The Department of Religion, in conjunction with the Coptic Studies Council, organizes events promoting the study of Coptic Studies.
Some of the themes discussed in the past were:
Maged S. A. Mikhail
California State University Fullerton
April 22, 2015
The Arab conquest in the seventh century initiated fundamental changes in every aspect of Egyptian life and culture. Far too often, however, academics have taken for granted the incremental shifts by which Egypt’s overwhelmingly Christian, Byzanto-Coptic society transitioned into a culture dominated by the Islamic religion and the Arabic language. This lecture traces the centuries-long processes by which that transformation came about. It focuses on the means by which early Arab Muslims exchanged their tribal, marshal ethic for agricultural interests and urban professions, and how the Coptic Orthodox Church and community negotiated Arab political rule and, subsequently, a new socio-religious environment. The analysis argues for the bourgeoning of a new society in tenth-century Egypt—one in which Christians and Muslims shared the same socio-economic concerns and expressed similar anxieties. Strikingly, however, that nascent society was at once homogenous, yet deeply sectarian.
Maged S.A. Mikhail is Associate Professor of History at California State University at Fullerton. He received his MA and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Select Publications: From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt: Religion, Identity and Politics after the Arab Conquest (London: I.B.Tauris, 2014); “A Lost Chapter in the History of Wadi al-Natrun (Scetis): The Coptic Lives and Monastery of Abba John Khame,” Le Muséon: Revue d’études orientales 127.1-2 (2014), 149-85; “The Coptic Orthodox Church and Community from the Arab Conquest through the Mamluk Sultanate (641 – 1517 CE),” in The Coptic Christian Heritage: History, Faith, and Culture, ed. L. Farag (New York: Rutledge Press, 2014); “An Orientation to the Sources and Study of Early Islamic Egypt (641 – 868 CE),” History Compass 8.8 (2010), 929-950; “Notes on the Ahl al-Dīwān: The Arab-Egyptian Army of the Seventh through Ninth Centuries CE,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008), 273-284.
Clinical Professor of Coptic Studies
Claremont Graduate University
Jan. 25, 2015
Gawdat Gabra is currently Clinical Professor of Coptic Studies at Claremont Graduate University and Co-Editor in Chief of the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia. He is a former director of the Coptic Museum in Cairo and a member of the board of the Society of Coptic Archaeology. He has taught at American and Egyptian universities. He is the author of numerous articles and has authored, co-authored, and edited many books on the literary and material culture of Egyptian Christianity, including Be Thou There: The Holy Family’s Journey in Egypt (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2001); Coptic Monasteries: Egypt’s Monastic Art and Architecture (Cairo: AUC Press, 2002); Christianity and Monasticism in the Fayoum Oasis (Cairo: AUC Press, 2005); The Treasures of Coptic Art in the Coptic Museum and Churches of Old Cairo (Cairo: AUC Press, 2007); The Churches of Egypt (Cairo: AUC Press, 2007); A Historical Dictionary of the Coptic Church (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008); and Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt (Cairo: AUC Press, 2014).
Nelly van Doorn-Harder
Wake Forest University, North Carolina
Sept. 23, 2011
The lecture will compare experiences of non-Muslim communities in countries such as Indonesia and Egypt that went through revolutionary changes before and during the Arab Spring. We will discuss the agency of minorities in the political and social reconfigurations with special focus on the role religious leaders, politicians, and the media can play in lending voices to those promoting or suppressing basic religious rights.
Nelly van Doorn-Harder is Professor of Islamic Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Her research straddles issues concerning women and religion and those concerning minorities, minority cultures, and human rights in Muslim countries. She has done her main fieldwork in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, specializing in indigenous Christianity of Egypt and in Muslim organizations in Indonesia. She has authored and co-authored books, papers, and book chapters in these areas. Her most recent publication on the Copts is: The Emergence of the Modern Coptic Papacy: The Egyptian Church and its Leadership from the Ottoman Period to the Present, co-authored with Magdi Guirguis (2011). Currently she is writing on Coptic spirituality, and editing a book on new developments in Coptic Studies. She is on the Editorial Board of the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia, currently under construction at: http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/col/cce.
Middlebury College, Vermont
March 27, 2011
This lecture will juxtapose two religious renewal movements and will analyze their implications for understanding Coptic life in Egypt’s past and present. An exploration of a revivalist tendency from the middle centuries of Ottoman rule will be contrasted with the modern "charismatic renewal" in Egypt. The lecture will highlight the specific use of literature, art, oratory, and other media in spreading and transforming religious and political ideals among Copts.
Febe Armanios is an Assistant Professor of History at Middlebury College, Vermont. Her most recent publications, Coptic Christianity in Ottoman Egypt (Oxford University Press, 2011), highlights how Copts identified and distinguished themselves from other groups within Ottoman Egyptian society by turning to an array of religious traditions, such as the visitation of saints’ shrines, the relocation of major festivals to remote destinations, the development of new pilgrimage practices, as well as the writing of sermons that articulated a Coptic religious ethos in reaction to Catholic missionary discourses.
Azusa Pacific University
Nov. 30, 2010
The lecture will focus on the complexities of Christian identity in Egypt during the Middle Ages, challenging the concept of "dhimmitude" (the definition and limitation of non-Muslim identity by Islamic jurisprudence and ideology) with the political and social realities that informed internal Coptic initiative on the one hand, and realpolitik of the Muslim authorities on the other. It will also address the importance – and the sensitivities – of these issues in the contemporary Egyptian and regional contexts.
