Frieze in the U.S. Supreme Court building depicting religious leaders and lawgivers

Wickenden Lectures

In 1927, Arthur C. Wickenden became the founding chair of what was then called the Department of Religion at Miami University--one of the two oldest departments devoted to the study of religion at an American state-supported university.  (The other was at the University of Iowa.) The Arthur C. Wickenden Lectures were founded in 1970 by Miami graduate Rev. Walter Simmons and members of the Wickenden family, in commemoration of Professor Wickenden’s life and in celebration of the human spirit.

This annual lecture series is free and open to the public.

2016-2017 speaker

John H. EvansJohn H. Evans
University of California, San Diego
"The Eclipse of the Sacred Human: Are Human Rights under Threat from Medical Science?"

March 13, 2017 (Monday)
4:00 p.m.
Dolibois Room, Shriver Center


The work of John H. Evans examines issues traditionally in the realm of the humanities through a sociological lens. His books include What Is a Human? What the Answers Mean for Human Rights (Oxford, 2016) and Contested Reproduction: Genetic Technologies, Religion, and Public Debate (Chicago, 2010). Evans was an important early contributor to the field of bioethics, asking how public debate shapes life-and-death issues in Playing God? Human Genetic Engineering and the Rationalization of Public Bioethical Debate (Chicago, 2002) and The History and Future of Bioethics: A Sociological View (Oxford, 2012). He has been a postdoctoral fellow at Yale and a visiting member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Dr. Evans's Wickenden Lecture is presented as part of the 2016-2017 John W. Altman Program in the Humanities.

Past speakers

2015-2016

John Corrigan
Florida State University

  • "Why Christians in America Today Feel Empty and Why They Like It That Way"

2014-2015

Dale Jamieson
New York University

  • "Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed and What It Means for Our Future"

2013-2014

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan
Indiana University-Bloomington

  • "The World That Smith Made: Advocating for Religion in the U.S. Today"
  • "EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor: Constitutionalizing 'The Church'"

2012-2013

Barbara Herrnstein Smith
Duke University

  • "Science and Religion, De-simplified"
  • "Angles on Relativism: Historical, Anthropological, Political, and Affective"

2011-2012

David Carrasco
Harvard Divinity School

  • "Latinos Remaking America: Baseball, Immigration, and Imagination"
  • "Sacred Violence and the Conquest of Mexico: Aztec Sacrifice and Spanish Massacres--All in the Names of Gods"

2009-2010

Amanda Porterfield
Florida State University

  • "Doubt: The Engine of American Political and Religious Formation, 1798-1812"

2008-2009

Peter Gottschalk
Wesleyan University

  • "The Science of Religion: The Quest to Know India through Scientism"
  • "Islamophobia: What Cartoons Say about How We View Islam"

2007-2008

Michael Sells
University of Chicago

  • "Translating the Qur’an"
  • "Pilgrimage and War"

2006-2007

Randall Balmer
Columbia University

  • "Wading into Troubled Waters: The Betrayal of the Religious Right"

2005-2006

Paul B. Courtright
Emory University

  • "Where is the Religion in the Classroom? Scholars and Practitioners in a Multicultural Context"

2004-2005

William LaFleur
University of Pennsylvania

  • "Informed Dissent: Why Japanese and Germans Want Brakes Put on the Biotech Juggernaut"
  • "Therapy vs. Purity: Medicine, Religion and Japan’s Dilemma"

2003-2004

Ariel Glucklick
Georgetown University

  • "The Science of Religious Consciousness: The Case of Pain"
  • "The Case of Illumination: Seeing the Sacred Light"

2002-2003

John Dominic Crossan
DePaul University

2001-2002

Alan Wolfe
Boston College

  • "Religious Traditions in a Non-Traditional World"
  • "The Disappearance of Doctrine from American Religion"

2000-2001

Lawrence E. Sullivan
Harvard Divinity School

  • "Stewards of the Sacred: Museums Communities and Religions in Democratic Society"
  • "Doing Globalization Justice: Religion in the Global Economy"

1999-2000

John Collins
University of Chicago

  • "Apocalypse and Politics in the Ancient World"

Paul Boyer
University of Wisconsin

  • "Apocalypse and Politics in the Modern World"

1998-1999

Daniel Walker Howe
Rhodes Professor of American History, University of Oxford

  • "Church, State, and Education in Antebellum America"

