Distinguished Speakers Series

"Culinary Rage: Feast, Famine, and Gender Subjectivity"


Professor Bonnie Shishko

Queens University, Charlotte on Culinary Queerness: Gender, (A) Sexuality, & Trauma in the Contemporary Food Novel

Date: Friday, May 20th, 2022

Time: 4:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Place: Bond Hall 105
Price: Free

What stories can food tell about us? About our histories, our wounds, our allegiances?


Poet Jane Wong

reading from How Not to be Afraid of Everything

"Spiritual Madness: Race, Psychiatry, and Black Religion" Lecture


Professor Judith Weisenfeld

Agate Brown and George L Collord Professor
Chair, Department of Religion, Princeton University

Judith Weisenfeld is a faculty member at Princeton since 2007 in the Department of Religion.

Her current research examines the intersections of psychiatry, race, and African American religion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is also the Co-Director of The Crossroads Project: Black Religious Histories, Cultures, and Communities(opens in new tab)open_in_new, which is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Click here to learn more about Judith.

2022 Distinguished Guest Speaker:
Professor Judith Weisenfeld

Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Time: 4:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Zoom Registration: Link to Registration below
Price: Free

"Spiritual Madness: Race, Psychiatry, and Black Religion"  

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, white American psychiatrists declared that mental illness among African Americans in the South had reached alarming proportions and argued that, in a notable percentage of these cases, “religious excitement” was the key precipitating factor.

This talk explores late nineteenth and early twentieth-century psychiatric theories about race, religion, and the “normal mind” and shows how the emerging specialty of psychiatry drew on works from history of religions to make racialized claims about African Americans’ “traits of character, habit, and behavior.”

This history of the intersections of psychiatry and African American religions sheds light on how ideas about race, religion, and mental normalcy shaped African American experience in courts and mental hospitals and on the role the racialization of religion played more broadly in the history of medicine, legal history, and the history of disability.

Yoga Sutra Lecture Series

2022 Guest Speaker:
 Dr. K.S. Balasubramanian

Date: Thursdays - April 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th

Time: 7:00p.m.-8:00p.m.
Price: Free


Dr. K.S. Balasubramanian

Award-winning international scholar, author, and professor.

Deputy Director of the Kuppuswamy Sastri Research Institute in Chennai, India.

Yoga Sutra

Please join us in this lecture series on the Yoga Sutra with award-winning international scholar, author, and professor Dr. K. S. Balasubramanian. The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is a series of Sanskrit aphorisms designed as a step-by-step guide to self-knowledge. Patanjali’s work marks the beginning of classical yoga, unifying various pre-classical practices and schools of thought into one brilliantly coherent system. His eight-part system is studied and practiced all over the world today. Hatha yoga as we know it today is indebted to its legacy. Patanjali made a standardized and comprehensive yoga system which attends to all the aspects of theory and practice.

Questions and Accommodations

Maureen Christman is the coordinator for the Distinguished Speaker Series.

Feel free to email GHR@wwu.edu if you have any questions or comments.

Previous Distinguished Speakers


Professor Eric Swanson - June 2021

Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University 

Conquering Evil and Peace of Mind: Negotiating Salvation in Esoteric Buddhism in Meiji Japan

Professor Don Baker - April 2019

Professor of Korean History, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia

The Two Koreas A Historian’s Perspective on What the Future Holds

Professor Philip Lutgendorf - April 2018

Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies and has taught in the University of Iowa’s Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature

Chai Why? The Making of the Indian "National Drink"


Professor Kathryn Lofton - April 2017

Professor of Religious Studies, American Studies, and History; Chair, Religious Studies; Deputy Dean for Diversity and Faculty Development, Yale University 

“Popular Religion in American Democracy”

Professor Fiona Somerset - April 2016 

Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Connecticut

"Exacting Consent: Silent Consent and Public Voice from Chaucer to the Twenty-first Century"

Professor Robert Goldman - February 2015

Professor of Sanskrit in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley

"A Tale of Three Cities: Valmiki's Ramayana and the Foundations of the Culture, Society and Religion in Early India"

Professor Jessica Main - March 2014

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chair in Buddhism and Contemporary Society, Institute of Asian Research and Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia

"Buddhism and Human Rights: From 19th Century Reformers to Contemporary Advocates"

Professor Nile Green - April 2013

Professor of South Asian & Islamic History and Director for the Program on Central Asia, University of California, Los Angeles

"The Muslim Discovery of Printing: A Moment in Global History"

Professor Christian Novetzke - March 2012

Associate Professor of South Asia Studies and Comparative Religion, University of Washington

"Stretching Religion: Yoga in Philosophy, Temple Architecture, and Gandhi's India"

Professor Karin Bauer - Spring 2011

Professor of German Studies, McGill University

"Representations of Terrorism and Mass-Media"

Professor Timothy Brook - February 2010

Republic of China Chair, Department of History and Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia

"Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century: A China Connection?"

Professor David Nirenberg - February 2009

Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Social Thought, Medieval History, Middle East Studies, and the College; Dean of the Social Sciences Division, University of Chicago

"Sibling Rivalries: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam"