Faculty & Staff

John E. Cort dr. Cort, John Edward E. Cort

John E. Cort
Professor of Asian and Comparative Religions & Chair (Religion)
Faculty  |  Religion, East Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, International Studies
Blair Knapp Hall
B.A., M.A., University of Wisconsin; M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University

John E. Cort has degrees in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin (B.A., 1974; M.A., 1982), and in the Study of Religion from Harvard University (A.M., 1984; Ph.D., 1989). He teaches our courses on religions of Asia, as well as comparative courses on issues such as environmentalism, art, human rights and nonviolence. He is also on the East Asian Studies, Environmental Studies and International Studies program committees, and regularly teaches courses that cross-list in these programs.

John is a scholar of India, where he has lived for seven years over the past four decades. Before entering graduate school, he worked as a community organizer on issues of disarmament and social justice in Washington, D.C. He also enjoys translating poetry from several Indian languages into American English.

Research Details: 

John’s research focuses on the Jain traditions of South Asia, and religion, society, culture and history more broadly in western India, in particular Gujarat and Rajasthan. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in India. He is currently working on two book on Jain devotional texts and practices, with working titles of Naked Devotion and Devotion to the Dispassionate Lord. His research has been supported by grants from the American Institute of Indian Studies, the American Philosophical Society, the Asian Cultural Council, Denison University, the Freeman Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, the Getty Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

He is very active in service to the profession. He is an elected member of the American Society for the Study of Religion. He has served as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Indian Studies since 1998, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Council on Southern Asian Art twice, in 2000 to 2003, and 2010 to 2014. He served as co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Religion in South Asia Section of the American Academy of Religion in 2008-11, and has served as co-chair of the Jain Studies Group of AAR since 2011.


He has written, edited and translated the following books and special journal issues:

  • (Co-editor, with Andrea Luithle-Hardenberg and Leslie C. Orr), Cooperation and Competition, Conflict and Contribution: The Jaina Community, British Expansion and Scholarship during the 19th and Early 20th Century. Berlin: EB-Verlag, forthcoming.
  • Framing the Jina: Narratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • (With Lawrence A. Babb and Michael W. Meister), Desert Temples: Sacred Centers of Rajasthan in Historical, Art-Historical and Social Contexts. Jaipur: Rawat, 2008.
  • (Translator), Jagannātha Panditaraja, The Saving Waves of the Milk-White Ganga. Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 2007.
  • (Guest Editor), American Studies of the Jains. Jinamañjari 34:2 (October 2006).
  • Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India. New York and Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001. Paperback edition 2011.
  • (Editor) Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. Reprint Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1999.
  • (Editor) Kendall W. Folkert. Scripture and Community: Collected Essays on the Jains. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993.
  • (Translator) Bhartrhari, An Old Tree Living by the River. Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1983.

Recent and forthcoming articles include the following:

  • Defending Jainism against Christianity and Colonialism: Jains and Presbyterian Missionaries in Colonial Gujarat.” Cooperation and Competition, Conflict and Contribution.
  • God's Eyes: The Manufacture, Installation and Experience of External Eyes on Jain Icons.” Corinne Dempsey and Tracy Pintchman (eds.), Sacred Matters: Material Religion in South Asian Traditions. Albany: SUNY Press, forthcoming.
  • In Search of 'Hindu Fiction': The First 'American School' of Jain Studies.” Cooperation and Competition, Conflict and Contribution.
  • Jain Identity and the Public Sphere in Nineteenth-Century India.” Vasudha Dalmia and Martin Fuchs (eds.), Multiplicity and Monoliths: Religious Interactions in India, 18th-20th Centuries. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
  • Making it Vernacular in Agra: The Practice of Translation by Seventeenth-century Digambar Jains.” Francesca Orsini (ed.), Tellings Not Texts: Singing, Story-telling and Performance in North India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
  • ’This is How We Play Holi’: Allegory in North Indian Digambar Jain Holī Songs.” John Stratton Hawley, Anshu Malhotra and Tyler Williams (eds.), Texts and Traditions in Early Modern North India: Selected Essays from the Eleventh International Conference on Early Modern Literatures in North India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
  • When Will I Meet Such a Guru? Images of the Yogi in Digambar Hymns.” Christopher Key Chapple and Olle Qvarnstöm (eds.), Jaina Yoga. London: Routledge, forthcoming.
  • Daulatram Plays Holi: Digambar Bhakti Songs of Springtime.” Jaina Studies: Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies 8 (2013), 33-35.
  • A Digambar Icon of the Goddess Jvalamalini.” Jaina Studies: Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies 8 (2013), 42-43.
  • “God Outside and God Inside: North Indian Digambar Jain Performance of Bhakti.” Imre Bangha (ed.), Bhakti Beyond the Forest: Current Research on Early Modern Literatures in North India, 2003-2009, 255-86. New Delhi: Manohar, 2013.
  • ’Today I Play Holi in My City’: Digambar Jain Holi Songs from Jaipur.” International Journal of Jaina Studies (online), 9:7 (2013), 1-50.
  • “Situating Darsan: Seeing the Digambar Jina Icon in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century North India.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 16 (2012), 1-56.
  • A Digambar Icon of Twenty-Four Jinas in the Ackland Museum, University of North Carolina.” Jaina Studies: Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies 7 (2012), 30-33.
  • Four Japanese Derivations: Haibun.” Abraxas 48 (2012), 82-88.
  • History and Indology as Authoritative Knowledge: Debates about Jain Icons in Colonial India.” Brian Hatcher and Michael Dodson (eds.), Trans-Colonial Modernities in South Asia, 137-61. London: Routledge, 2012.
  • “The Goddesses of Sravana Belgola.” Nalini Balbir (ed.), Svasti: Essays in Honour of Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah for his 75th Birthday, 346-53. Krishnapuradoddi: K. S. Muddappa Smaraka Trust, 2010.
  • “In Defense of Icons in Three Languages: The Iconophilic Writings of Yasovijaya.” International Journal of Jaina Studies (Online) 6:2 (2010), 1-45.
  • (With Lawrence A. Babb and Michael W. Meister), “Desert Temples: Archaeology in Present Time.” Pierfrancesco Callieri and Luca Colliva (eds.), South Asian Archaeology 2007: Proceedings of the 19th Meeting of the European Association of South Asian Archaeology in Ravenna, July 2007. Volume II: Historic Periods, 19-26. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2010.
  • “World Renouncing Monks and World Celebrating Temples and Icons: The Ritual Culture of Temples and Icons in Jainism.” Himanshu Prabha Ray (ed.), Archaeology and Text: The Temple in South Asia, 268-95. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • “Budhjan's Petition: Digambar Bhakti in Nineteenth-Century Jaipur.” Jaina Studies: Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies 4 (2009), 39-42.
  • “Jains and Jainism in Patan.” Manibhai K. Prajapati (ed.), The Glorious History and Culture of Anhilwad Patan (Gujarat) (Prof. Mukundbhai P. Brahmakshatriya Felicitation Volume), 540-88. Patan: Prof. Mukundbhai P. Brahmakshatriya Sanman Samiti, 2009.
  • “Contemporary Jain Mandala Rituals.” Phyllis Granoff (ed.), Victorious Ones: Jain Images of Perfection, 140-57. New York: Rubin Museum of Art; and Ahmedabad: Mapin Publishing, 2009.
  • “The Cosmic Man and the Human Condition.” Phyllis Granoff (ed.), Victorious Ones: Jain Images of Perfection, 34-47. New York: Rubin Museum of Art; and Ahmedabad: Mapin Publishing, 2009.
  • “An Epitome of Medieval Svetambara Jain Literary Culture: A Review and Study of Jinaratnasuri's Lilavatisara.” International Journal of Jaina Studies (online) 5 (2009), 1-33.
  • “Green Pratikraman: A Friendly Proposal for Global Jains.” Ecology—the Jain Way (15th Biennial JAINA Convention 2009 Souvenir), 122-23.
  • “Helen M. Johnson: The First American Woman Scholar of Sanskrit.” Journal of the Johnson Library and Museum 3 (2009), 31-47.
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John L. Jackson Jackson, John Lindsey L. Jackson

John L. Jackson
Associate Professor
Faculty  |  Religion, Black Studies
Blair Knapp Hall
B.S., Miles College; M.Div, Harvard Divinity School; Ph.D., Ohio State University

Director and Associate Professor of Black Studies (B.S. degree from Miles College; M. Div. Harvard Divinity School; Ph.D. from Ohio State University).