Kurt Werthmuller, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of history at Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California and a historian of the Middle East, specializing in medieval Islam as well as a variety of interests in the modern Middle East (including Israel/Palestine and Egypt). His most recent research has been on the Coptic Christian community of Ayyubid Egypt and the reign of the Ayyubid sultan al-Malik al-Kamil (r. 1218-1238). Werthmuller has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East, including several years in Egypt, a number of academic visits to Syria, Jordan, and Turkey, and various travels in Israel and the Palestinian territories. He is the author of Coptic Identity and Ayyubid Politics in Egypt, 1218-1250 (AUC Press 2010) as well as articles including "The Extraordinary Ordinariness of Ibn Khaldun: The Great Medieval Islamic Historian in Context" (Historically Speaking 2007), and "The Copts in Egypt, 300-1000 CE" / "The Copts in Egypt, 1000-1500 CE" for the World History Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO 2010).
York University, Toronto, Canada
With introductory notes by
His Grace Bishop Serapion
Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Southern California
On Ecumenism between the Coptic and Russian Orthodox Churches
Dean, School of Religion, CGU
Chair, Department of Religious Studies, CMC
Feb. 17, 2010
Relations between temporal and ecclesiastical authorities were once at the center of public life everywhere. With the progress of secularization, church-state relations have receded into the background in most countries. But this rich and complex problematic is now revealing itself again in various cultural settings on a global scale. Comparing the historical and contemporary experiences of two sister churches – Coptic and Russian Orthodox – in this context can help understand the evolving role of religion in the contemporary world.
Sergei Plekhanov teaches political science at York University in Toronto, Canada. He also serves as Secretary of the Canadian Pugwash Group, Canadian section, of the global movement of scientists for peace and nuclear disarmament. Born and educated in Moscow, he worked for over 20 years at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and in the 1980s was an advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev. Plekhanov is an expert on Russia and other post-communist countries. The revival of Orthodoxy in Russia is one of his current research interests.
H.G. Bishop Youssef
Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Southern United States
December 1, 2009
Culture consists of socially acquired information through beliefs, values, knowledge, ideas, etc. that impact one’s behavior and attitude especially in the family setting. The change from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar one is faced by many Egyptian Christians in America. This lecture will present how individuals adapt differently to a new culture and illustrate the challenges imposed during this adjustment period. The lecture will also explore the impact of individuals’ adaptation on their family relationships and the role one has in the family adaptation process. This will lead to the most important question: what is the impact of cultural adaptation on one’s spirituality?
His Grace Bishop Youssef has been Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States since 1995. His monastic life began in 1986 after practicing medicine as an ENT specialist. He started his ministry in America in 1989 serving as a priest for the Coptic congregation in Dallas, TX. He received a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX in 2002. Among other projects in the diocese, His Grace Bishop Youssef established four institutions: a Family Ministry Program, the St. Athanasius Theological Seminary, the St. Mary & St. Moses Abbey in Corpus Christi, TX and the St. Mary Convent in New Smyrna, Florida.
Nelly van Doorn-Harder
Surjit Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana
March 22, 2009
Abstract of Part 1: Icons and depictions of formative events such as the Flight to Egypt are among the most recognizable aspects of Coptic visual culture. Each community within the Coptic Church has put its own imprint on various dynamic expressions of Coptic faith and piety. The lecture will highlight the specific role of women in the formation of Coptic visual culture.
Abstract of Part 2: Throughout her monastic life, Mother Irini, the Superior of St. Mercurius (Abu Saifein) Abbey in Cairo, was legendary for her exemplary life of prayer and her visionary insights. It was not until after her death in 2006 that the scope and impact of her vision for Coptic spirituality and identity became apparent. The nuns of her abbey are executing her spiritual testament which offers a blueprint for the position of women within the Coptic Church.
Nelly van Doorn-Harder held faculty positions in the Netherlands, Egypt, Indonesia, and the United States. Her research straddles issues concerning women and religion and those concerning minorities and human rights in Muslim countries. She has done her main fieldwork in the Middle East and Southeast Asia; specializing in Coptic Christianity of Egypt and Islam in Indonesia. She has authored numerous publications in these areas, including four books entitled: Contemporary Coptic Nuns; Between Desert and City, edited with Kari Vogt; Women Shaping Islam; and Coping with Evil in Religion and Culture, edited with Lourens Minnema.
H.G. Bishop Serapion
Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Los Angeles
Oct. 29, 2008
Christian unity is an important element in the confession of faith and liturgical life of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The lecture will present an Orthodox perspective on Christian unity and illustrate the Orthodoxendeavor to seek Christ’s desire that all of those who believe in Him may be one. The lecture will also reflect on the Coptic experience in the ecumenical movement, both in the well-established forums such as the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ, and in the newer forums such as the Christian Churches Together in the USA and the Global Christian Forum. Still, the question remains: What is the future of ecumenism?
His Grace Bishop Serapion has been the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Los Angeles since 1995. He is on the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ and the Steering Committee of Christian Churches Together in the USA. In 1985, he was ordained General Bishop for Ecumenical and Social Services. For many years he served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and the Life and Service Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches, and as Vice President of the All Africa Conference of Churches.