Macaulay Honors College Hosts Conference on the Politics of Religion, April 16-17

On April 16-17, 2010, Macaulay Honors College Visiting Professor Lee Quinby and Associate University Dean of Academic Affairs Sylvia Tomasch will host distinguished scholars as they address the politics of religion, in both historical and contemporary circumstances, and from cross-cultural perspectives. The conference is both interdisciplinary and international.

The conference begins at 1pm on Friday, April 16 with welcoming remarks from Macaulay’s University Dean, Ann Kirschner, and opening comments from Dr. Quinby. Afternoon panels will focus on issues of the biopolitics of religion and clashes between religion and secularism.

The Plenary Address, “Remarkable Affinities: Biblical  Scholarship, Gender, and the Emergence of Racial Theology,” will be delivered by Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College, at 5pm. Heschel’s scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of anti-Semitism. Her numerous publications include Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (University of Chicago Press), which won a National Jewish Book Award and Germany’s Geiger Prize, and her most recent book, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press). She is the author of over seventy articles and has edited several books, including Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays of Abraham Joshua Heschel; Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (with Robert P. Ericksen); and Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism (with David Biale and Michael Galchinsky).

The second day of the conference begins at 9:30am with panel discussions on topics such as religious identity and the tensions between religious practice and democratic governance.

A panel of students from Macaulay Honors College is at 11:30 to 12:45, chaired by Angela Ho of Macaulay Honors at Lehman College, and includes presentations by “Ethical and Kosher: On Judaism, Activism and Justice,” by Dasi Fruchter, of Macaulay Honors College at Queens College; “Healing Secular Illness: Religious Legitimacy in Psychiatry,” by Leo Bierman, Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College; and “Noir-alypse: Between Dogma and Relativism,” by Daniel Cowen, Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College.

Saturday’s Plenary Address at 5pm is “Everyday Conversion,” by Steven Kruger, English and Medieval Studies, Queens College,  CUNY and CUNY Graduate Center. Professor Steven Kruger’s books include Dreaming in the Middle Ages (Cambridge UP, 1992), AIDS Narratives: Gender and Sexuality, Fiction and Science (Garland, 1996), Approaching the Millennium: Essays on Angels in America (co-edited with Deborah R. Geis,) Queering the Middle Ages (co-edited with Glenn Burger), and The Spectral Jew: Conversion and Embodiment in Medieval Europe. His current work continues to explore questions about medieval interreligious relations, particularly between Christianity and Judaism, and especially as reflected in the experience of conversion. His essay, “Convert Orthodoxies: The Case of Guillaume de Bourges,” has just appeared in the anthology Jewish/Christian/Queer: Crossroads and Identities, and his essay, “Medieval Jewish/Christian Debate and the Question of Gender: Gilbert Crispin’s Disputatio Iudei et Christiani,” is forthcoming in Intersections of Gender, Religion, and Ethnicity in the Middle Ages.

Dr. Tomasch will provide closing remarks for the Conference. Each day concludes with a reception for all participants in the Macaulay Honors College home on West 67th Street.

The public is welcome to all lectures, including the receptions, but registration is required; registration information can be found at

Lee Quinby, conference co-organizer, is Visiting  Professor at Macaulay Honors College 2007 – 10.  An interdisciplinary scholar who specializes in the study of apocalyptic and millennial belief in American  society, Professor Quinby’s areas of scholarly interest include issues of  freedom and citizenship in the era of techno-globalization. She is the author and editor of numerous publications, including Genealogy and  Literature, Feminism and Foucault, and Gender and Apocalyptic Desire. At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, she held the Harter Chair for Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities 2001 – 06, and she was the inaugural Zicklin Chair in the Honors Academy at Brooklyn College (CUNY)  2005 – 07.

At Macualay Honors College since 2005 (then “CUNY Honors College”), conference co-organizer Sylvia Tomasch is Associate University Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of English at Hunter College (CUNY), where she chaired the department 2002-05. Professor Tomasch has published widely on Middle English and Chaucer, medieval anti-Semitism, and the history of the discipline of Medieval Studies, as well as co-editing a volume of essays on medieval literature, history, and spatiality, Text and Territory: Geographical Imagination in the European Middle Ages. Her present work focuses on medieval practices of surveillance. A past president of the Medieval Club of New York (2001 – 03), she has served on the Executive Committee of the Chaucer Division (2005 – 06) and the Comparative Medieval Division (2007 – 11) of the Modern Language Association.

Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York offers an exceptional academic and co-curricular environment for engaged and motivated students, who come from all parts of New York and around the world. Macaulay students enroll in one of seven CUNY colleges (Baruch, Brooklyn, City, Hunter, Lehman, Queens and Staten Island). Through the unique Macaulay advising program each student develops a coordinated, individualized academic program that includes research, global learning, graduate and professional mentoring, community engagement, and close faculty-student collaboration. Selected for their top high school records and leadership potential, every Macaulay student receives a full-tuition scholarship, a laptop and technology support, a $7,500 study grant to pursue global learning and service opportunities, and a Cultural Passport that  provides access to more than 200 museums, libraries, and other treasures around New York City. For more information about Macaulay Honors College, see