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Religious Studies Faculty
Dr. Kay Jordan
Professor of Religious Studies
Ph.D. University of Iowa
Dr. Susan Kwilecki
Professor of Religious Studies
Teaching interests: I like to study religious life in its strongest, most dramatic forms. Thus, in addition to the intro level courses, I teach:
- RELN 206: Survey of Religious Experiences: Academic study of Near Death and mystical experiences, demon possession, angel and ghost encounters, channeling.
- RELN 370: American Sects and Cults: The controversy generated by “dangerous” religions such as the Peoples Temple (900 people drank poisoned Kool-Aid) and Heaven’s Gate (members committed suicide in order to board a spacecraft).
- RELN 381: Religion and Death: The myriad ways religions depict and address the harsh reality that we all die—views of the afterlife, contact with the dead, funerals.
Research interests: Focuses on After-Death Communications, a contemporary American type of ghost encounter. Spirits of deceased loved ones reportedly contact grief-stricken survivors through visions, dreams, voices, odors, coincidences, the computer, or the telephone. “I’m okay, I’m nearby, I love you,” say the ghosts, who are described as healthy, happy, kind, and helpful—in contrast to the vindictive, preachy, frightening apparitions reported in other cultural settings.
Dr. Paul Brian Thomas
Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Chair
Ph.D. University of Missouri - Kansas City
Teaching interests: If you want classes about the Bible, I am your man! My biblical studies repertoire at Radford University includes Exploring the Old Testament and Exploring the New Testament. Both these classes are thematic in nature and include discussion of topics like family, gender, power, body image, sex, and social class (among many others) as they are represented in the Bible. You don't want to miss my topics courses, which include The Bible and Cultural Criticism and the Horrible and the Monstrous in the Old Testament! The Bible and Cultural Criticism explores the representation of the Bible in popular culture as well as examining the appropriation strategies of various readers. The Horrible and the Monstrous in the Old Testament not only analyzes the Bible's monsters (Goliath, Levianthan, etc.), but also those people and entities that do horrible things (including rape, murder, genocide, etc.) in the Bible.
I also teach Sacred Texts of the West, which includes (in one semester) a brief survey of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qur'an. If you need a Qur'anic fix, this is the place to be. We also have a good time exploring a variety of religions in Survey of World Religions (including Hinduism and Buddhism) while in Introduction to Religion, I will tickle your brain, and sometimes shock you, as we explore the concept of religion.
Research interests: My research interests focus upon the monstrous in the Bible as well as appropriations of Bible themes in various religious traditions. In other words, I write about really cool stuff! Interested in year 2012 speculation? Look for my forthcoming article in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture titled "Meme Splicing Genesis 6:1-4 and the Apocalypse of 2012. I also recently guest edited a recent special issue of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions devoted to ETI-religions (commonly known as UFO cults). My contribution to this issue, "Revisionism in ET-Inspired Religions" looks at the ways in which ETI Religions appropriate biblical themes.
Hobbies and outside interests: So, what am I doing if I am not teaching about monsters or reading about monsters? Most likely, hiking! I am an avid naturalist and am firmly convinced that my time in the outdoors keeps me sane (and healthy).
Dr. Carter Turner
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Ph.D. Iliff School of Theology, University of Denver
Bio and Research Interests: Dr. Carter Turner is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Radford University. A native of Virginia, Dr. Turner has a history degree from Virginia Tech, and earned a Ph.D. in religious and theological studies from the University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology. He teaches and writes on religion and the American Civil War, religion and sports, and religion and politics. Dr. Turner lives in Roanoke County with his wife Karen and their daughter, Callaway.