Category: Alumni News

Black Gods of the Asphalt author Onaje Woodbine Profiled by the New York Times

April 22nd, 2016 in Alumni News, News

onajephotoGDRS Alum (PhD 2014) Onaje Woodbine, whose post-graduate theater production and op-ed writing we have previously featured on our site was profiled by the New York Times in anticipation of publication of his first book. Based on his dissertation, Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop and Street Basketball will be available for purchase starting May 24th. You can view and order this book as well as other books authored by GDRS alumni on our Amazon astore.

GDRS Alum Calls for a Rethinking of Collegiate Sports Culture

April 4th, 2016 in Alumni News, News

GDRS Alum Onaje Woodbine (PhD 2014) has pursued an extremely unique line of academic inquiry, both as a GDRS student and since his graduation. His dissertation, titled “The Power of Social Practice: African American Street Basketball and Embodied Spirit” was based on narratives he collected from street basketball players. The stories he collected in his field work were woven into a theatrical performance entitled “In the Paint,” which premiered in Harlem, New York City shortly after Dr. Woodbine’s graduation.

Dr. Woodbine is currently a full-time instructor in philosophy and religious studies at Phillips Academy, Andover. He continues to engage the intersections between basketball, the embodied experience and philosophy. His first book Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball is forthcoming from Columbia University Press in May. In a recent piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Woodbine reflects upon why he felt obliged to quit the Yale basketball team at the height of his game.


When I first joined Yale basketball I was naïve about the business of college athletics, where the primary motivation of university administrators and coaches is to profit from student-athletic labor. Part of my naïvete stemmed from the fact that I grew up in an impoverished black inner-city neighborhood, where coaches functioned as surrogate fathers and mothers, viewing the game as hallowed ground, within which we players could express our stories. Even though my inner city coaches were often less educated, they saw hoops as an extension of our lives, in which players’ deepest thoughts and everyday struggles played a significant role.

How ironic it was then to discover that at one of the greatest institutions of learning in the world, coaches built a tacit but impenetrable wall between athletics and the life of the mind, as if athletes checked their identities at the gymnasium door along with their jackets and hats. Yale coaches made no attempt to get to know me as a person beyond basketball, except when I decided to leave the team. There were no conversations regarding my academic life, no conversations about my personal background and no discussions about the cultural and social responsibilities that come with being a student-athlete at Yale.

Read the whole article on the Chronicle of Higher Education.

GDRS Alumnus Appointed Sultan of Oman Fellow in Islamic Studies at Oxford University

July 16th, 2015 in Alumni News, News


Michael Feener, a GDRS Alumnus and an expert on Islamic jurisprudence and Indonesian culture, has recently been appointed as the Sultan of Oman Fellow in Islamic Studies at Oxford University. Dr. Feener studied with emeritus professor Merlin Swartz and wrote his dissertation on law reform in Indonesia, which became his first book. He currently teaches in the history department of the National University of Singapore. Congratulations and good luck Dr. Feener!

Alumni Earn Tenure and Tenure-Track Positions

September 17th, 2014 in Alumni News, News

Alumni Joe Laycock recently began a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the Philosophy Department at the University of Texas, San Marcos.  UT San Marcos currently only has an option for a religious studies minor and Joe is helping to build and generate interest in a new religious studies major. Joe is teaching courses on world religion, religion and film and charismatic religious figures.

Alumni Echol Nix was granted tenure at Furman University.  Prof. Nix was part of a US delegation the traveled to El Salvador this summer in order to participate in forums honoring the legacy of 6 Jesuit priests who were killed 25 years ago during the country’s bloody civil war.

We wish both of these dynamic alumni continued professional success!

GDRS Student new Assistant Editor of New Testament Abstracts Journal at Boston College

August 14th, 2014 in Alumni News, News

stroupGDRS student Christopher Stroup has been hired as the Assistant Editor of New Testament Abstracts (NTA), a journal published by Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Chris will contribute to the general editorial functions (selection, composition, editing, and publication of content) for the journal. He will be working with with the Editor of NTA to monitor all publications, books and journals, relevant to the modern discipline of New Testament studies,including related material from the Jewish and Hellenistic/ Greco-Roman period; the sub-disciplines of archeology, Rabbinic Judaism, the Dead Sea scrolls, and Gnosticism; and modern hermeneutical and literary, anthropological, social-scientific methods and theories.

Every year NTA abstracts at least 2,150 articles chosen from more than 500 periodicals in numerous languages (primarily English, German, and French) and offers book notices for approximately 850 recently published books.

After finishing his dissertation, Chris will have the opportunity to teach one course per semester at BC’s School of Theology and Ministry.

Recent Graduate Continues her Research, Writing as part of the LDS Church History Department

July 15th, 2014 in Alumni News, News

Kate HolbrookAfter successfully defending her dissertation entitled Radical Food: Nation of Islam and Latter-day Saint Culinary Ideals (1930-1980) this spring, recent graduate Kate Holbrook has kept quite busy.

