African American Religious Studies Forum

This Forum presents and promotes innovative scholarship related to the study of African American religion.  In this way, CERCL presents and helps to advance the success of scholarship often considered marginal to the Academy.   As the number of academic posts decreases, it is important to advance the use of intellectual skills beyond the traditional employment paths for those in the Humanities in general and the study of Religion in particular. Mindful of this, the Forum also provides activities and programming meant to help students refine their capacities for “non-traditional” posts. 

African American Graduate students and Faculty are particularly challenged with respect to the exercise of leadership (as defined by the Center) within the Academy.  As a way of addressing this, and in light of one of the growing areas of interest in the social sciences and humanities, the African American Religious Studies Forum provides opportunities for graduate students and interested faculty working in African American religion to: (1) dialogue with leading off-campus scholars in the study of African American religion who provide feedback on graduate student projects as well as advice regarding professional life within the Academy; (2) present their research and receive feedback, in this way they gain greater ability to provide and constructively receive critique; (3) international opportunities to present their research and network.

Visiting Lecturers
Recent Lectures
Edward Blum
Allan Boesak
Regina Bradley
Bernadette Brooten
Kelly Brown Douglas
Katie Geneva Cannon
James Cone
M. Shawn Copeland
Ashon Crawley
Gary Dorrien
Juan Floyd-Thomas
Stacey Floyd-Thomas
Lewis Gordon
William Hart
Michael Haspel
Simeon Ilesanmi
Paul Christopher Johnson
Sylvester Johnson
Vincent William Lloyd
Juergen Manemann
David Morgan
Peter Paris
Mayra Rivera
Corey Walker
Calvin Warren
Joseph Richard Winters
Thelathia "Nikki" Young
What's the Thesis?


An ongoing conversation series with scholars in black religion and related fields. During these conversations we will talk with guests about their recent publications, their current research and other critical issues in our contemporary world.

2019 - 2020 Affiliate


Colin Bossen is the interim senior minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston. He has a PhD in American Studies from Harvard University, an AM in History, also from Harvard, an MDiv. from Meadville Lombard Theological School, and a BA in English (composition) and physics from Denison University. He studies race, religion, and politics in the United States. He is presently working on two books. The first will be drawn from his spring 2019 Minns lectures: American Populism and Unitarian Universalism. The second will examine the religious dimensions of American populism. He keeps a blog at

AARSF Affiliates


This program is for scholars whose research presents and promotes innovative scholarship related to the study of race and religion. 

Sharde' Chapman

Department of Religion

I'll Make Me a World:
Non-Traditional Religious Spaces in Black America

Mark DeYoung

Department of Religion

The End is a Beginning: Apocalyptic Aesthetics in Black Religion and Culture

Rachel Pasierowska

Department of History


Beasts, Birds, and Bondsman: Animal and Slave Interactions in Atlantic World Slavery

AARSF Fellows


A program for graduate students whose research presents and promotes innovative scholarship related to the study of African American religion. The AARSF Fellows Program provides opportunities for graduate students working in African American religion to: (1) present their research; (2) add to the CERCL Archive in the Woodson Research Center at Rice University’s Fondren Library.


Rice University graduate students who are in the writing phase of the program (e.g. working on the dissertation proposal or dissertation) are eligible to apply. Fellows receive a $2,500 stipend.

Previous Fellows & Research