James W. Richard Lectures

Emilie Townes

Vanderbilt University


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

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.



Margaret Mitchell

University of Chicago

September 22-24, 2020

Lectures I & II: Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library Auditorium 
Lecture III: Rotunda Dome Room
4:00 - 5:30pm