The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York


Due April 20th – applications for Dissertation Fellowship at the Committee for the Study of Religion

The Committee for the Study of Religion is conducting the following Fellowship search for the 2017–2018 academic year:


    Applications are invited from students of the humanities and humanistic social sciences such as anthropology, religion, sociology, philosophy, political science, history, English, art history, and comparative literature who engage and transect our seminar topic. This fellowship is only open to Graduate Center doctoral candidates (i.e. you must be Level III. There are no exceptions). Fellows will be expected to participate in the weekly Committee seminar. Please note: Ability to attend weekly Committee seminars is a prerequisite of eligibility. See Committee website for more details about the seminar theme and time for the upcoming year.

    With generous support from the Graduate Center, CUNY, and the Provost’s Office, successful candidates will be granted $10,000 total for Fall 2017–Spring 2018 in return for a commitment to fully participate in the work of the Committee and in the weekly seminar. The basis for selection of participants will rest primarily on the relevance to the overall project of the proposal submitted by applicants. In accord with the interdisciplinary aim of the program, selections will also be made with an eye to maintaining disciplinary diversity.

    Application Components

    Each application must include:

    • Cover sheet
    • Statement of applicability: In one single-spaced page or less, please highlight the connection between your research and the theme
    • 9-page project description, including the following:

    o             150-word abstract at the top of the first page.

    o             Project description should include discussion of the background, relevant literature, methodology, data, projected results, and a timeline/description indicating expected progress.

    o             The text describing the dissertation project should be double-spaced using a 12-point font with numbered pages and a 1-inch margin.

    o             Students are advised to keep in mind that the review committees will be composed of faculty from various disciplines.

    • 1–page selected bibliography (can be single-spaced)
    • Two-page curriculum vitae
    • Current Graduate Center transcript; students may submit the unofficial copy that can be printed from Banner

    The application materials should be assembled into a single PDF document in the above listed order.

    Application Instructions

    Application materials should be saved as a single PDF and named using the following format: Last Name, First Name, Program. Completed applications should be submitted by email to: Please contact us with any questions.

The Committee program consists of a regular weekly seminar on Wednesdays (12:30–2:00pm) supplemented by reading groups, occasional workshops, and conferences. This broad theme is designed to attract graduates and faculty across the broad spectrum of the humanities and social sciences, and thus weekly seminars are intended to have a multidisciplinary composition. Participants will present works in-progress. In previous years, work from the seminar has often been published.

Religion, Class, and Social Order

The annual theme for the 2017-2018 seminar series of the Committee for the Study of Religion concerns one of the most enduring topics in the social sciences: the relationships among religion, social class, and social order more generally.  These relationships have been of central concern throughout history and have preoccupied scholars and social scientists, resulting in such influential modern classics as Marx’s “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and Durkheim’s Elementary Forms of the Religious Life or more recently Peter Paris’ Religion and Poverty and Jared Rubin’s Rulers, Religion, and Riches: Why the West Got Rich and the Middle East Did Not.


These contributions probed the nature and extent of religiosity among different social classes and the consequences for social order of religious belief and observance more broadly.  The question of the possible obfuscating character of religion in regard to economic interests persists; at the same time, religious belief continues to provide a foundation for many people’s engagement with regard to remaking social order, particularly in the economic realm.  This becomes evident in historical cases where popular religion has offered a challenge and a radical alternative to the existing social and economic order, or movements such as messsianism threatened to overturn it altogether.  Steven Sharot’s assertion that economic decline accompanied Jewish messianism and more recently, the Catholic leader, Pope Francis, in his conscious identification with the powerless, has articulated a critical perspective on economic life that is notably out of step with a “neo-liberal” stance; but the connection between religion and the socially disenfranchised can swing the other way as well, in populist authoritarianism based in part on religious claims.  Applicants for membership in the seminar are invited to apply for the seminar to engage with these and other issues, including:

  • Religious ideas about class and social order
  • Religion, class, resistance, and rebellion
  • How and why certain religions may emerge from conflicts in the social order
  • Class, social order and religious conversion
  • Religion, heresy, and the defense of social order
  • Popular religion and popular politics
  • Religious heterodoxy, and the social order in literature
  • Popular religion and political movements and philosophies
  • Socio-religious implications of radical religious movements including messianism and millennialism
  • The place of these issues in the history of specific disciplines
  • Religion and poverty
  • Religion and wealth


Guidelines for Fellow Participation

Fellows will be expected to participate in the weekly Committee seminar, held Wednesday afternoons from 12:30-2:00 at The Graduate Center. Ability to attend seminars is a prerequisite of eligibility. Fellows will be expected to present their work in either the fall or spring semester. Seminars will thus include presentations by fellows, talks by visitors and readings from prescribed texts. Fellows are also expected to do their best to attend corresponding public events on the theme of secularization and modernity that will take place throughout the year.

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