Introduction to Black Studies; and Black Religion and Black Theology, Rebellion, Resistance and Black Religion

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Maia Kotrosits Kotrosits, Maia Kotrosits

Maia Kotrosits
Assistant Professor
Faculty  |  Religion, Queer Studies, Women's and Gender Studies
Blair Knapp Hall
B.A., Binghamton University; M.Div., M.Phil., Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary

Maia Kotrosits' research finds points of contact between ancient Christian/diaspora Jewish literature and contemporary cultural studies, queer and feminist theories. Surfacing themes of violence, belonging, and collective experiences of pain and loss, she finds connections and disjoints between the ancient world and some worlds of the present. She has co-written books on the ancient Coptic poem The Thunder: Perfect Mind, as well as on the Gospel of Mark. Her forthcoming book, Rethinking Early Christian Identity: Affect, Violence, and Belonging (Fortress Press, 2015) is a re-examination of the centrality of the designation "Christian" in the doing of what is called early Christian history, and a set of proposals for how to understand some New Testament and affiliated literature without it.

Dr. Kotrosits edits the Bible and Cultural Studies series with Palgrave Macmillan.

Research Overview: 
Diaspora Jewish social formation; "Christian identity"; constructions of orthodoxy/heresy; Nag Hammadi literature; formation of the biblical canon; queer and feminist theories; postcolonial and diaspora studies.


  • Rethinking Early Christian Identity: Affect, Violence, and Belonging. Fortress Press (forthcoming in Spring 2015).
  • Re-Reading the Gospel of Mark Amidst Pain and Trauma (co-authored with Hal Taussig). Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
  • The Thunder: Perfect Mind: A New Translation and Introduction (co-authored with Hal Taussig, Jared Calaway, Justin Lasser and Celene Lillie). Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.


  • Seeing is Feeling: Revelation’s Enthroned Lamb and Ancient Visual Affects,” Biblical Interpretation (forthcoming, 2014).
  • The Queer Life of Christian Exceptionalism,” Culture and Religion 15.2 (June 2014): 156-185.
  • Institutional Brokenness and Other Quandaries of Feminist Belonging,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 29.2 (Fall 2013).
  • “The Ekklesia and the Politics of the Meal: Re-thinking 'Christian Identity' in and through Acts,” in Mahl und religiöse Identität im frühen Christentum eds. Matthias Klinghardtand Hal Taussig, 241-278. Tanz Verlag (2012).
  • “Romance and Danger at Nag Hammadi” The Bible and Critical Theory 8.1 (March 2012): 39-52.
  • “The Rhetoric of Intimate Spaces: Affect and Performance in the Corinthian Correspondence” Union Seminary Quarterly Review Vol. 62, no. 3-4: 134-151.
  • “The Thunder: Perfect Mind and Early Christian Conflicts About Gender” The Fourth R Vol. 24, no.1. (January/February 2011): 7-12.
  • “Re-reading Canonical Identity: A Sexual Ethics of Bible Interpretation” Studies in Gender and Sexuality vol. 11, issue 2 (April 2010): 89-100.
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Erin Lennon Lennon, Erin Marie Lennon

Academic Administrative Assistant
Staff  |  Religion
Blair Knapp Hall
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Jonathan Moore dr. Moore, Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore
Assistant Professor
Faculty  |  Religion
Blair Knapp Hall
B.A., Illinois Wesleyan University, M.A., Ph.D., University of Chicago

My first book, Suing for America's Soul:  John Whitehead, the Rutherford Institute, and Conservative Christianity in the Courts (Emory Studies in Law and Religion, Eerdmans, 2007), examines the rise of conservative Christian legal advocacy groups in recent decades, and their effects on both evangelical Protestantism and contemporary church-state conflicts.

My book reviews have appeared in Church History, The Journal of Religion, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and The Christian Century. I also assisted Martin Marty in writing two books which grew out of our work together at the Public Religion Project: Politics, Religion, and the Common Good: Advancing a Distinctly American Conversation about Religion's Role in Our Shared Life (Jossey-Bass, 2000), and Education, Religion, and the Common Good (Jossey-Bass, 2000).

