Religion and Culture Undergraduate Conference at Syracuse University

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Conference Update for Presenters

Hello Participants,

Congratulations again on your acceptance for presenting at the Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Culture! Below are some tips on how to prepare.

Presentations will be from 10-15 minutes long – this is approximately the equivalent of reading a 6-8 page paper though we also gladly welcome more conversational presentation styles. If reading, make sure to practice aloud and maintain an even pace for your listeners (it takes about 2 minutes to read a double spaced page).

If you plan to use presentation materials (powerpoint, Prezi, handout, et cetera) all rooms will be equipped with Audio-Visual support. We cannot guarantee that connections will work with all kinds of computers so make sure to backup an accessible copy of your presentation on email or memory stick.

We recommend sending a copy of your paper or materials ahead of time (ideally by Wednesday, March 26th) to your panel respondent listed below.

Come prepared, dress professionally, and bring plenty of paper (or your technological device of choice) for note-taking and trading contact information with other bright, dedicated students and upcoming professionals!

This link also provides some helpful tips on preparing for a conference-style presentation:

The schedule for the day is listed below with the names of the panel respondents. All panels and events during the day will be held on the 1st and 2nd floor in the Hall of Languages building (in the center of campus).


8:50-9:50 a.m.: Registration and Welcome Breakfast


10:00-11:00 a.m.: Professionalization Workshop with Dr. M. Gail Hamner


11:10-12:10 p.m.: Prof. Amy Chaney Keynote Address


12:20-1:20 p.m.: Lunch


1:30-2:30 p.m.: Panel Session I

A.) Religion, the State, and Politics

Respondent: Clara Schoonmaker,

Isabelle Lehner, “The Coptic-Muslim Divide in Contemporary Egypt: A Conflict Over Religious Boundaries, Identity, and National Belonging”

Ivan Zhivkov, “Untitled: Bulgarian Religion and State”

Maxwell Wojnowski, “A Mediating Force: Islam and Pashtun Tribe-State Relations in Afghanistan”

B.) Religion, Popular Culture, and Science Fiction

Respondent: Dan Cheifer,

Nathan Rafalowski, “Shuffling the Definitions of Religion: A Look at Magic: The Gathering”

Alexandra Weisse, “Faith Simulation: Perceptions of Religious Reality in Science Fiction Media”

C. American Identity, the American Narrative, and Religion

Respondent: Dai Newman,

Cameron Hyde, “Battling the Field of Honor and Shaping the New Nation: Republican Virtue in the Debate Over Dueling”

Isaiah Ellis, “Peripheral Envisioning: Natives, “Indians,” and American Identity Crisis in the 20th Century”

Chloe Gersten, “A Mythic Creation: The Importance of Christopher Columbus in American Culture”

2:40-3:40 p.m.: Panel Session II

D.) Religion, the Law, and Legal Struggles

Respondent: Dana Lloyd,

Savannah Finver, “If They Get One, We Want One, Too: An Analysis of the Installation of a Ten Commandments Monument”

Sarah Montello, “Religion as a Special Case: The Catch-22 Inherent in the Plan”

John Campbell, “Finding Ourselves: The Modern Religious Struggle of the Eastern Kituwah”

E.) Virtual Religion

Respondent: John W. Borchert,

Kristen Ryan, “Anomie in the Zombie Apocalypse: How the “The Walking Dead” Mirrors the American Search for Social Stability”

James Stevenson, “Torii on TV: An examination of Buddhist and Shinto teachings in America”

Rachel Gray: “Video Games, Warfare and Other Worlds”

F.) Premodern Religious Symbols and their Textual Affects and Effects

Respondent: Dan Moseson,

David Kurfirst, “The Universal Chariot: Pedagogy in Ancient Thought”

Ian Nelson, “Hellenistic Judaism(s): The Epistle of Aristeas and Maccabean Literature”

Daniel Haglund, “Love and Mysticism”

3:50-5:00 p.m.: Panel Session III

G.) Examinations of Purity’s Manifestations and Defenses in Judaism and Christianity

Respondent: Dr. Alex Snow,

James Tolley, “The Viral and Contagious Nature of Impurity: An Examination of Transference in Religion and Culture”

