Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Dr. Matthew R. Hotham [Hoe-Thumb] teaches Islam (RELS 275), The Qur‘an (RELS 208), introductory Religious Studies and Core Curriculum classes, as well as advanced seminars on Animals and Religion, Religion, Colonialism and Modernity, and Islamic Mysticism. His research and teaching focus on embodied, affective, and material approaches to the study of religion. His classes incorporate role-playing, case studies, music, scents, religious objects, and visits to the David Owsley Art Museum to encourage students to think about religions as lived and living traditions that invite a diversity of embodied human engagements and responses.
His research has two theoretically related but historically distant prongs. First, his in progress book manuscript, Introductory Matters: Maligned Manuscripts, Ascended Bodies, and Contested Definitions of Sufism, highlights the complexity and diversity of the Islamic tradition through the study of an important but under-researched medieval Persian text, Nizami Ganjavi’s Treasury of Mysteries. The second prong of his research examines Euro-American constructions of the Muslim as an “other” to be feared, focusing on how a diverse array of contemporary literatures, from television shows to internet memes, use animals and animal imagery to construct the Muslim body as different and dangerous. In both projects, his work focuses on the body and bodily comportment, examining how what a person eats, drinks, smells, sees, and touches is used to mark the boundaries of religious identity.
Hotham’s research and teaching have taken him around the world, including summers in India, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Syria, and Turkey. He is the advisor to Religion Conversation Hour, a student-run organization that meets weekly to explore themes central to the study of religion and topics from a variety of religious traditions. He is also chair of the Midwest Region American Academy of Religion section on Literature and Sacred Texts in the Study of Religion.
PHD IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016
MTS IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Harvard Divinity School, 2009
MFA IN CREATIVE WRITING
Syracuse University, 2007
BA IN ENGLISH AND RELIGION
Colgate University, 2003
Selected Research and Publications
“Affect, Animality, and Islamophobia: Human-Animal Relations in the Production of Muslim Difference in America,” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 46, no. 3–4 (August 11, 2017): 25–38.
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