Forthcoming Events | Religious Studies

Forthcoming Events

Judaic Studies

“Dancing with the Angel of Death: Demonic Femininity in the Ancient Synagogue”

by Laura S. Lieber
Professor of Religious Studies, Duke University

Thursday, October 24, 7 pm, Location TBA

What makes a woman powerful?  And dangerous?  Can what makes her “good” also be a potential “evil”?  In this talk, we will consider a striking presentation of demonic femininity in early Judaism (ca. 5th-6thcenturies CE).  At the center of this presentation is a dramatic poem that elaborates on the biblical ritual of the suspected adulteress, the Sotah(Numbers 5).  In the course of our examination of the long-forgotten composition, we will explore how the synagogue performance expands on traditions preserved in more familiar Jewish sources, and ways in which this work resonates with magical texts, amulets, and traditions; and we will consider how the portrayal of the accused woman relates to universal human fears and the female power to compel the male gaze.

Laura Lieber is Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, where she directs the Duke Center for Jewish Studies as well as the Center for Late Ancient Studies.  She holds secondary appointments in Classics, German Language and Literature, and the Duke Divinity School.  A native of Fayetteville, Arkansas, she received her BA in English Literature and Classics from the University of Arkansas (1994), has rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (1999), and holds a PhD in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago (2003).  Her most recent books are A Vocabulary of Desire: The Song of Songs in the Early Synagogue (2014), and Jewish Aramaic Poetry from Antiquity (2018), with a volume on Classical Samaritan Poetry coming out in 2020.  She has held ACLS and National Humanities Center fellowships, and received grants from the American Philosophical Society and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.  While her research focuses on Jewish life and culture in the Roman world, particularly on theatricality and performance in the world of the synagogue, Lieber’s teaching spans from the biblical period to the present day.

Islamic Studies

“Women Outside Their Apartments: A Moroccan Feminist’s Cinematic Vision”

A lecture by Dr. Florence Martin, Goucher College

Tuesday, October 8, 6-7 pm, Faculty Center

Moroccan, Muslim, feminist pioneer filmmaker Farida Benlyazid has always been subversive. Looking at the arc of her work from her auto-fiction A Door to the Sky (1988) to her current documentary project on Moroccan feminist Fatema Mernissi, this talk will examine how Benlyazid has consistently disturbed the boundaries between autobiography and fiction, the personal and the political, Muslim spirituality and feminism, by deploying the liminal spaces traditionally occupied by women.

Florence Martin is Dean John Blackford Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Goucher College. She holds a Doctorate from Université de la Sorbonne, Paris, and has published articles and book chapters internationally on the blues, francophone literature and French and francophone cinema. Her recent work focuses on postcolonial cinema, the cinema of the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and French and Francophone women’s films. She is an editor for the scholarly journal Studies in French Cinema (UK) and for Proto, a peer-reviewed journal for undergraduates in the Middle Atlantic region (US).

Co-sponsored by the Departments of Religious Studies and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Women’s and Gender Studies; the Lloyd International Honors College; and the Muslim Student Association.

“New Muslim Cool”

A film screening followed by discussion led by Dean Omar Ali, Lloyd International Honors College

Tuesday, November 14, 4-6 pm, Location TBA

Puerto Rican-American rapper Hamza Perez pulled himself out of drug dealing and street life 12 years ago and became a Muslim. Now he’s moved to Pittsburgh’s tough North Side to start a new religious community, rebuild his shattered family and take his message of faith to other young people through hard-hitting hip-hop music. But when the FBI raids his mosque, Hamza must confront the realities of the post-9/11 world, and himself. “New Muslim Cool,” an award-winning documentary, takes viewers on Hamza’s ride through streets, slums and jail cells – following his spiritual journey to some surprising places in an America that never stops changing. (–

Omar H. Ali is Professor of Comparative African Diaspora History and Dean of Lloyd International Honors College at UNCG. A graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science, he studied ethnography at the School of Oriental and African Studies before receiving his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. He is the author of four books and the recipient of numerous awards, including an Excellence in Teaching Award and a Chancellor’s Recognition of Contributions to the UNCG Community.

Co-sponsored by the Lloyd International Honors College and the Muslim Student Association.