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Divinity School Doctoral Diploma and Hooding Ceremony, June 2018

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Divinity School Doctoral Diploma and Hooding Ceremony, June 2018


DAVID NIRENBERG:
Please be seated. My name is David Nirenberg. I’m the new dean of
the Divinity School. And on behalf of the
Divinity School faculty and together with the
entire Swift Hall community, it’s my pleasure to welcome
you, graduates, family members, friends, current students
to this special graduation ceremony in the Divinity
School, held in conjunction with the 531st convocation. William Rainey Harper, who
was the first president of the University of Chicago
and whom we constantly cite as our founding president
believed that we should have for convocations a
year, four, I won’t call them graduations, four
gatherings to recognize the work of our students
who had finished their significant
accomplishment. So we’re at a 531st,
which might make you think we are as old as
Cambridge, Oxford, Salamanca, Bologna, and Paris. Now until recently the practice
was to have these four. Now we have only one. So we’re all gathered
here for everyone who’s graduated in
any of these quarters. We may not be as old as
Paris, but we do have traditions we hold very dear. And the dearest one
is this ceremony that we hold here on the quasi
sacred grounds of Swift Hall to honor our graduates and
to celebrate the well-earned and hard earned accomplishments. We’re glad to see you
here at this place and at this auspicious moment. Thank you for coming. Now joining me on
the podium today are members of the Divinity
School faculty and the broader university faculty. And I am pleased to
introduce– please stand when I call your name, but I
will abbreviate titles, because we have a very
distinguished faculty with a long list of titles. Paul Cheney, Professor
of European History in the Department of History. Ryan Coyne, Associate
Professor of the Philosophy of Religions and Theology. Kristine Culp, Associate
Professor of Theology and Dean of the Disciples Divinity House. Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade,
Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions. Paul Mendes-Flohr, Dorothy
Grant Maclear Professor of Modern Jewish
History and Thought. Sarah Hammerschlag,
Associate Professor of Religion and Literature,
Philosophy of Religions and a History of Judaism. I won’t abbreviate too much. Kevin Hector, Associate
Professor of Theology and of the Philosophy
of Religions. Heather Keenleyside, Associate
Professor of English, Department of English
Language and Literature. Bruce Lincoln, Caroline E.
Haskell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of
the History of Religions in the Divinity School. Cynthia Gano Lindner,
Director of Ministry Studies and Clinical Faculty for
Preaching and Pastoral Care. Richard Miller, Laura
Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Religious Ethics. Omar McRoberts, Associate
Professor Department of Sociology. Margaret M. Mitchell,
Shailer Matthews Professor of New Testament and Early
Christian Literature. Willemien Otten,
Professor of Theology and the History of Christianity. Richard Rosengarten,
Associate Professor of Religion and Literature
and Visual Culture. Susan Schreiner,
Professor of the History of Christianity and Theology. William Schweiker. Edward L. Ryerson
Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics. Michael Sells, John
Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History
and Literature. And Jeffrey Stackert, Associate
Professor of Hebrew Bible. It’s my special pleasure to
introduce my colleague, Joshua Feigelson, Dean of Students
in the Divinity School, who will add his
words of greeting. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Thank
you Dean Nirenberg, and welcome to our graduates,
your families, friends, and loved ones on
this very special day. This ceremony is my first
as dean of students, and so it is a
particularly special one. I join with Dean Nirenberg,
all of the faculty and staff, and the many people who have
supported you on your journey in celebrating with
you as together, we mark this major
milestone in your life. You have each worked hard
and diligently to arrive at this day, and we
are all so very proud of your accomplishments. Savor the moment. I also want to add
that many people here have given of their
time and talents to make this ceremony
possible, and in Particular, I want to
thank my colleagues in the Dean of Students Office– Americia Huckabee, and
Associate Dean of Students Anita Lumpkin, as well Sarah
Bigger, Barbara Palmer-Bostick, Terren Wein, Bill Geraci, and
Associate Dean Sandra Peppers, who have all been instrumental
in arranging the many details of today’s events. Let me conclude by
inviting you to join us after the recessional
on the first floor for a festive reception. Even the life of the mind
requires physical sustenance. When we get to
the recessional, I would ask that you please
remain in your seats until the faculty and
graduates have processed out, and there will be ushers
to direct you downstairs. We also ask that you
do that expeditiously, as we need to reset the room
for our master’s ceremony, which will begin at 100 PM. Again, welcome and
congratulations. DAVID NIRENBERG:
The Divinity School has been the graduate
and professional school for the academic
study of religion since the founding of
the university in 1891. And it has always been at the
very center of the university, in fact a physically
literal center. The school educates students
in the profession of studying and speaking in an intelligent,
knowledgeable, critical, rigorous, and
honestly engaged way about religion, an incredibly
important topic to humanity, that is not always spoken
of using those adjectives, not always spoken of