Kate works as the Specialist in Women’s History for the LDS Church History Department. The department reflects the Mormon Church’s interest in history and includes two hundred employees and five hundred volunteer missionaries, library archives, a museum, twenty four historic sites/visitor centers, and about two hundred historic properties throughout the world. Kate works full time at the library as a historian and writer on projects that include a documentary history of the first fifty years of Relief Society (the women’s organization started in 1842), journal articles, and public presentations. She is also currently working on turning her dissertation into a book, and completing an edited volume based on a conference she organized in August 2012 called, “Women and the LDS Church: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives.”

Recent Graduate turns his Dissertation into Art

July 8th, 2014 in Alumni News, News

onajephotoOnaje X. Offley Woodbine concentrated in Religion and Psychology in the GDRS after earning a Master of Theological Studies at BU’s School of Theology. A native of the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, he graduated from Newton South High School. Onaje spent a post-graduate year at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey before matriculating to Yale. While at Yale he played on the University’s varsity Basketball team and made All-Ivy. Onaje successfully defended his dissertation in March of this year and is already enjoying significant professional success while launching some remarkable projects.

Currently, Onaje is collaborating with co-Directors Anna Meyer and Jay Paris to create a mixed-genre performance entitled In the Paint, which is based on the street basketball narratives he collected during his dissertation research. The show premieres July 21, 2014, in Harlem, NYC, which is the birthplace of street basketball in the United States.

Onaje provided us with the following description of the performance: “In the Paint is a mixed genre performance of the remarkable and true stories of young men who reconnected physically, emotionally, and spiritually to parts of themselves that violence and abandonment had taken. Their journeys are allegories enmeshed to experiences on inner city basketball courts that reveal universal truths encompassing all of us seeking identity and purpose. It is on the court that harsh truths about fear, resistance, loss and the underlying beauty of life surface in revelations of self-discovery that are practical and also profoundly metaphysical. These stories will touch audiences deeply without regard to age, race, or basketball knowledge. In the Paint will be staged in-the-round to engage audiences in the process of self-discovery utilizing storytelling, modern and hip hop dance, Spoken Word, rap, trumpet, and saxophone.”

Christine Hoff Kraemer Develops a Theology of Touch

November 26th, 2013 in Alumni News, News

Christine Kraemer2008 Alum Christine Hoff Kraemer has just had her new book published by Routledge press.  Titled Eros and Touch from a Pagan Perspective: Divided for Love’s Sake, it explores the sacredness of touch. Christine is a Pagan theologian who teaches for Cherry Hill Seminary and edits the Pagan channel of the religion website  Christine’s first book Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies was published by Patheos earlier this year.

This has been quite a year for GDRS (DRTS) alumni publications.  Counting Christine, we have had two alumni receive contracts and three see their work published.

Visit our aStore to view all publications by recent GDRS (DRTS) alumni.

A double congratulations to Christine!  Keep up the great work GDRS (DRTS) alumni!

Alum A. David Lewis Makes a Career of Comic Books

November 21st, 2013 in Alumni News, News

a.davidlewis2012 GDRS (DRTS) graduate A. David Lewis wrote his dissertation on the afterlife and notions of self-hood in superhero comics.  Since his graduation he has continued to build a career around comic books, writing and lecturing on the topic as well as serving on committees for the academic study of both comics and religion.  David earned his undergraduate degree from Brandeis and will give a webinar talk for Brandeis’ career center on December 3.  He and another Brandeis alum will discuss their comics-related careers and give advice to those also interested in working in the field.  We are excited to continue to follow David as he pursues his passion.

Keep an Eye out for these New GDRS (DRTS) Alumni Publications!

September 27th, 2013 in Alumni News, News

A number GDRS (DRTS) alumni have been quite busy recently. There are three new books coming out by GDRS (DRTS) Alumni; two are already on shelves and two others have been accepted by publishers.

Kei Eun Chang (2009) had his dissertation published by Bloomsbury under the title The Community, the Individual and the Common Good: To Idion and To Sympheron in the Greco-Roman World and Paul. You can learn more about the book on the publisher’s website.

Sarah E. Fredericks (2007), Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religion Studies at the University of North Texas published the title Measuring and Evaluating Sustainability: Ethics in Sustainability Indexes in the Routledge Studies in Sustainable Development series. You can learn more about the book on the publisher’s website.

Matthew Pierce (2013) has had his revised dissertations accepted for publication.  Matt’s dissertation research, which focused on Medieval Shi’ite Muslim narratives, is scheduled to be published by Harvard University Press in 2015.

Joe Laycock (2012) had his dissertation work accepted for publication by Oxford University Press.  His dissertation focused on Veronica Lueken and Marian movements in American Catholicism.

Congratulations and great work Kei Eun, Sarah, Matt and Joe!