In 1938, the Rockwell Fund, a Houston philanthropic organization, established an endowment in the department to administer and sponsor public lectures on topics in religious studies. Originally named the Rockwell Lecture Series, it began as an annual series of three lectures delivered by a distinguished scholar and published in individual volumes. Today, the fund sponsors occasional lectures and an annual international conference organized by individual faculty members. The proceedings continue to be published in prominent academic series.

2021 Rockwell Lectures

Rockwell Lecture Series on Black Lives Matter

The Dukkha of Racism: Racial Justice Work in American Convert Buddhism (February 10, 2021)
Ann Gleig, University of Central Florida

'Make America Great Again': Racial Pathology, White Consolidation, and Melancholia in Trump's America. (February 22, 2021)
Stephen Finley, Louisiana State University

Now It is Always Now; Blackness, Time, and State-Sanctioned Violence (February 22, 2021)
Biko Gray, Syracuse University

The Devil's Work: Race, Witchcraft, and the Demonization of the Black Lives Matter Movement (February 22, 2021)
Margarita Guillory, Boston University

Confronting Structural Racism as Human Suffering (February 25, 2021)
Rhonda V. Magee, University of San Francisco School of Law

The ‘grammar of similarity’ in ‘All nations’ Christianity in East Africa (March 11, 2021)
Emma Wild-Wood, University of Edinburgh

Foucault's Confessions

Fascinating Flesh: Revealing the Spiritual Foucault (May 4, 2021)
James Bernauer, Boston College

A Conversation (May 6, 2021)
Peter Bown, Princeton University

The Birth of Confessions of the Flesh (May 11, 2021)
Philippe Chevallier, Bibliothèque nationale de France

Lust in Paradise : On the Origin of Sexualized Selves (May 13, 2021)
Mark Jordan, Harvard University’s Divinity School

Foucault's Queer Virgins (May 18, 2021)
Lynne Huffer, Emory University

Foucault’s Christianities (May 19, 2021)
Niki Kasumi Clements, Rice University

Contextualizing Foucault's Augustine (May 20, 2021)
Elizabeth Clark, Duke University

Rebellious Flesh: Virgins, Consecrated Women, and the Radicality of Conversion (May 25, 2021)
Arianna Sforzini, University of Fribourg

Foucault's Genealogy of Modern Knowledge About Sexuality: From São Paulo to Confessions of the Flesh (May 27, 2021)
Daniele Lorenzini, University of Warwick

‘If the Truth is Turned Against the Colonized’: Exhaustive Verbalisation and the Impossibility of Truth-Telling (June 1, 2021)
Martina Tazzioli, Goldsmiths London

A Conversation (June 3, 2021)
Achille Mbembe, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

2020 Rockwell Lectures

Stable Surfaces of Unstable Scriptures: Art and Artifact at the Museum of the Bible (March 26, 2020)
Jill Hicks-Keeton, University of Oklahoma

Wonders Out of the Blue: Uncanny Technologies and the Limits of Secular Social Science (March 26, 2020)
Hussein Ali Agrama, University of Chicago

Rockwell Lecture Series on Black Lives Matter

The Politics of the Future World: Reflections on Racism in the Planetary Age (September 10, 2020)
Achille Mbembe, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Fighting Against Racism for Democracy (October 1, 2020)
Lewis R. Gordon, U-CONN-Storrs

At E.A.S.E.: Representation and the Limits of Social Justice (October 6, 2020)
Kirsten Buick, University of New Mexico

What’s Religion Got to Do with It? Seeing, Reading, Teaching Race in the European Middle Ages (October 16, 2020)
Geraldine Heng, University of Texas

Confronting Race in Popular Culture (October 22, 2020)
Adilifu Nama, Loyola Marymount University

...Stayed on Freedom; Our Black Experience in the U.S. (November 5, 2020)
Jan Willis, Wesleyan University

2019 Rockwell Lectures

Total Recall: The ‘Panoramic Life Review’ near death as seen in Western Esotericism of the 19th Century (April 11, 2019)
Jens Schlieter, University of Bern

West African Manuscripts in the Modern African World (September 16, 2019)
Amidu Olalekan Sanni, Fountain University, Osogbo, Nigeria

Research as Creative Process (November 8, 2019)
Jessica Wilbanks, University of Houston

Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (November 14, 2019)
Leslie Kean, Independent Investigative Journalist and Author

2018 Rockwell Lectures

"Lifting the Ban: Studying lived experience through micro-phenomenology" (March 22, 2018)
Clair Petitmengin, Mines-Telecom Institute, and Archives Husserl

"An Approach to lived experience, in first-person and second-person" (March 22, 2018)
Michel Bitbol, CNRS

Conference: Eros, Sexuality and Embodiment in Esoteric Traditions (May 24-27, 2018)

"Sacred sexuality in contemporary esoteric groups: from early 20th-century origins to Misa"
Massimo Introvigne, Center for Studies on New Religions

Conference: Conceptions of the Present in Jewish Antiquity (October 21-22, 2018)

"The Present in the Light of Past and Future in the Book of Qohelet and 1 Enoch"
Mette Bundvad, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

"The Levitical Jubilee and the Utopian Present"
Jonathan Kaplan, University of Texas at Austin

"Trouble with Time-Reckoning: Making Sense of 4Q317 and Related Texts"
Katie Maguire, University of Toronto, Canada

"Aseity, Contingency, and Temporality in the Incarnation: Framing Some New Testament Texts within Second Temple Judaism"
Grant Macaskill, University of Aberdeen, U.K.