intelligently, knowledgeably, critically, rigorously,
or in an engaged way. Swift Hall has been and
is host to a conversation from the widest possible range
of perspectives and interests in the study of religion and
its many manifestations, past and present, all set within
a great research university, if I may boast about the
University of Chicago, that is the University of
Chicago, with its defining values of critical thinking
and advancement of knowledge, so that in our words of our
motto, human life may flourish. Each of our graduates
has contributed to that flourishing, producing
an original and independent and important work of
scholarship on religion. We shall now proceed to
honor each of our graduates. This year, we happily have
an unusually large number, which is why we have divided
this ceremony into two. This afternoon, we recognized
24 doctoral graduates, who earlier today were
awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the Board of
Trustees and the university and welcomed into this
honorable company of scholars. These doctorands have completed
a rigorous course of study in one of the 11 areas of
specialization of the Divinity School, including extensive
coursework, examination in many languages, both ancient
and modern, comprehensive written and oral
qualifying exams, and the research and writing
of a dissertation that has been approved by
the faculty of committee in their field of study as a
substantial and original piece of research. They are trained
as professionals, as research scholars and
teachers and educators in the academic
study of religion. It’s my honor to present
you with the diplomas you have earned. These doctorands have
not only gone in pursuit, but they have found scientia. The PhD degree is a research
degree only received and the candidate has made
an original contribution to knowledge, to
humanistic knowledge. We wish to recognize
that by sending them forth with the gift from
Swift Hall, the hood that they now have the right
and the privilege to wear, which uniquely marks them
as a Doctor of Philosophy, graduate of the University
of Chicago Divinity School. So students please
remain seated, and stand only when
your name is called. We’ll now present
diplomas and hoods to the Doctor of
Philosophy graduates. I will be assisted by
members of the faculty, who have served as advisors on
their doctoral dissertation. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: [? Palim ?]
[? Chalish, ?] hooded by Professor Michael Sells. DAVID NIRENBERG: [? Program ?]
of study in Islamic Studies, doctoral dissertation entitled
[? Akbari ?] Hermeneutics in [? Shamsudeen’s ?] Quran
Commentary on the Chapter Al-Fatiha. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Daniel Alan Yingst, hooded by Professor
Willamien Otten. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
the History of Christianity, dissertation entitled
Towers in the Mud, Honorius Augustodunensis
Through the Lens of Pedagogy. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Kristel Ann Clayville, hooded by Professor
William Schweiker. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
Religious Ethics, dissertation entitled Responsible
Hermeneutics, Creation and Law in the Environmental Ethics of
Hans Jonas and Holmes Rolston. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Brett Daniel Colasacco, hooded by Professor
Richard Rosengarten. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program
in Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture, dissertation
entitled Robinson Jeffers, Poet at the End of the World. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Julius Crump, hooded by Professor Kevin Hector. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
Theology, dissertation entitled At the Limits of God
Talk, Publics, Politics, Conversations. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Alison
[? Tyner ?] Davis, hooded by Professor
Richard Rosengarten. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program
in Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture, dissertation
entitled Troping Protestant Desire, Patterns
of Time and Space in 19th Century American
Religious History. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Mary
Emily Briehl Duba, hooded by Professor
Kevin Hector. DAVID NIRENBERG:
Program in Theology, dissertation
entitled God is Here, a Theology of Place
and Displacement. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Andrew Francis Durdin, hooded by Professor
Bruce Lincoln. DAVID NIRENBERG:
Program in the History of Religions, dissertation
entitled Re-describing Magic, Discourse, Alterity, and
Religion in the Roman World. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Liane
[? Marquis ?] Feldman, hooded by Professor
Jeffrey Stackert. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
Biblical Studies, dissertation entitled Story and Sacrifice,
Ritual Narrative and Priestly Source. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
David N. Gottlieb, hooded by Professor
Paul Mendes-Flohr. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program
in the History of Judaism, dissertation entitled Second
Slayings, the Binding of Isaac, Interpretations of
Sacrifice, and the Formation of Midrashic Memory.S JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Nora
Jacobson Ben Hammed, hooded by Professor
Michael Sells. You want to take that. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
Islamic Studies, dissertation entitled Knowledge and
Felicity of the Soul in Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Andrew Mark Langford, hooded by Professor
Margaret Mitchell. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
Biblical Studies, dissertation entitled Diagnosing Deviance,
Pathology and Polemic in the Pastoral Epistles. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: [? Junyan ?]
