THE COMMITTEE FOR THE STUDY OF RELIGION PRESENTS
BLACK AMERICAN POPULAR RELIGION
Friday, November 4th, 2011
11.00 am – 7.00 pm
The Martin E. Segal Theatre
CUNY Graduate Center | 365 Fifth Ave @ 34th Street
Free and open to the public
Josef Sorett (Columbia University)
11a – 12.30p: Spirit in the Art(s): Black Religion and the Problem of the Popular
Respondent: Adrienne Lotson
Michael Eric Dyson (Georgetown University)
2p – 4p: God Complex, Complex gods, or God’s Complex? Jay Z, Poor Black Youth, and Making ‘The Struggle’ Divine
Respondent: Bryan Turner
Marla Frederick (Harvard University)
5p – 7p: Colored Television: Black Religion in Global Context
Respondent: Mara Einstein
Josef Sorett is assistant professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Columbia University. An interdisciplinary historian of religion in America, Sorett’s work addresses black communities and cultures in the United States. His research and teaching interests include American religious history; African American religions; hip hop, popular culture and the arts; gender and sexuality; and the role of religion in public life. Josef earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Harvard University; and he holds a B.S. from Oral Roberts University and an M.Div. from Boston University. Josef has received fellowships from the Louisville Institute for the Study of American Religion, The Fund for Theological Education, Harvard’s Charles Warren Center for American History and Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies. He has published essays and reviews in Culture and Religion, Callaloo, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and PNEUMA: Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Josef’s current book project, That Spirit is Black: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (under contract with Oxford University Press) illumines how religion has figured into debates about black art and culture. He is also editing a volume exploring the sexual politics of black churches.
Michael Eric Dyson is an academic, author, social activist, Baptist minister, and preacher and radio host. Dyson is Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has so far authored and edited 17 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Marvin Gaye, Nas’s debut album Illmatic, Bill Cosby, and Hurricane Katrina. Dyson has won numerous prestigious honors, from an American Book Award to NAACP Image award that he received twice. His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X became a New York Times notable book of the year. His 2005 New York Times bestseller Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? helped to jump start a national conversation on the black poor. In his 2010 edited book Born to Use Mics, he focused on how the current US penal system disfavors young black males more than any other segment of the population. Dyson hosted a radio show, which aired on Radio One, from January 2006 to February 2007. He was also a commentator on National Public Radio and CNN, and is a regular guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. Beginning July 2011 Michael Eric Dyson became a political analyst for MSNBC.
Marla Frederick is Professor of African and African American Studies and the Study of Religion at Harvard University, and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion. She is the author of Between Sundays: Black Women and Everyday Struggles of Faith, an ethnography of the complex lives and faith commitments of women in rural North Carolina. Her co-authored book, Local Democracy Under Siege: Activism, Public Interests and Private Politics, won the 2008 Best Book Award from the Society for the Anthropology of North America. Frederick’s research addresses the intersections of religion, race, gender, media, politics and economics. She is currently completing an ethnography entitled, “Colored Television: Religion, Media and Racial Uplift in the Black Atlantic World”, teasing out a triangulated approach to understanding how African American producers, distributors and consumers of religious broadcasting approach and make meaning of mediated religion. It addresses concerns related to the rise of prosperity ministries in poor communities as well as the dramatic rise of African American religious broadcasters on television. She is also co-authoring a manuscript with anthropologists John Jackson and Carolyn Rouse, entitled “Televised Redemption,” on how Black Muslims, Christians and Hebrew Israelites use media in the strategic deployment of their racial, economic and religious views of social uplift.