James Barnett Lecture Series

James Barnett Lecture Series in Humanistic Anthropology      

Understanding Religious Experience

All lectures will be held at The Humanities Institute (UCHI), Austin Building, Room 301 at 4:00 pm. For more information please contact Richard Sosis (richard.sosis@uconn.edu).

Please contact uchi@uconn.edu or 486-9057 to reserve a seat.


Dr. Angela HarkinsAssistant Prof.Religio
Angela Harkins

Emotional Communities in the Second Temple Period: The Instrumentalization of Affect after the Exile

Angela Kim Harkins (University of Birmingham)

March 3, 2015

Angela Kim Harkins is a native of Chicago, Illinois and completed her doctoral work at the University of Notre Dame in 2003. She currently holds a Marie Cure International Incoming Fellowship in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University Birmingham (UK) where she is working on a monograph that investigates the role that memories about the Teacher of Righteousness had in the religious experiences of the Qumran community (2014-2016). During this time, she is on leave from Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT) where she is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and of the interdisciplinary program in Judaic Studies. Harkins is the author of Reading with an “I” to the Heavens: Looking at the Qumran Hodayot through the Lens of Visionary Traditions (Ekstasis 3; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012), and numerous articles and essays on prayer in the Second Temple period. She is especially interested in the role that performative emotions can have in the construction of religious experiences in antiquity. In addition to the texts from Qumran, Harkins is also working on the collections known as the Prayers of Solomon and the Odes of Solomon.


Trying Not to Try: Cooperation, Trust and the Paradox of Spontaneity

Edward Slingerland (University of British Columbia)
Edward Slingerland

Edward Slingerland (University of British Columbia)

April 21, 2015

Edward Slingerland received a B.A. from Stanford in Asian Languages (Chinese), an M.A. from UC Berkeley in East Asian Languages (classical Chinese), and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Stanford University. His research specialties and teaching interests include Warring States (5th-3rd c. B.C.E.) Chinese thought, religious studies (comparative religion, cognitive science and evolution of religion), cognitive linguistics (blending and conceptual metaphor theory), ethics (virtue ethics, moral psychology), evolutionary psychology, the relationship between the humanities and the natural sciences, and the classical Chinese language. His first trade book, Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity, was released by Crown (Random House) in March 2014. His current primary work in progress is an academic monograph with the working title Body and Mind in Early China: Beyond the Myth of Holism, an article-length version of which was recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Other recent publications include Creating Consilience: Integrating the Sciences and the Humanities (co-edited by Prof. Mark Collard of SFU), a statement on the importance of a “second wave” of science-humanities cooperation, and articles including a qualitative coding analysis of ancient Chinese texts published in Cognitive Science, a response to the situationist critique of virtue ethics published in Ethics, and the article “Metaphor and Meaning in Early China,” which was recently awarded the 2012 Annual Best Essay award from the journal Dao.

FALL 2014

Events and Appraisals in the Study of (Religious) Experience

Ann Taves
Ann Taves

Ann Taves (University of California, Santa Barbara)

October 7, 2014

Ann Taves is professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara; past president of the American Academy of Religion and president elect of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things, winner of the 2010 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Fits, Trances, and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James, winner of the 2000 Association of American Publishers Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Philosophy and Religion.  She is currently working on a book entitled Revelatory Events: Unusual Experiences and New Spiritual Paths and supervising the interdisciplinary Religion, Experience, and Mind Lab Group at UCSB.




Engagement, Energy, and Enjoyment: Religious Experience and the Enhancement of Everyday Life

Nathaniel Barrett
Nathaniel Barrett

Nathaniel Barrett (University of Navarra)

October 28, 2014

Nathaniel Barrett is a research fellow for the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. His research focuses on non-computational theories of mind, especially ecological psychology, enactive theory, and dynamical systems theory, and on the potential contributions of these branches of psychology to our understanding of the perception of religious meaning and value. He also researches and writes about the evolution of religion, axiology (theory of value), pragmatism, process philosophy, and Chinese philosophy. His articles have been published in Process Studies, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Journal for the American Academy of Religion, Philosophy East & West, American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, Religion, Brain, and Behavior, Sophia, and the Routledge Companion to Religion and Science.




Phenomenology of Intense Experiences 

Wesley Wildman
Wesley Wildman

Wesley Wildman (Boston University)

November 18, 2014

Wesley J. Wildman is Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics at Boston University. His research and publications pursue a multidisciplinary, comparative approach to important topics within religious and theological studies. The programmatic statement of a theory of rationality underlying this type of integrative intellectual work is Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning a Future for the Philosophy of Religion (State University of New York Press, 2010). Science and Religious Anthropology (Ashgate, 2009) presents his multidisciplinary interpretation of the human condition, and the companion volume Science and Ultimate Reality (Ashgate, forthcoming) articulates his account of religious naturalism in relation to competing views of ultimate reality. Religious and Spiritual Experiences (Cambridge University Press, 2011) presents a multidisciplinary interpretation of religious experience. The three co-edited volumes of Science and the World’s Religions (2013) demonstrate the ways in which all religions have something at stake in science-religion dialogue, and the two co-edited volumes of Encyclopedia of Science and Religion (2003) survey the field. He is co-founder of the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion, a research institute devoted to the scientific study of religion, and founding co-editor of the institute’s Taylor & Francis journal Religion, Brain & Behavior.