Loy H. Witherspoon Lecture Series

The faculty of the Department of Religious Studies established the Witherspoon Lectures in 1984 to honor their colleague Loy H. Witherspoon, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religious Studies, for his twenty years of distinguished service at UNC Charlotte. It is the oldest and most prestigious endowed lecture series at UNC Charlotte. Dr. Witherspoon had continued to teach each semester as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Religious Studies. Hundreds of his friends and colleagues contributed to the fund that made this the first named, endowed lecture series at UNC Charlotte. Lectures have been published each year through a gift from Dr. William Pfischner.  Read past Loy H. Witherspoon lectures online through the J. Murray Atkins University History Witherspoon Lecture Series Collection. (link opens in new browser). The Atkins Oral History Collections include Ten interviews with Loy Witherspoon. (Link opens in a new browser).


2021-2022 Judith Weisenfeld, Princeton University "Spiritual Madness: American Psychiatry, Race and Black Religions"
2019-2020 Mark Jordan, Harvard University Divinity School "The Very Idea of Queer Religion"
2018-2019 Tanya Marie Luhrmann, Stanford University "Shamans and Schizophrenia: How Religious Practice May Change Psychotic Experience"
2017-2018 John Stratton Hawley, Columbia University "Paradise Lost? Krishna's Forest Playground Confronts the 21st Century"
2016-2017 David Nirenberg, University of Chicago "Neighboring Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam"
2015-2016 Jeffrey Kripal, Rice University "Biological Gods: Science (Fiction) and Some Emergent Mythologies"
2014-2015 Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Indiana University at Bloomington "The Impossibility of Religious Freedom"
2013-2014 Robert A. Orsi, Northwestern University "Secrets of the Confessional: Children, the Sacrament of Penance, and the Making of 20th Century U.S. Catholicism"
2012-2013 April DeConick, Rice University "The Ancient New Age: How Gnostic Spirituality Revolutionized Religion in Antiquity"
2011-2012 Frans B. M. de Waal, Emory University "Morality Without Religion: Empathy, Fairness, and Prosocial Primates"
2010-2011 Michael E. Stone, Hebrew University "Secret Books and Secret Traditions of Ancient Judaism"
2009-2010 Elizabeth A. Clark, Duke University "What's the Matter with Marriage? Some Early Christian Answers"
2008-2009 Jonathan Z. Smith, University of Chicago "Things Said/Things Done: The Relations of Myth and Ritual"
2007-2008 Shimon Gibson, W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research "Jesus in Jerusalem: New Archaeological Discoveries"
2006-2007 Brian Blount, Union Theological Seminary "No Free Pass: An Apocalyptic Call for Prophetic Witness in the Book of Revelation"
2005-2006 Bart Ehrman, UNC Chapel Hill "Misquoting Jesus: Do We Have the Original New Testament?"
2004-2005 Jack Sasson, Vanderbilt University "Wooing Rebekah: How Isaac Got a Wife"
2003-2004 Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University Divinity School "Christians and the So-called State (We Are In) A Meditation on Loyalty after September 11, 2001"
2002-2003 Barbara Newman, Northwestern University "What Does it Mean to Say I Saw?: On the Varieties of Visionary Experiences"
2001-2002 John Williams, College of William and Mary "Can the State be Virtuous? Muslim Political Philosophy, Old and New"
2000-2001 Max Oelschlaeger, Northern Arizona University "Caring for Creation: Religious Faith and the Challenge of Building a Sustainable World"
1999-2000 Donald S. Lopez, University of Michigan "Searching for Shangri-La"
1998-1999 Francis E. Peters, New York University "Jerusalem: The Contested Inheritance"
1997-1998 James H. Charlesworth, Princeton Theological Seminary "Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls: What Do We Know After Fifty Years?"
1996-1997 Katie G. Cannon, Temple University "Translating Womanism into Pedagogical Praxis"
1995-1996 Vine Deloria Jr, University of Colorado at Boulder "Re-Viewing Religious Knowledge"
1994-1995 Thomas Keneally, University of California at Irvine "Schindler's List"
1993-1994 Elaine Pagels, Princeton University "Satan in the New Testament Gospels"
1992-1993 James H. Cone, Union Theological Seminary, New York City "Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare"
1991-1992 Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary "Ecofeminism and Christian Theology: Symbolic and Social Connections between the Domination of Women and of Nature" by Rosemary Radford Ruether
1990-1991 Harvey G. Cox, Harvard University "Religiopolis: Beyond the Secular City"
1989-1990 Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago "Sexual Masquerades in the Hebrew Bible: Rachel and Tamar"
1988-1989 William H. Poteat, Duke University "The Banality of Evil: The Darkness at the Center"
1987-1988 Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago "In the Combat Zone Over American Values: The Vision of One America Versus the Vision of Many Americas"
1986-1987 Michael J. Cook, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion "Evolving Jewish Views of Jesus"
1985-1986 David L. Miller, Syracuse University "The Question of the Book: Religion as Texture"
1984-1985 Seyyed Hossein Nasr, George Washington University "Religion and Religions: The Problem of Living in a Multireligious World"