[? Li, ?] hooded by Professor William Schweiker. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
Religious Ethics, dissertation entitled Reclaiming Love
in the Face of the Void in Iris Murdoch’s Thought. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Ekaterina
Nikitina Lomparis, hooded by Professor
Susan Schreiner. DAVID NIRENBERG:
Program in Theology and History of Christianity,
dissertation entitled Human Bodies in Pain as
Spiritual Battlefields, Illness, Medicine,
and Healing in Early Modern and Contemporary
Christian Thought. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
David Patrick Lyons, hooded by Professor
Paul Mendes-Flohr. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
the History of Christianity, dissertation entitled
Philosophy, Politeness, and Party, David Hume and the
Constitution of a Modern Social Order. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Katharine
Elizabeth Mershon, hooded by professors Richard
Rosengarten and Heather Keenleyside. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program
in Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture, dissertation
entitled Canine Redemption Narratives in the American
Imaginary, 1981 to 2001. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Jawad Anwar Quereshi, hooded by Professor
Michael Sells. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
Islamic Studies, dissertation entitled Sunni Tradition in an
Age of Revival and Reform, Said Ramadan al-Bouti, 1929 to
2013, and His Interlocutors. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Myriam Renaud,
hooded by Professor William Schweiker. DAVID NIRENBERG:
Program in Theology, dissertation entitled Toward
a Global Humanistic Theology, Constructing Moral
Concepts of God. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Sunit Sarvraj Singh, hooded by Professor
Wendy Doniger. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program
in History of Religions, dissertation entitled
Echoes of Freedom, Radical Indian Thought and
International Socialism, 1995 to 1920. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Jordan Eugene Skornik, hooded by Professor
Jeffrey Stackert. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program
in Biblical Studies, dissertation entitled
Paradigms and Possibilities, on Literary Prophecy
in the Hebrew Bible. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: Willa
Cornelius Swenson-Lengyl, hooded by Professor
William Schweiker. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program in
Religious Ethics, dissertation entitled The Future of Hope.
