News Archive: 2011

Fall Semester

Stephen Finley underwent his third-year review this semester. On February 13, 2012, with the concurrence of AAAS, the department faculty panel recommended that he be reappointed. On April 18, Dean Foster reappointed Stephen and granted him a fourth-year teaching release.

Gail Sutherland organized a lecture by Sister Helen Prejean entitled "Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues" on February 2, 2012 in Design Building 103. Sister Prejean, author of the book Dead Man Walking, has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the death penalty and helping to shape the Catholic Church's newly vigorous opposition to state executions.

Michael Pasquier received a $30,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is collaborating with Kristi Dykema (LSU Landscape Architecture) and Jeff Carney (LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio) on the project “On Land / With Water: A Mobile Museum,” an exhibition based in the Mississippi Delta. The exhibition will include a design simulation station, audio listening/recording stations, and a geo-spatial visualization laboratory. Their related work was previously awarded the Great Places Research Award from the Environmental Design Research Association in 2011.

Paula Arai’s second book, Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women's Rituals, has just been published by University of Hawaii Press. Based on fourteen years of ethnographic research, Arai's theory of Japanese Buddhist women’s ten-part healing paradigm illuminates the healing power that can be generated through such activities as household chores, contemplative arts (tea, flower arranging, poetry, calligraphy), and domestic rituals of grieving. It explores the ways women creatively engage in these ritualized activities and weave them into their daily lives in a manner that helps themselves, and those they love, heal. Arai will travel to Japan over the winter break in order to hand-deliver the book to each of the women who participated in this extensive study of an area of Buddhism that heretofore has not been examined, in large part due to the intense nature of the relationship that must be cultivated over years. See more at

Stephen Finley attended the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in San Francisco, November 19-23. As a member of the Steering Committee of the panel on Theology and Religious Reflection, he attended the business meeting to help plan panel topics for next year’s meeting in Chicago. He also held a planning meeting for contributors to his projected co-edited anthology, “There Is a Mystery”: Esotericism, Gnosticism, and Mysticism in African American Religious Experience.

Michael Pasquier attended the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in San Francisco, November 19-23. At a Religion and Media Workshop, he gave an invited presentation on “Finding Religion in America and Getting Lost in the Digital Humanities.” In the Roman Catholic Studies Group, he was a panelist for a roundtable discussion of the theme “Finding a Place for Spatial Theory in American Catholic Studies.”

Dr. Jeffrey Kripal, holder of the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought, and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University, visited with LSU Religious Studies faculty on Tuesday, November 8 and Wednesday, November 9. On Wednesday morning, he made a presentation in REL 2000 (Introduction to the Study of Religion), taught by Madhuri Yadlapati. On Wednesday afternoon, he gave a public lecture sponsored by the William James Fund, entitled, "What We Did Not Read: William James and the Psychical Research Tradition." More than 90 University students and faculty attended. The event was covered by the Reveille. Thanks go to Stephen Finley and Stuart Irvine for their work in arranging this visit.

Michael Pasquier, co-editor of the Journal of Southern Religion (, recently released the 2011 edition of the JSR.