"Blessing in the Latter Days: The End of Life as a Potent Time-Space"
Judith Newman, University of Toronto, Canada

Conference: Kabbalah in America (October 28-30, 2018)

"Religious Fluidity, Connecting with Ancestral Heritage and Kabbalah: Allen Ginsberg and Gershom Scholem's Teachings"
Yaakov Ariel, University of North Carolina

"The Oversoul and its Kabbalistic Overtones: Schelling, Emerson and the Pre-Freudian Unconscious in America"
Clemence Boulouque, Columbia University

"Hyman Bloom's Mystical Brides"
Marcia Brennan, Rice University

"Aryeh Kaplan's Quest for the Lost Jewish Traditions of Science, Psychology and Prophecy"
Alan Brill, Seton Hall University

"Seth Pancoast and Kabbalah"
Julie Chajes, Tel Aviv University

"Shlomo Carlebach and the Counterculture"
Paul Bradlaw Giller, American Jewish University

""They have with faithfulness and care transmitted the Oracles of God unto us Gentiles": Jewish scholarship in the Puritan imagination"
Michael Hoberman, Fitchburg State University

"American Conservative Judaism and Kabbalah"
Danny Horwitz, Beth Yeshurun (Houston)

"The Qabbalah of the Hebrews and the Ancient Wisdom Religion of Asia: Isaac Myer and the Kabbalah in America"
Boaz Huss, Ben-Gurion University

"Solomon Schechter, Abraham Y. Heschel, Alexander Altmann"
Moshe Idel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"American Reform Judaism's Increasing Acceptance of Kabbalah: The Contributions of Rabbi Herbert Weiner's 9 1/2 Mystics"
Dana Evan Kaplan, Springhill Avenue Temple

"Changed in a Flash: Kabbalistic Motifs in a Modern Jewish Near-Death Experience"
Jeff Kripal, Rice University

"The Masonic Career of a Kabbalistic Lithograph-- Max Wolff, The Origin of the Rites and Worship of the Hebrews, New York, 1859"
Peter Lanchidi, Ben-Gurion University

"The Traveling Kabbalah. The 'Lost' Carigal Manuscript in Early America"
Laura Leibman, Reed College

"A Book Bound on Both Ends: The Inverted Sabbateanism and Jewish Monasticism of Dovid Din"
Shaul Magid, Indiana University/Visiting Dartmouth

"Identity or Spirituality: What is behind Buberian Neo Hasidism and Ashlagian Kabbalah in America?"
Ron Margolin, Tel Aviv University

"Liberty for All: American Neo-Hasidism and Halakhah"
Ariel Mayse, Stanford University

"The Many Faces of Sefer Yetzirah in the Past and in America"
Ronit Meroz, Tel Aviv University

"Kabbalah as a Tool of Orthodox Outreach"
​​​​​​​Jody Myers, Cal State Northridge

"Zoharic Reception and Trinitarian Thought in Early America"
​​​​​​​Brian Ogren, Rice University

"Kabbalah in the Ozarks: Thomas Moore Johnson, The Platonist, and the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor"
Vadim Putzu, Missouri State University

"A Jewish Kabbalistic text from 19th century America: Isidor Kalisch's Sefer Yetzirah"
​​​​​​​Jonathan Sarna, Brandeis University

"Kabbalah and Sex Magic in Contemporary Self-Help"
​​​​​​​Marla Segol, University at Buffalo

"Pragmatic Kabbalah: Mordecai Kaplan, Joseph L. Sossnitz and the Mystical Origins of Jewish Peoplehood"
​​​​​​​Eli Stern, Yale University

2017 Rockwell Lectures

"Nigeria in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities" (October 3, 2017)
Tanko Abdullahi Umaru, Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria)

"Borges and God"
Nicolas Shumway, Rice University

2016 Rockwell Lectures

Conference: Being Spiritual But Not Religious: Past, Present, Future(s) (March 18-20, 2016)

"Mapping the Spiritual but not Religious Movement"
William B. Parsons, Rice University

"Minds of Their Own: Psychological Substrates of the SBNR Sensibility"
Robert Fuller, Bradley University