on Climate Inaction and Moral Agency. JOSHUA FEIGELSON:
Dilara Kadriye Uskup, hooded by Professor
Omar McRoberts. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program
in Theology, dissertation entitled Sex in
God’s City, Theology as Political Persuasion. JOSHUA FEIGELSON: And
finally, R.L. Watson, hooded by Professor
Richard Rosengarten. DAVID NIRENBERG: Program
in Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture, dissertation
entitled Children of Darkness, Children of the Mask, an
Examination of the Moral Effects of Metaphors of Darkness
on the Representational Lives of Black Americans. To the audience,
please rise and join me in another round of applause
for 2018 doctoral graduates. It is a special pleasure
to present the university’s Graduate Teaching Award to
Professor Susan Schreiner. Susan, please step
forward while I read the citation written by
our colleague Bill Schweiker. “Susan Schreiner
is a leading figure in the field of the
history of Christianity. She has mentored
generations of scholars, who hold positions at
universities and colleges around the country. Her passion for ideas and
dedication to teaching have evoked trust, care,
and enduring friendship from her students. They marvel at her lectures
on the history of thought and seek to carry on her
manner of scholarly thinking. Her groundbreaking scholarship
on doubt and the search for certainty in the
early modern era, nature, and the natural order,
and medieval and modern perspectives on Calvin’s
exegesis of the Book of Job have broadened the
study of the Renaissance and the Reformation. Her teaching and research
casts new and profound light on the wisdom of the past.” The citation on the
certificate that I’m about to present to Susan
Schreiner reads as follows. “Engaging advisor, brilliant
lecturer, and creative scholar, Susan Schreiner has cast
new and profound light on the Renaissance
and the Reformation. Her dedication to
teaching and her keen wit have evoked enduring
admiration and friendship from her students.” So before we depart, I’d
like to take the opportunity, the privilege to address
a few words to you, whom we have the honor
to recognize today as you stand on the threshold
of a new phase of your lives. Anthropologists call
such moments liminal, from the Latin
“limen,” threshold. And the great
University of Chicago anthropologist, Victor
Turner, dedicated his life to studying ceremonies of
the limen, of the liminal, rituals he called them
betwixt and between. And we are currently in
such a ceremony today. It’s a highly
formal performance, marked by ceremonial
entry into and exit from a quasi sacred space. I should just say sacred. Swift Hall is sacred,
not quasi sacred. Repetition of ritual
formulas and of course, the wearing of
liturgical vestments. Those vestments, and indeed,
many aspects of this ritual have roots stretching
down to the Middle Ages, [NON-ENGLISH] and
my favorite period. Your gowns, hoods, caps,
tassels, and titles all have accumulated meaning
over the centuries. Some of that meaning,
you’ve already heard expressed in the formula
invoked over each of you today, welcoming you to membership
in an ancient and honorable company of scholars. Today’s ceremonies do not merely
transfer to you a transcript or a professional credential. They usher you into a community. That community
includes everyone who has ever, from when
universities first appeared in the 12th century
until today, everyone who has ever experienced the
discipline of a faculty, sometimes a severe
discipline, to be sure, and emerged with a degree
of Master or Doctor. Of course, not all
of those degrees have been from the University
of Chicago, just the best ones. But all have shared
the common ideal of subjecting opinion,
prejudice, authority, dogma, and expedience to the
test of critical thought. As you know, that test
is not an easy one. The ancient Greeks
used to say that one must suffer into learning. It rhymes in Greek, [GREEK]. Many resources, material,
intellectual, emotional are required to join
this honorable company. One among those
many resources is time, by which I mean not
only the considerable time it takes to get an advanced
degree, but more importantly the special sensibility
towards time that the kind of thinking
you have been doing these past years
requires, the ability to set aside the constant
calls of the world around us, to step out of the demands
of the immediate present, and to dwell on the longer
term of an impossibly complex field and an
impossibly difficult problem. Today’s ceremony
marks your departure from a special space of
thought, a space in which even the architecture
constantly reminds us that the time scales of
our inquiry and research are somehow different from
those of the everyday world. There’s a reason why
Gothic is the architecture of so many universities. No matter what road you
take, when you process out of these doors in
a moment, you will enter a world whose clocks tick
to a different rhythm, a world where the rumbling
of the present feels louder, and
sometimes threatens to fill the space of thought. I don’t want to delay your
entry into the world any longer, but as you enter it,
I remind you only of the obligation
that comes, with being part of our ancient
and honorable company. You, your families,
your faculty, indeed society as a whole have
all made enormous sacrifices, so that you could
step outside of time and gain the power to
question, and if necessary, to transform the convictions
and the certainties of the present about religion. As you step out
of today’s ritual and back into the
flow of worldly time, wearing your medieval gowns,
mortar boards, and hoods, your obligation is never
to forget that power, and to use it
whenever and wherever the world needs it most. As for me, it’s not my
obligation, but rather my honor, my
privilege, and my joy to thank you for
having chosen to join with us in our
community of inquiry, to congratulate you on
behalf of the Divinity School and the University of Chicago,
and to lead our procession back into a world that awaits
and desperately needs you. Thank you. Congratulations. Good luck.

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