My current research projects include a book-length examination of what happened when a merry band of Chicago Wiccans decided to move to Hoopeston, Illinois—a downstate town of six thousand dominated by evangelicals—about eight years ago. The story of this community's initial reaction, and the subsequent interaction between pagans and Christians, fascinates on many levels, and provides important lessons regarding the possibilities and limits for religious pluralism in contemporary America. I'm also researching representations of Muslims in American children's literature, which offers another window into the relationship between religion and national identity.

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Keun-Joo Christine Pae dr. Pae, Christine K. Pae

Keun-Joo Christine Pae
Associate Professor
Faculty  |  Religion, Queer Studies, Women's and Gender Studies
Blair Knapp Hall
B.Ed., Seoul National University of Education, Seoul; M.Th., Yonsei University, Seoul; M.Div., Yale University, M.Phil, Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary in NYC

Dr. K. Christine Pae joined the faculty at the Department of Religion in Fall 2008. Since then, she has taught religious ethics, Christian social ethics, and transnational feminist ethics for both the Department of Religion and the Women’s Studies Program. As a Christian feminist ethicist, Christine’s academic interests include feminist peacemaking and interfaith spiritual activism, transnationalized militarism with focus on intersection between gender and race, transnational feminist ethics, and Asian/Asian-American perspectives on post-colonial racial relations. Currently Christine is working on her manuscript, Sex and War: A Christian Feminist Ethic of War and Peace. She has published and presented several essays concerning war, women, Asian American Christianity, and religious ethics. As a co-convener, she serves the Asian American Ethics Working Group at the Society of Christian Ethics (2011-2013).

  • Minjung Theology and Transnational Militarism.”  Ahn Byung-Mu and Minjung (eds.), Theology in the 21st Century.  Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2012. (Forthcoming)
  • Asian Ethics.”  Edited by Miguel De La Torre (ed.), Ethics: A Liberative Approach.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2012 (Forthcoming).
  • Will to Power, Divided Self: Valerie Saiving and Reinhold Niebuhr on Sin.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 2012 (Forthcoming).
  • Making an Asian American Christian Public Ethic: Unavoidable Burden of Race.” Journal of Society of Christian Ethics, Spring 2012 (Forthcoming).
  • Korean American Churches’ Negotiating Spaces in Flushing, the Queens of New York City.”  Nadia Mian, Richard Cimino, and Wei-Shan Huang (eds.),  Religions and New York City: An Ecological Frame.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 2011 (Forthcoming).
  • A Solidary-Talk among Women of Color: Creating the “We” Category.” Keeping the Light: Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship.  Kate Ott and Melanie Harris (eds.). New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2011.
  • Feminist Theo-Ethical Reflection on War: In Remembrance of ‘Comfort Women.’”  Yale University Divinity School. Reflections.
  • Western Princesses—a Missing Story:   in the Borderlands: A Christian Feminist Ethical Analysis of U.S. Military Prostitution in South Korea.”  Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 29, no.2 (2009), 121-39.
  • Negotiated or Negotiating Spaces: Korean Churches in Flushing, Queens of New York City.” Cross Currents: Religious Communities and Global Cities 58, no. 4 (2008), 456-74.
  • We Are Asian and Asian-American Women—Generation X: A Post- Colonial Feminist Liturgy in North America.” New and Borrowed Rites: Liturgy 23,no. 1(2007).
  • Allergy: Killing the Other vs. God: Liberating the Other—A Theological Reflection toward Liberation of the Korean Military Wives” Doing Theology from Korean Women’s Perspectives: Ewha Journal of Feminist Theology 4 (2006).
Community Service: 
  • 2011-Present: Convener, Asian and Asian American Working Group, Society of Christian Ethics
  • 2009-Present: Denison University Diversity Advisory Committee
  • Hosted a teaching workshop for the junior faculty of color.  
  • 2009-Present: Denison Museum Board
  • 2008-Present: Women’s Studies Committee, and Queer Studies Committee, Denison University
  • Hosted two campus-wide public events on religion and sexuality.
  • 2009: Women of Color Leadership Project National Women’s Studies Association
  • 2009-2010: Program Committee, Peace for Life: World without Empire International Conference in New York City 
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Dave O. Woodyard ’54 dr. Woodyard, David O. Woodyard ’54

Dave O. Woodyard '54
Faculty  |  Religion, Queer Studies
Blair Knapp Hall
B.A., Denison University; M.Div., Union Theological Seminary; D.Min., Vanderbilt University

David Woodyard's personal and professional interests focus on the intersection of religion and society. As a theologian he is interested in developing–and helping students to develop–a public theology. He aspires to explore the Christian tradition as it addresses the personal sphere but also as it makes claims upon the social realm. Authentic faith leads to civic responsibility as well as spiritual fulfillment. In the classroom Woodyard is interested in enabling students both to come to a clearer understanding of their identity and to challenge the ways in which they have understood the world. As an academic advisor, he is committed to creating an environment for students in which they can explore why they are in a liberal arts institution and how they may relate that to a vocation and a meaningful life. Woodyard's scholarly interests in recent decades have been in collaborative work with a colleague in economics. Their most recent book relates religion and economics to ecological issues.

Honors & Awards: 
  • Denison Alumni Chair (2009-2014)
  • Charles and Nancy Brickman Distinguished Service Chair (1998-2003)
  • Denison, Teaching Excellence Award
  • National Center for Study of Freshman Year, Outstanding Freshman Advocate
  • Crossed Keys, Teacher of the Year
  • Mortar Board, Faculty Service Award
  • Delta Gamma, Teacher of the Year
  • Delta Chi, Teacher of the Year

Books Published

  • The Church in the Time of Empire. Circle Books (U.K), 2011.
  • Liberating Nature: Theology and Economics in the New Order. With Paul King. Pilgrim Press, 1999.
  • Risking Liberation: Middle Class Powerlessness and Social Heroism. With Paul King and Kent Maynard. John Knox Press, 1988.
  • Journey Toward Freedom: Economic Structures and Theological Perspectives. With Paul King. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1982.
  • Strangers and Exiles: Living By Promises. Westminster Press, 1974.
  • Beyond Cynicism: The Practice of Hope. Westminster Press, 1972.
  • The Opaqueness of God. Westminster Press, 1970.
  • To Be Human Now. Westminster Press, 1969.
  • Living Without God-Before God. Westminster Press, 1968.
Student Collaborations: 

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Dave Woodyard supervised thirty-three senior research projects. Topics selected by students include the following:

  • Helping or Hurting: Exploring the Role of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic Church”
  • A Theology of Culture: An Examination of the Relationship Between the Demonic, the Kairos, and Religious Socialism in Paul Tillich’s Theology”
  • Desmond M. Tutu and James H. Cone: Theological Standpoints on Racial Injustice”
  • From a Wealth of Gospel to a Gospel of Wealth: Poverty to Prosperity”
  • How Does Religion Affect the Social Order? A Study of the Impact of Liberation Theology on the Catholic Church in El Salvador”
  • Secular Messages in Religious Settings: A Theological Critique of Rod Parsley’s Political Agenda”
  • Building a Relationship with the Earth”
  • Hijacking the Holy: Reclaiming the Female Voice in Christianity”
  • Claiming a Space of Empowerment”
  • Beyond Pacifism: A Theological Debate Between Reinhold Niebuhr, Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer”
  • The Many Faces of Hagar”
  • Walter Brueggemann and the Prophetic Tradition: The Prophet on the College Campus”
  • Cultivating Contemporary Spiritual Awareness and the Theology of Paul Tillich”
  • Spousal Abuse in the Church? Religious Ideologies, Biblical Interpretations, and Their Implications for Marriage”
Professional Service (includes Denison Service): 
  • Director of Freshman Studies
  • Chair, Department of Religion
  • Advisory Committee on Presidential Selection
  • President's Advisory Board
  • Chair of Faculty (three times)
  • General Education Revision Committee
  • Committee on Sexual Harassment
  • North Central Review Committee
  • Committee on Re-establishing the Honors Program
  • Latin American Studies Committee
  • Classics Committee
  • Committee on the Status of Women
  • Chair, Dunbar Humanities Scholarship
  • Chair, Goodspeed Lecture Series
  • Women’s Studies Committee
  • Faculty Appeals Committee
  • Queer Studies Committee
  • C-Smart Committee
  • Faculty Advisor for Lambda Chi Alpha
Community Service: 
  • Board of Directors, Union Theological Seminary, New York City
  • President, Hospice Services of Licking County
  • President, Planned Parenthood of East Central Ohio
  • Advisory Committee, Battered Women's Shelter
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • President, Partners United (Youth at Risk)
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