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Religious studies lecture will examine early relationships among church, state and universities

Thursday, April 27, 2017

LAWRENCE – An expert on the history of religious studies will examine the origin of secularity with its ideas of scientific rationality, free individual inquiry, democracy and rule of law.

Tomoko Masuzawa, professor of history and comparative literature at the University of Michigan, will give a talk, "Church, State and the University: Some Nineteenth Century Quarrels about Religion and the Academy" at 7 p.m. Monday, May 1, in the Jayhawk Room of the Kansas Memorial Union. The event is part of the annual Friends of the Department of Religious Studies Speaker Series.

"'Religion' is a term that we encounter every day in personal conversations, the news and the law, you name it. Regardless of what we may hold about the essence or inspiration of religion, the term itself comes to us with a deep and specific cultural history," said Dan Stevenson, professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies. "How we think and talk about such things as religion and spirituality, religion and the political realm, religion and science, religion and the secular carries and bears the imprint of that history. Tomoko Masuzawa is an acclaimed scholar in the academic study of religion who has dedicated her career to exploring the roots of that history and the manifold ways in which it shapes views on religion and religions that inform our lives today."

Masuzawa received her doctorate in religious studies from the University of California Santa Barbara in 1985. Her fields of study include 19th century European intellectual history, discourses on religion, history of religion and psychoanalysis.

She has authored and co-authored a number of books and articles on the development of the idea of "world religions," as well as documenting the development of the study of religion over time. Her current work focuses on the foundational relationships of the academy, church and state to create modern notions of the secular academy. 

The lecture is free and open to the public.