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    Dr. Carol Coburn:

  • Upcoming presentations:
    • Dr. Coburn is an invited panelist for a special conference at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies on October 9, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Catholic University and the University of Notre Dame, the webinar, "Catholic Archives in the Digital Age: A Conference of Reporters, Archivists and Scholars," will discuss relevant issues for Catholic institutions, archives, and scholars concerning technology's impact on preservation and accessibility of important historical documents. This event will be streamed live here.
  • Recent presentations:
    • Dr. Coburn attended the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama, March 1-3, 2013. Because of her consulting work on the PBS documentary film, "Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change," Dr. Coburn was chosen by the Faith and Politics Institution in Washington to participate in the three day delegation to Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma. Led by Congressman John Lewis, this pilgrimage included a "bipartisan, interfaith" delegation from Washington and from across the country who traveled together and visited historic Civil Rights' venues, including churches, memorials, and museums. The pilgrimage concluded with a church service in Brown Chapel and a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. This pilgrimage commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversaries of the desegregation of the University of Alabama, Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, the Children's March, the March on Washington, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
    Dr. Leslie Dorrough Smith:

  • As Director of the Women's & Gender Studies at Avila, Dr. Dorrough Smith has been active in recruiting new minors, in designing a robust program and in teaching courses on feminist theory.
  • Attended the 2012 American Academy of Religion (Chicago) and participated in a working group called Culture on the Edge. This is "a two-year, international scholarly working group tackling the problem of how to examine the historicity of identity, always fluid over place and time, without positing a static and ahistorical origin against which cultural change can be measured. This international working group of seven scholars, trained in different disciplines that all address issues of culture and identity, has initiated a two-year scholarly project to produce a multi-authored book that examines the theoretical disconnects in academic discourses on diaspora, identity, and creolization and to consider ways to add new and productive conversations to those and related fields." The group has successfully secured a contract with Equinox Publishers, and is working on the production of a multi-volume series addressing the various facets of these issues. Dr. Dorrough Smith's chapter in the contracted volume is entitled "Writing Women Out of Woman".
  • Offered a contract on her book from Oxford University Press entitled Righteous Rhetoric: Concerned Women for America and the Sexual Politics of the New Religious Right. Scholars who study the New Christian Right (NCR) often claim that the movement's distinction lies in its absolutist theologies and religious fervor. Crafting Chaos considers how one particularly powerful, yet understudied, NCR group troubles that reading of the modern American political scene. Through a detailed rhetorical study of primary documents from one of the nation's leading conservative Christian women's organizations, Concerned Women for America (CWA), Crafting Chaos argues that the absolute, ordered platforms for which CWA is often known are not the linchpin of its political power. Rather, such absolutes are the byproduct of a more fundamental rhetorical process called "chaos rhetoric," a type of speech that invokes widespread public appeal through its frequent deployment of specific symbols designed to create a heightened sense of social chaos and threat (rather than the order and security that scholars often describe). By carefully manufacturing these negative emotions, the group is in a prime position to offer its own platforms as the resolution to the threat.
    Dr. Ken Parsons:

  • In August of 2013 Dr. Parsons officially became the new Director for the Center for Global Studies & Social Justice. While he continues to chair the department of Religious Studies & Philosophy for the 2013-14 academic year, his work mainly involves further developing the areas of support for study abroad and study away courses, seeking out funding for students to have educational experiences abroad, managing the web presence and campus activities associated with the Center as well as a few other activities.
  • As part of the IS/RS Issues in Social Justice course, Drs. Parsons and Origanti took students to India, March 6-17, 2013. In visiting Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Chennai and Kochi, students experienced and reflected upon economic, environmental, spiritual and social relations and how these impact the marginal, vulnerable and oppressed groups within Indian society. For more information, see the course blog.

Avila University
11901 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO 64145
Religious Studies & Philosophy
Ken Parsons, Ph.D., Chair, Religious Studies & Philosophy