2015 conference speakers
Teresa Berger (Yale Divinity School)
Teresa Berger holds doctorates in both liturgical studies and constructive theology. Her scholarly interests lie at the intersection of these disciplines with gender theory, specifically gender history. Her book, Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History, was published in the Ashgate series Liturgy, Worship and Society in 2011. Previous publications include Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context (2001); Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in the Hands of Women (2005); and a video documentary, Worship in Women’s Hands (2007). Professor Berger has also written on the hymns of Charles Wesley and on the liturgical thought of the nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic revival. She served as editor of the volume of essays from the 2011 Yale Liturgy Conference, titled Liturgy in Migration: From the Upper Room to Cyberspace (2012). An active Roman Catholic, Professor Berger has produced (with MysticWaters Media) a CD-ROM, Ocean Psalms: Meditations, Stories, Prayers, Songs and Blessings from the Sea (2008), and she contributes regularly to the liturgy blog Pray Tell. Originally from Germany, Professor Berger has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Mainz, Münster, Berlin, and Uppsala.
Timothy Rommen (Department of Music, University of Pennsylvania)
Timothy Rommen received his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago in 2002. He specializes in the music of the Caribbean with research interests that include folk and popular sacred music, popular music, critical theory, ethics, diaspora, tourism, and the intellectual history of ethnomusicology. The majority of his research is focused on musics circulating in and around the Anglophone Caribbean. His first book, entitled "Mek Some Noise": Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in Trinidad (University of California Press, 2007), was awarded the Alan P. Merriam Prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2008. He is a contributing author to and editor of Excursions in World Music, and a contributor to the Cambridge History of World Music (forthcoming). His articles and reviews appear in Ethnomusicology, Popular Music, the Black Music Research Journal, the Latin American Music Review, The World of Music, The New West Indian Guide, the Journal of Religion, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, The Yearbook for Traditional Music, the Journal of Anthropological Research, the International Dictionary of Black Composers, and the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.
Carol Harrison (Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford)
Carol's research has, for a long time, focused on Augustine of Hippo and she has published three studies of his thought: the first, Beauty and Revelation in the thought of Saint Augustine (Oxford 1992) was on his theological aesthetics; the second, Augustine: Christian Truth and Fractured Humanity (Oxford 2000) was an attempt to set his thought in context; the third Rethinking Augustine's Early Theology: an argument for continuity (Oxford 2006) was an argument for the importance of his early works and for a fundamental continuity in his thought, against the general scholarly trend (following Peter Brown) to begin to read him with the Confessions and to identify a dramatic revolution following his reading of Paul in the 390's. Her most recent focuses on listening, and in particular, on the Fathers' attitude to music, as a way of discussing the importance of, and yet widespread ambiguity towards, created, temporal, mutable reality and to artistic creation and expression, in Christian theology.
Lester Ruth (Duke Divinity School)
Lester Ruth is a historian of Christian worship with particular interests in the early church and the last 250 years, especially the history of contemporary worship. He is passionate about enriching the worship life of current congregations, regardless of style. He believes that careful reflection on the worship of other Christians—whether past or present, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox—can serve to enrich the church today. Lately he has been bringing that approach to inspire contemporary songwriters. He is a member of the Charles Wesley Society, for which he is president. In addition to being a professor at Duke Divinity School, Lester teaches in the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Florida. He is also Rev. Ruth, having served as a pastor for three different appointments in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Vicki Brennan (Department of Religion, University of Vermont)
Professor Brennan is a specialist on religions in Africa. She received her B.A. in Music from Syracuse University, her M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the relationships between music, religion, and politics in contemporary Nigeria. She is currently working on a book project that details how Yoruba Christians use music to produce forms of community and identity that work to articulate and mediate religious values in relation to political-economic changes in Nigeria since 1999. She also has begun research on the relationships between commercially recorded gospel music, new media technologies, and religious publics in Nigeria.
Joseph Palackal (Christian Musicological Society of India)
Joseph J. Palackal, Ph. D. (Music) has already carved a niche for himself in the vast history of Indian music. Through his stage performances, commercial and research recordings, lectures, workshops, and writings Dr. Palackal has linked the musical geography of Christianity to India, and has aroused the curiosity of both scholars and laypeople alike. By doing so, he has initiated a new discourse on India as also a Christian country. Although the primary focus of research is on Christian music, Palackal's interests vary widely from Jewish and tribal music of Kerala to art and religion, as well as archiving oral histories and speech patterns. Starting as a singer and recording artist, Dr. Palackal continues his musical journey on the road less travelled by exploring ever new ways to connect the dots between what he considers “the complementary concepts of India and Christianity”.
Fiona Magowan (School of History and Anthropology, Queen's University, Belfast)
Fiona's research interests span issues of movement, music and the senses in anthropology and ethnomusicology. She has conducted fieldwork on religion, ritual and Christianity amongst Yolngu in north east Arnhem Land since 1990 with regular return trips over eighteen years. Research interests have included mission histories, cultural tourism, more recently new movements in art and aesthetics. Her book, Melodies of Mourning, shortlisted for the 2008 Stanner Award, examines Yolngu sensory awareness of the Northern Territory environment through music and dance and women's emotions in ritual performance. She has also carried out consultancies on town infrastructure and customary marine tenure in far north Queensland and north east Arnhem Land, respectively. Other research areas include work on senses of musical healing and culture in Northern Ireland and an ESRC funded project on senses of risk among drivers, pedestrians and other road users. She has just completed one RCUK funded project as Senior Researcher in the HERA consortium Creativity in a World of Movement on Moving aesthetics: translocal and transnational spiritualities in Australian Aboriginal art (HERA 2010-2012 with Dr. Maruska Svasek, PI) and is currently working on The Domestic Moral Economy: An Ethnographic Study of Values in the Asia-Pacific (ESRC 2011-2015 with Professor Karen Sykes, Manchester University and Professor Chris Gregory ANU).