"Spirituality and Science"
Elaine Howard Ecklund, Rice University

"Consuming Spirituality: SBNR and Neoliberal Logic"
Melissa M. Wilcox, Whitman College

"Spirituality, the Bestseller: From Protestantism to "Spiritual But Not Religious" via Harper and Row"
Stephen Prothero, Boston University

""Is God Dead?" Christian Atheism and the Rise of the SBNR Sensibility"
Leigh E. Schmidt, Washington University in St. Louis

"Plurals, Hybrids and Nomads: Spirituality and Religious Practice at the Intersections"
Joy R. Bostic, Case Western Reserve

"Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious"
Linda Mercadante, Methodist Theological School

"Toward a Metamodern Reading of Spiritual but Not Religious Mysticisms"
Linda Ceriello, Rice University

""Comparison Gets You Nowhere": Comparative Religion and the Great Disembedding"
Jeff Kripal, Rice University

"'Mysticism' and 'Spirituality' in Iran: the case of InterUniversal Mysticism and Mostafa Malekiyan"
​​​​​​​Ata Anzali, Middlebury College

​​​​​​​"Being a Superman Who Can't be F*$#d With: Bikram Choudhury, the Yoga Industry, and Neoliberal Religion"
Andrea R. Jain, Indiana University

"Buddhist Fulfillment of a Protestant Dream: Mindfulness as Scientific Spirituality"
Matt Hedstrom, University of Virginia

"Transpersonal psychology and the SBNRM: Beyond spiritual narcissism in a post-secular age"
Jorge N. Ferrer, California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)

"SBNR Americans and their Enchanted Sciences of the Spirit"
Christopher G. White, Vassar College

"Ethical and Spiritual, But Not Religious: How "Nones" Are the Future, With a Long History"
Chad Pevateaux, Texas Wesleyan University

"Rogue Mystics: The Ecology of Cosmic Consciousness"
Jason Kelly, Queens University

"Jung and the Yearning for Foundations in Contemporary Spiritualities"
Sean Fitzpatrick, Houston Jung Center

2015 Rockwell Lectures

Conference: Religious Pluralism in Africa and The African Diaspora (March 18, 2015)

"The Shepherd of Hermas and the Jerusalem Church"
Franklin Trammell, Rice University

Conference: Gnostic Countercultures (March 26-28, 2015)

"The Gnostic World of Vladimir Sorokin's "Ice" Trilogy"
Victoria Nelson (keynote), Goddard College

2014 Rockwell Lectures

"The Mystical Mind"
Andrew Newberg, Marcus Institute of Integrative Health

"The Anthropology of Nag Hammadi in Context"
Lautaro Roig Lanzillota, University of Gronigen

2013 Rockwell Lectures

Conference: Eternity, Epoch and Soul: Jewish Mystical Notions of Time (November)

"Retroactive Note Yet: Linear Circularity and Kabbalistic Temporality"
Elliot Wolfson

"Gnostic Ritual and the Wheel of Time"
April DeConick

"Ritualization of the Messianic Time in Early Jewish Mysticism: The Apocalypse of Abraham as a Test Case"
Andrei Orlov

"Jewish Neoplatonic Discourses of Time: Beginnings, Emanations, and Paradoxes of Simultanaeity"
Sarah Pessin

"The perception of time in the mystical experience of Devequt and mystical Union"
Adam Afterman

"Chaotic Beginnings: Italian Renaissance Nations of the Time of Creation"
Brian Ogren

"Italian Renaissance Kabbalistic Ideas of Historical Time"
Fabrizio Lelli

"Jacob Sasportas and Sabbatean Time"
Yaacob Dweck

"Ha-Matir Issurim: The Halakhic Shift in Messianic Time"
Matt Goldish

"Soul Time in Modern Kabbalah"
Jonathan Garb

"The Jachin-Boaz Teleport: Gateway to the 'Jewish' Secrets of Freemasonry?"
Benjamin Brochstein

"The Zaddik before Time: The Preexistence of Zaddik in Dov Baer of Mezritch"
Shaul Magid

"Time, Messiasism, and Reason in Mitnagdic Thought"
Eliyahu Stern

"Time and Eternity in Freud's Theory of Mysticism"
Moshe Idel

"The Way of Pleasure and the Way of Doubt: Hasidic Inner Work"
Jonathan Garb

Conference: Holy Monsters, Sacred Grotesques (October)

John Block Friedman

Asa Simon Mittman

Jeffrey A. Weinstock

Conference: Black Theology & Leadership

"I Have a Dream! Martin Luther King's Reception as Theologian & Civil Rights Leader in Germany"
Michael Haspel, Protestant Academy of Thuringa

"To Make a Difference: Leadership in the Time of Globalization"
Ahmed Samatar, Macalester College

"Black Blood Crying Out and the Birth of Black Theology"
James Cone, Union Theological Seminary

2018 Rockwell Lecture

Blessing in the Latter Days: The End of Life as a Potent Time-Space