Kaitlyn Samuelson, “Forgoing the Flow: An Examination of Menarchy, Mikveh, and Menstrual Suppression”

Ethan Davis, “Education as Sacred in Christian Motivations to Homeschool: The Pursuit of Purity in Conservative Christian Families”

Molly Hughes, “Filthy, Dirty, Ecstasy: Sex and Sexuality within the Evangelical Chastity Movement”

H.) Religious Communities and Life-Cycle Events

Respondent: Maria Junttila Carson,

Dana Laxer, “Bloodlines, Conversion, and Renunciation: Adoption in a Jewish Context”

Robert Nelson, “The Art of Dying Well: The “Ars moriendi” Tradition in the Writings of Martin Luther”

Hui Elis Lui, “Getting Intimate with Christian Dating: Engaging Evangelical Youth with Non-Fiction”

Anastasia Young, “Longing for Liberation: An Interfaith Approach to The Process of Reconciliation”


I.)  Gender, Performance, and Religion

Respondent: Courtney O’Dell-Chaib,

*Jessica Young, “Mormon Women and the Shaping of Mormon Identity in the Late 19th Century”

*Shuyuan Chen, “The Sexual Transformation of Kuan-yin in China”

Jean Valentin, “Performance Performativity and Nicki Minaj”

Charles Hatfield, “Exemplary Women: Hagiographies of Male-Gendered Nuns in Imperial China”


J.) Religion, Aesthetics, and Education

Respondent: John W. Borchert,

Tim Beresford-Hill, “The Religious Pedagogy of Man”

Michelle Kiyeon-Kim, “When Christianity meets 19th Century Korean Folk Art: Indigenization of Religion Represented in Kisam Kim Joon-Geun’s Illustrations for The Pilgrim’s Progress”

Danielle Yett “Reimaginging Art: A Neo-Calvinist Interpretation of Art’s Place in Society”

Lynde Folsom, “Dionysian Aesthetics”

5:10-6:00 p.m.: Closing Reception with Snacks


Continue to contact us with any questions. We look forward to seeing you on the 29th!

Best regards,

Sara Ann Swenson

Syracuse University

Department of Religion


Call for Papers

Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Culture

Syracuse University | March 29, 2014 | Syracuse, NY

The Religion Graduate Organization at Syracuse University is hosting the first annual “Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Culture”!  Undergraduates inspired by the theme of Religion and Culture are invited to apply. Travel stipends available. We welcome undergraduate student term papers, selections from honors and senior theses, creative projects, and works in progress. Papers may be from any field of study and are not required to directly address the theme.

To apply, email an abstract of no more than 350 words to:

by 12p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, February 21th.

Make sure to include your name,

email address, school affiliation,

and the name of your faculty sponsor.

Have a faculty sponsor send us a brief, informal email with your name and your relationship to the sponsor (for instance, you are his or her current student, advisee, gifted student acquaintance, et cetera). Faculty sponsor emails are also due by 12p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, February 21th.

 and may be emailed to:

The “Undergraduate Conference on Religion and Culture” will be held at Syracuse University on Saturday, March 29th, 2014. At the event, students will have the opportunity to present their research and papers in panels with on-site feedback by graduate student and faculty responders. Throughout the day, guest presenters and special sessions will engage undergraduates with tips on applying to grad school; creative routes for nonacademic professionalizing after college; and opportunities to meet and connect with other critical-thinking students in the Central New York region.

The goals of the conference are to recognize and encourage outstanding undergraduate work, and to provide undergraduate students with an opportunity to contribute to a broader academic conversation.

Possible topics for papers could include:

– Politics, Law, and Religion

– Religion and Violence, Religion and Peace

– Constructions of the Other

– Gender, Sex, and Sexuality

– Self and the Body

– Popular Culture and Society

– Race and Ethnicity

– Textuality and Ways of Reading

– Migration, Diaspora, and Relocation

– Work, Class, and Consumerism

Have fun and be creative! We hope to see you here on March 29th. For information about the application, travel stipend, dates, or questions generally, email: or visit our facebook page.

This call for papers is available at: