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The RESTtalks lecture series was launched in October 2019 as a forum for showcasing the research interests and teaching expertise of our core faculty. Three lectures took place in 2019/2020. The series resumed for a second “seasons” in January of 2023, and season three began in October 2023. Future speakers in the series are Prof. Donald Burke (January 29) and Prof. Juli Vig (February 12).

2023-2024 Season

Professor Donald Burke completed his Ph.D. at York University in Social and Political Thought. He has been teaching in the Department of Humanities for 25 years. Prof. Burke’s research area is the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, specializing on Hegel’s Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, and the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. He has published two book chapters on Theodor W. Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory and a journal article on Gothic themes in the music, lyrics, and first novel of the Australian post-punk musician Nick Cave. His current research is on Hegel’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita on which he is proposing a new course for the Religious Studies Program.

Dr. Carla Ionescu is a Romanian refugee who escaped the Communist regime with her family when she was 10 years old. She is also an adrenaline junkie, an animal lover, and a natural born storyteller. She likes to ride motorcycles real fast, and research through archival documents very carefully. Carla’s research centres on the influential nature of Artemis both in the Greek world and in Ephesus. Her PhD work, received at York University, provides evidence which suggests that Artemis is the most prevalent and influential goddess of the Mediterranean. As one of the leading experts in the worship and ritual of Artemis Ephesia, Dr. Ionescu spends most of her time teaching in the field of Ancient History and Humanities, and/or applying for grants to support her research travels.

2022-2023 Season

Marc Herman is an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities at York University. His research focuses on Jewish and Islamic intellectual history in the medieval Mediterranean and the history of Judeo-Arabic law. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he has held postdoctoral fellowships at Columbia University, Fordham University, Harvard University, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale Law School. His writings have appeared in the Association for Jewish Studies Review, Jewish History, the Jewish Quarterly Review, and the Journal of the American Oriental Society, among other venues. He is the coeditor of Accounting for the Commandments in Medieval Judaism: Studies in Law, Philosophy, Pietism, and Kabbalah (Brill, 2021) and is currently writing a monograph titled After Revelation: The Rabbinic Past in the Islamic World, under review at the University of Pennsylvania press.

Professor Tony Burke received his PhD from the University of Toronto. The focus of his research and teaching is apocryphal Christian literature: non-biblical texts that feature tales and teachings of Jesus, his family, and his immediate followers. One of his publishing projects is a multi-volume series of translations of new and lesser-known texts called New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures. He also teaches two courses in the program on apocrypha: New Testament Apocrypha and Gnosticism, along with “regular” Bible courses (the History of the Bible, the Bible and Modern Contexts, and the Origins of Christianity), and a senior undergraduate course on Curses and Curse Stories.

Gurbir Jolly is an assistant professor in the Children, Childhood, and Youth program within the Department of Humanities. He began teaching at York University in 1995 while working on his M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and continued into his Ph.D. in Humanities, which combined his twin interests in Children’s Studies and Religious Studies. His doctoral dissertation: The Post-Colonial Christ Paradox: Literary Transfigurations of a Trickster God (2019) is described by Dr. Jolly as “a post-colonial, literary Christology that critically recasts classical Christological paradoxes, relying on paradoxes long-associated with regional, post-colonial trickster figures.” In other work, Gurbir has co-edited an anthology of coming-of-age reflections, Bolo! Bolo! Second-Generation South Asian Voices (Kitchen Table Collective, 2000), a collection of erotica, Desilicious: Sexy. Subversive. South Asian (Arsenal Pulp, 2003), and served as lead editor for a compilation of interdisciplinary essays on Hindi cinema’s globalization, Upon a Time in Bollywood: The Global Swing in Indian Cinema (TSAR, 2007).

2019-2020 Season

Eric Bronson received his doctorate in Philosophy at the State University of New York in Buffalo in 1998. He taught full-time for nine years at Berkeley College in New York City before coming to York University in 2006, where he teaches in the departments of Philosophy and Humanities. For the Religious Studies Program, Bronson teaches Gods and Humans (HUMA 1165). His current project is a textbook entitled Enchanted Wisdom: Popular Ideas of World Religions. This lecture was recorded 7 October 2019.

Alicia Turner received her MA and PhD at the University of Chicago in History of Religions. She came to York University in 2009. Among her achievements are the York University Research Leader award, which she won in 2018, and the book Saving Buddhism: Moral Community and the Impermanence of Colonial Religion. Her talk here is based on an op-ed written with Dan Arnold published in the New York Times in 2018. Many of the Religious Studies students meet Professor Turner in the first-year Buddhism and Asian Cultures course (HUMA 1855) and likely all of our current majors and minors will have encountered her in the Theories in the Study of Religion required course (HUMA 3804), which she has taught for the past four of five years. She also teaches several senior level courses, including Buddhism as Seen from the West (HUMA 4771) and Buddhism in Modern Southeast Asia (HUMA 4770). This lecture was recorded 11 November 2019.

Phil Harland did his undergrad in History at University of Waterloo, and both his MA and PhD at the University of Toronto's Centre for the Study of Religion. The focus of his research and teaching is on social and cultural history, including ancient Judeans (Jews) and Jesus adherents. He does exciting work with some of the leading scholars in Canada and is known internationally for his contributions. Prof. Harland teaches a number of courses on the early Christian world—including Origins of Christianity (HUMA 3421/3422; 2800), Greek and Roman Religion (HUMA 3105), A Cultural History of Satan (HUMA 3795), Visions of the End: Early Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism (HUMA 4819) and Diversity in Early Christianity (HUMA 4825)—as well as graduate level courses in the Department of History.