Religious Studies

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Department of Religious Studies Annual Lectureships

The Department of Religious Studies has a long history of offering public lectures, colloquia and specialized workshops. Our guest speakers are leading scholars in the field of religious studies, and bring a variety of perspectives to the study of religion across the globe. Please see our events page for upcoming public events. If you would like to be added to our mailing list for our events, please email askrs@mcmaster.ca.

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Visiting Harry Lyman Hooker Professorship

Each academic year a leading scholar is invited to give a series of lectures and spend a few days in the department.


Past Visiting Hooker Professors have included:

  • Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt University (2018–2019).
  • Dr. Paul Harrison, Stanford University (2017–2018).
  • Dr. Sherman Jackson, University of Southern California (2016–2017).
  • Dr. Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa (2015–2016).
  • Dr. Carol Newsom, Emory University (2014–2015).
  • Dr. Raoul Birnbaum, University of California Santa Cruz (2013–2014).
  • Dr. Michael Zank, Boston University (2012–2013).
  • Dr. John Barclay, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University (2011–2012).
  • Dr. Jacqueline Stone, Princeton University (2010–2011).
  • Dr. Robin Jensen, Vanderbilt University (2009–2010).
  • Dr. Birger Gerhardsson, Lund University (2008–2009).
  • Dr. Lee Levine, Hebrew University (2007–2008).
  • Dr. Gregory Schopen, University of California, Los Angeles (2006–2007).
  • Dr. Saba Mahmood, University of California at Berkeley (2005–2006).
  • Dr. Gary Anderson, Notre Dame University (2004–2005).
  • Dr. Donald F. McCallum, University of California, Los Angeles (2003–2004).
  • Dr. Tony Walter, University of Reading, U.K. (2002–2003).
  • Dr. Dale Allison, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (2001–2002).
  • Dr. Franciscus Verellen, Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient, Hong Kong (2000–2001).
  • Dr. Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University (1999–2000).
  • Dr. John J. Collins, University of Chicago (1998–1999).
  • Dr. David Schulman, Hebrew University (1997–1998).
  • Dr. Oliver O’Donovan, Oxford University (1996–1997).
  • Dr. John Rosenfield, Harvard University (1995–1996).
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Lillian and Marvin Goldblatt Lecture in Jewish Studies

An annual lecture series on topics related to Judaism. In 2002, McMaster President, Peter George, announced a donation by Marvin Goldblatt, a local philanthropist, to support annual Jewish lectures in perpetuity. In recognition of this wonderful gift, the lecture series is now named The Lillian and Marvin Goldblatt Jewish Studies Lectures. We want to extend our profound appreciation to Marvin Goldblatt and his family for this unprecedented gift.


This speaker series was established in 2002. Past lectures have been:

  • Singer-songwriter Psoy Korolenko (Moscow – New York) and historian Anna Shternshis (University of Toronto): “Singing and Laughing Against Fascism: Lost and Found Soviet Yiddish Songs of World War II” (2019).
  • Dr. Faydra Shapiro, the Executive Director of the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations in Galilee and Associate Fellow at The Philos Project “Holy Ambivalence: Jewish-Evangelical Relations and Why They Matter” (2017).
  • Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (New York University): “Creating POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews” (2016).
  • Shaul Kelner (Vanderbilt University): “Shaping Jewish Identity Through Mass Tourism: How Do (or Don’t) ‘Birthright Israel’ Trips Actually Work?” (2014).
  • Rebecca Stein (Duke University) “Digital Politics: How Social Media is Controlling the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (2013).
  • Samuel Heilman (Queen’s College, City University of New York) “Lubavitch, Messianism and the Denial of Death” (2012).
  • Lawrence H. Schiffman (New York University): “Scrolling Through Scripture: The Bible and its Interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrolls” (2009).
  • Lee Levine (Hebrew University): “Why is the Greek Sun-god (Helios) Depicted in Ancient Synagogue Mosaics?” (2008).
  • Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth College): “Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Reflections on the Life and Thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel” (2007).
  • Elliot R. Wolfson (New York University): “Picturing God: Representation of the Divine Body in Medieval Kabbalah” (2006).
  • David Biale (University of California, Davis): “From Blood Libel to Blood Community: An Untold Chapter in Modern Jewish Culture” (2005).
  • Judith Baskin (University of Oregon): “Dying for God: Piety and Gender in Jewish Medieval Martyrdom Narratives” (2004).
  • Michael Marrus (University of Toronto): “Jacques Maritain, the Vatican, and the Holocaust: A Plea Unanswered” (2003).
  • Reuven Firestone (Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles): “Divine Authority and Mass Violence: Holy War in Judaism, Christianity and Islam” (2002).
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Sharjah Chair in Global Islam Annual Lecture

Due to the changing demographic in Canadian society, 2007 statistics estimated Canada’s Muslim population at between 750,000 and one million, the majority of whom are in their mid 20s, a chair in Global Islam was established by the Amir of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, in 2008. Professor Liyakat Takim was appointed as the holder of this position in 2009. 


The need to make Islam known to both the academic and non-academic community and to foster links with the Hamilton and Toronto communities and to project an accurate image of Islam led to the idea of having an annual lecture series on an Islamic topic. Since 2011, several top Muslim scholars have been invited to address the Annual Global Islam Lecture.


Past Lectures:

  • AbdolKarim Soroush (Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs Georgetown University): “Is an Islamic Reform Necessary?” (2018).
  • Lynda Clarke (Concordia University): ” ‘We Have Made You into Nations and Tribes that You May Know One Another’: A Verse of the Quran and Western Error” (2017).
  • Mohammed Fadel (University of Toronto Faculty of Law): “The Representational Ideal and Sunni Public Law” (2016).
  • Abdulaziz Sachedina (George Mason University) : “Islam and Human Rights: Conversation between Religion and Secularism” (2014).
  • Yvonne Haddad (Georgetown University): “Islam, Gender, and the West” (2011).
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The Hannah History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Speaker Series

The Hannah History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Speaker Series is a yearly colloquium series organized by the Hannah Chair of the Faculty of Health Sciences, jointly appointed to Religious Studies. The series features interdisciplinary speakers in the history of medicine, the medical humanities and religious studies.

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Meyer-Schreiber Lecture Series

Funded through a generous gift from the Herb & CeCe Schreiber Foundation, these lectures focus on modern Jewish Studies, especially relations between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and commemorates the friendship between the late Ben Meyer, a professor from the Department of Religious Studies, and philanthropist and businessman Herb Schreiber.


Past Lectures

  • Mary Boys (Union Theological Seminary, New York) and David Fox Sandmel (Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League): “What Our Grandparents Couldn’t Have Imagined: 50 Years of Jewish-Christian Relations.” A celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate, on the Church’s Relation to Non-Christian Religions. (2015–2016).
  • Mark Cohen (Princeton University): “Modern Myths of Muslim Antisemitism” (2014–2015).
  • Dr. Stefan Reif (Cambridge University): “Lessons from the past: what ancient Jewish manuscripts teach us about inter-faith relations” (2013–2014).
  • Robert Ventresca (King’s University College, Western University): “Pius XII and the Jews: Between History and Myth” (2012–2013).
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Department Colloquia

Visit our events page to keep track of all of our events and activities.


If you would like to receive email notices about our upcoming speaker events, please send us your email address.