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- Department Name
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. Geoffrey Pollick
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Ph.D., Drew University
Geoffrey Pollick studies the history and culture of religion in America. He teaches courses that explore broad questions of religion's meanings and uses; comparative studies of religious difference; American religious history; surveys of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; religion in Latin America; and courses that consider the relationship between religion and the secular, and the role and definition of religious tolerance and intolerance. His scholarship emphasizes religion’s entanglements with political radicalism in the United States; the role and dimensions of religious liberalism; women’s religious leadership; critical theory and cultural history of religion; and religion in popular culture. His current research projects explore mutual influences between liberal Protestants and secular radicals in the prewar New York Left; the political and social dimensions of women’s ordination during the late nineteenth century; and the effects of consumer practice on collective identity formation among late-twentieth-century U.S. evangelical Christians. Before coming to Radford University, Dr. Pollick held positions at Sweet Briar College, New York University, Kean University, and Drew University.
Dr. Paul Brian Thomas
Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Chair
Ph.D. University of Missouri - Kansas City
Teaching interests: Without a doubt, my teaching interests are rather eclectic. My biblical studies repertoire at Radford University includes Exploring the Old Testament and Exploring the New Testament. Both of these courses 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 have included The Bible and Cultural Criticism and the Cultural Significance of Monsters. The Bible and Cultural Criticism course explores representations of the Bible in popular culture as well as examining the appropriation strategies of various readers. The Cultural Significance of Monsters is a trip down American history through the lens of the monsters we create. Want to know what Frankenstein had to do with the African slave trade? Do you wonder about the connection between zombies and 9/11? Then this is the course for you.
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. I 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 really enjoy challenging students’ preconceived understanding of religion.
Research interests: My research interests focus on how people use and read the Bible. This allows me to write about really cool stuff! My current book (Bloomsbury, forthcoming) looks at how the Bible is used by young-Earth creationists at the Kentucky Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. My previous work considered how Genesis 6:1-4 factored into certain year 2012 apocalyptic scenarios. I also served as a guest editor for 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" examined how ETI Religions appropriate biblical themes.