1997-1998

Wendy Doniger
University of Chicago Divinity School

  • "The Many Voices of Political Myths"
  • "The Man Who Committed Adultery with His Own Wife: Sexual Masquerades in World Theology"

1996-1997

Robert B. Alter
University of California at Berkeley

  • "The Living Language of Genesis"
  • "The Double Canonicity of the Hebrew Bible"

1995-1996

Jeremy Adams
Southern Methodist University

  • "Is Religion in the West Exceptional? Two Case Studies"

1994-1995

Stephen J. Stein
Indiana University

  • "Shaker Religion and Life in 19th-Century America"

1993-1994

Abraham Peck
Hebrew Union College

Charles Winquist
Syracuse University

  • "The Holocaust: The Reality and Banality of Evil"

1992-1993

James M. Robinson
Claremont Graduate School

  • "The Jesus of Q as a Liberation Theologian"
  • "The Archaic Primitive Christianity of Q"

1991-1992

Frank Moore Cross
Harvard University

  • "The Redemption of Nature"
  • "Kinship and Covenant in Ancient Israel"

1989-1990

Charles Long
Syracuse University

Robert Segal
Louisiana State University

  • Forum: "What is the Meaning of Religion?"

1988-1989

Diana L. Eck
Harvard University

  • "World Religions at the Crossroads: Fundamentalism or Pluralism"
  • "Living Myth: The Landscape of Hindu Pilgrimage"

1987-1988

Mahmoud Ayoub
University of Toronto

  • "Martyrdom and Suffering in  Shiite Ethos"
  • "The Role of the Qur’an in Muslim Society"

1986-1987

Wayne A. Meeks
Yale University

  • "The Origin of Christianity: A New Look at an Old Puzzle"
  • "Jesus and the Other Messiahs"
  • "Christianity and the Other Cults"

1985-1986

Frank E. Reynolds
University of Chicago

  • "The Humanities and the Study of Religion: The Challenge of Pluralism"
  • "Reconstructing Liberal Education: Is It Worth the Effort?"
  • "Reconstructing Religious Studies: Problems and Possibilities"

1984-1985

Raymond E. Brown
Union Theological Seminary (New York)

  • "The Theology of the Gospel of  John: The Most Adventuresome in the New Testament"
  • "Differences Among Early Christian Preachers of the Gospel"
  • "The Beginnings of the Church of Rome"

1983-1984

John F. Wilson
Princeton University

  • "New Religions in American Culture"
  • "The Religious Dynamics of  American Society"
  • "Religion and Innovation in American Society"

1982-1983

Marvin Pope
Yale University

  • "Solomon’s Sublime Song and the Great Goddess"
  • "Eros/Thanatos: The Dead as Bride and Groom"

1981-1982

Annemarie Schimmel
Harvard University and the University of Bonn

  • "The Contribution of Sufism to Islamic Culture"
  • "The Suffering of Al-Hallaj, Martyr of Mystic Love"

1980-1981

Thorkild Jacobsen
Harvard University

  • "The Wedding and Death of Tammuz"
  • "Lament for Lost Cities"

1979-1980

James F. Childress
University of Virginia

  • "Who Should Decide? Medical Paternalism and Patient Autonomy"
  • "Ethical Issues in Biomedical Technology"

1978-1979

Shemaryahu Talmon
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • "The State of Higher Education in Israel Today"
  • "Martin Buber’s Utopianism in Relation to Kibbutzim"

1977-1978

Martin E. Marty
University of Chicago

  • "Impulses in the American Religious Experience"
  • "The Hunger for Wholeness"
  • "The Apostle for Freedom"

1974-1975

Helmet Koester
Harvard University

  • "Views of Jesus in Early Christianity"
  • "Early Christian Sites in Macedonia and Greece"

1973-1974

Huston Smith
Syracuse University

  • "The Human Import of Science"
  • "America as a Mission Field"

1972-1973

Manfred H. Vogel
Northwestern University

  • "Who is a Jew?"
  • "A Theology of the State of Israel"

1971-1972

Theme: "The Contemporaneity of the Past in American Religious Thought"

Sydney E. Ahlstrom
Yale University

  • "Romanticism as a Religious Revolution: From Rousseau to Martin Luther King"

William A. Clebsch
Stanford University

  • "Authority and Assurance: From Puritanism to the New Protest"

1970-1971

Joseph Fletcher
University of Virginia

  • "The New Morality: An Ethical Breakthrough"
  • "Biocrats: Technocrats in Biology and Medicine Have Taken Over"