James W. Richard Lectures

Emilie Townes

Vanderbilt University

March 31 - April 2, 2020  |  4:00 - 5:30 PM



“Walking Across the Rim Bones—The Chore of our Scholarship”

Tuesday, March 31st: “Walking Across the Rim Bones of Nothingness: Scholarship and Activism”

Wednesday, April 1st: “The Dancing Mind: Queer Black Bodies and Activism in the Academy and Religious Spaces”

Thursday, April 2nd: “Colored Orneriness: Theological Imagination and Activism”

The anthropologist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston crafted the evocative image of walking across the rim bones of nothing in her powerful novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.  These lectures interact with this image to query where it might take us in the work we do as scholars of religion and activism in the academy and society.  The first lecture explores the terrain of the lectures.  The second lecture “queers” the notion of activism using blackness as one lens to do so.  The final lecture explores what is needed to sustain scholarship and activism as necessary tools to engage the issues of our day and fault lines of our disciplines.

All lectures are free and open to the public and will be followed immediately by a catered reception. No registration required.


Margaret Mitchell

University of Chicago

September 22-24, 2020