ways of Knowing” Conference at Harvard University’s Divinity School. Drawing from his undergraduate Honours Thesis, also completed at Lethbridge, Brendan presented a paper and took part in two days of collaborative and informative discussion with panels and papers across multiple disciplines and on a wide variety of religious topics. The conference was organized by the Science, Religion and Culture program at the Divinity School and was attended by graduate and post-graduate scholars from across North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
The keynote address, “Studying Up? A Brief History on the ‘Religion of the Future’,” was given by Professor Courtney Bender, Chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. Conference panels included discussions of the sense of time in Islam; the importance of sound, music, and song in modern day Christian worship; imagery, memory, and taboo in Judaism; and the intersection of race, religion, and politics across time, space, and cultures. Brendan’s paper, “Sole and Exclusive: Power, Control and Violence in the Utah Territory, 1847-1857,” analyzed the way the Latter-day Saints actively pursued complete secular and spiritual control over Utah in order to fulfill the prophecy of an imminent Kingdom of God. A link to the conference program is here: http://projects.iq.harvard.edu/gradreligionconference
Brendan comments that one of the best parts of the experience was his ability to actively participate at this academic level, due in large part to the quality and quantity of preparation and work encouraged by the University of Lethbridge. We are delighted that Brendan presented at Harvard, and just two months after entering the MA program here. Brendan and the History Department are grateful for funding provided by the Faculty of Arts & Science for his participation in this conference.