Boston University
Who We Are

Directorial Committee, 2008-2009

Emine Fetvaci
Asst. Professor, Dept. of Art History
Arts of the book in the Islamic world; Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid art and architecture
departmental profile

BA, Williams College; PhD, Harvard University
Art historian Emine Fetvaci is interested in issues such as the codification of a historical record, the creation of collective memory, and the connections between artistic patronage and self-fashioning in early-modern courtly societies. Her research areas include the arts of the book in the Islamic world, and Ottoman, Mughal and Safavid art and architecture. Her dissertation, “Viziers to Eunuchs: Transitions in Ottoman Manuscript Patronage, 1566-1617,” is a re-evaluation of the most prolific period in Ottoman manuscript production through a study of the networks of political and artistic patronage in court.


Donna Freitas
Asst. Professor, Dept. of Religion
Religion and literature; gender and sexuality; American religious culture
departmental profile

BA, Georgetown; PhD, Catholic University
Donna Freitas’s research focuses on American religious culture, with special attention to struggles of belonging and alienation with regard to faith, particularly among young adults and especially with regard to young women. Her most recent book, Sex and the Soul (Oxford, March 2007), is based on a national study about the influence of sexuality and romantic relationships on the spiritual identities of America’s college students.  Her other work includes Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman’s Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2007), which explores the religious and ethical dimensions of young adult author Pullman’s award-winning trilogy; she is also a regular contributor to The Washington Post/Newsweek’s online panel “On Faith,” the religion webzine Beliefnet, and Publishers Weekly.  Her most recently published book is The Possibilities of Sainthood (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008), a novel for young adults that tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who aspires to become the first official living saint in Catholic history. 


Abigail Gillman
Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Modern Languages & Comparative Literatures
German and Hebrew; German Jewish thought; modernism
departmental profile

BA, Yale University; PhD, Harvard University
Abigail Gillman's research interests include German Jewish literature and thought, Austrian literature, modernism, memory (literary, religious, cultural), Biblical and Rabbinic texts, Bible translation, modern Hebrew literature, and foreign-language pedagogy.  She teaches courses on Franz Kafka, nineteenth-century German literature, Vienna in 1900, modern Hebrew literature, German-Jewish Literature and Thought, and the literary afterlife of the book of Genesis. Professor Gillman presently oversees both the Hebrew and German sections of MLCL.  Her first book, Viennese Jewish Modernism: Freud, Hofmannsthal, Beer-Hofmann, and Schnitzler, will be published by Pennsylvania State University Press in 2009.


Jennifer Knust
Asst. Professor, School of Theology and Dept. of Religion
New Testament and Christian Origins
departmental profile

BS, University of Illinois, Urbana; MDiv, Union Theological Seminary; PhD, Columbia University
Professor Knust teaches and conducts research in the areas of the history of interpretation, New Testament textual criticism, ancient rhetoric and early Christian discourse, and the intersection of sex, gender, and status in ancient Christian argumentation. Her publications include Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity(NY: Columbia University Press, 2005) and essays on the letters of Paul, deutero-Pauline literature, Justin Martyr, and the impact of anti-Judaism on the transmission of the Gospels. Professor Knust is an ordained American Baptist (USA) pastor.


Tom Michael
Asst. Professor, Dept. of Religion
Chinese religions and literatures
departmental profile

PhD, University of Chicago
Tom Michael’s dissertation focusing on early Taoism in China. His teaching and research interests include East Asian religion and philosophy, ethics and morality in China, sex and the body in world religions, and Buddhist and Taoist literature. Michael's recent publications include: The Pristine Dao: Metaphysics in Early Daoist Discourse (SUNY Press, 2005); "Confucius and Laozi—Two Visions of the Dao of Antiquity," in Metaphilosophy and Chinese Thought: Interpreting David Hall, Ewing Chinn and Henry Rosemont, Jr., editors (Global Scholarly Publications, 2005); and "The That-Beyond-Which of the Pristine Dao: Cosmology in the Liezi," in Riding The Wind: New Essays on the Daoist Classic, The Liezi, Ronnie Littlejohn and Jeffrey Dippmann, eds. (SUNY Press, in press).


Matthew W. Smith
Asst. Professor, Dept. of English
Modern drama; theatre history and theory; modernism/postmodernism
departmental profile

BA, Brown University; MA, University of Chicago; MA, PhD, Columbia University
Matthew Smith’s teaching and research interests include modern drama, theatre history and theory, modernism / postmodernism, and relations between theatre and film.  His recent publications include “American Valkyries: Richard Wagner, D.W. Griffith, and the Birth of Classical Cinema” (2008); “Orson Welles’ Shakespeare” (2008); co-editor, Modern Drama Fiftieth Anniversary Issue (2007); “Laughing at the Redeemer: Kundry and the Paradox of Parsifal” (2007); The Total Work of Art: From Bayreuth to Cyberspace (Routledge, 2007); “Bayreuth, Disneyland, and the Return to Nature” (2002); and “Angels in America: A Progressive Apocalypse” (1999).  He is currently working on a book on melodrama, and editing the Norton Critical Edition of Georg Büchner’s work.  Smith is also a playwright, and his work has been produced at The Eugene O'Neill Theater, The Ontological Theater, Henry Street Settlement, and other stages.


Michael Zank
Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Religion
Philosophy of Religion and Modern Jewish Thought
departmental profile

Erstes Theologisches Examen, Evangelische Kirche der Pfalz, Speyer am Rhein (Germany); PhD, Brandeis University
Michael Zank holds advanced degrees in the study of Protestant and Jewish religious and philosophical traditions, and teaches courses ranging from the Bible to the modern critique of religion. He has published on such varied topics as modern Jewish thought (the philosophy of Hermann Cohen, the writings of Leo Strauss, the thought of Martin Buber, and the intellectual profile of Franz Rosenzweig); ancient rabbinic theology; and the reception of the Holocaust in contemporary German culture. He is currently working on a historical and systematic study of modern Jewish philosophy of religion, and on a brief history of Jerusalem from a theological-political perspective. He is a contributing editor of the Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy and editor-in-chief of Textual Reasoning-deutsch.



Cristine Hutchison-Jones
Program Coordinator,
The Program in Scripture and the Arts
E-mail: | Phone: 617.358.1754

BA, Florida State University
Cristine entered the Religion and Society specialization in the Boston University Division of Religious and Theological Studies in 2001 as a post-BA PhD student. Her area of interest is the religious history of the United States, with particular focus on the history of Christianity and religious intolerance. She is working on a dissertation on non-Mormon representations of the Latter-day Saints in America since 1890. Cristine has been the Coordinator of the Program in Scripture and the Arts (formerly the Luce Program in Scripture and Literary Arts) since 2002.


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