Faculty Partners

John B. Boles in William P. Hobby Professor of History and editor of the Journal of Southern History. The author/editor of numerous volumes including The Irony of Southern Religion (1994) and Masters and Slaves in the House of the Lord: Race and Religion in the American South, 1740-1870, Boles primary interests are in the history of the U.S. South and American religion. An internationally recognized scholar of southern religion and southern history, Boles has trained numerous students and mentored countless others.

Elias Bongmba combines his teaching of African religions and his research in theology and philosophy of religion working with African philosophical ideas and Continental philosophy. His first book explored intersubjective relations by probing the ethics of witchcraft using the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. He has published other articles on ethical dimension of witchcraft in the context of the Christian church in Africa. His second book, On the Dialectic of Transformation in Africa, discusses the political aspects of intersubjective relations through an analysis grounded in the human sciences. Bongmba has also addressed current debates on the African Renaissance. His next book, Facing a Pandemic: The African Church and HIV/AIDS Crisis, is an interdisciplinary work in which he addresses the HIV/AIDS crisis and argues that the motif, the image of God (imago dei), challenges religious communities in Africa to scale up the fight against HIV/AIDS at the local and national level through an ethic of love and compassion. He calls on religious communities to work with the global community to accelerate universal access to health care and promote the search for a vaccine.

Alexander X. Byrd is Associate Professor of History and co-founder of the Americas Colloquium. He has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Professor Byrd’s area of expertise is African American history. He is especially interested in black life in the Atlantic World in the eighteenth century and African American history in the Jim Crow South. He is writing a history of free and forced transatlantic black migration in the period of the American Revolution, a book tentatively entitled Captives & Voyagers: Black Migrants Across the Eighteenth-Century World of Olaudah Equiano. He is also completing several article-length projects, one addressing current debates over the nativity of Olaudah Equiano and another on violence and African identity formation in the slave trade from western Africa. Professor Byrd’s oral history of Magdalene Dulin is published in Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South. He has also authored a student-centered, question-based lesson plan for high school and college teachers on “Studying Lynching in the Jim Crow South” (published in the Organization of American Historian’s Magazine of History).

Caroline F. Levander is the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives, Carlson Professor in the Humanities, and Professor of English at Rice University. She is co-founder of the Americas Colloquium at Rice University and has developed the Rice Americas Archive. In collaboration with University of Maryland’s Early Americas Digital Archive, the Americas Archive has generated the Our Americas Archive Partnership. Her research begins with the acknowledgment that literary production, social theory and political cultures were integrally blended in the pre-20thc US. Her research therefore considers the dual questions of American literature’s political impact and American political culture’s literary effects. Most broadly, her work explores the combined cultural impact of political, social and literary discourses on historically disenfranchised groups including women, children and racial others. Voices of the Nation: Women and Public Speech in Nineteenth-Century American Culture and Literature (Cambridge UP 1998), for example, focuses on women and public life, while Cradle of Liberty: Race, the Child and National Belonging from Thomas Jefferson to W.E.B. Du Bois (Duke UP, 2006), explores the child’s obscured links to the racial politics governing U.S. national culture. In order to bring literary and political texts into the most richly productive play, she focuses on diverse archival sources as well as a wide range of literary sources to show how political representation in the US emerges and continues to be shaped by the ‘fact’ of gender and racial identity.

Anthony B. Pinn received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1994.  Other degrees include the BA from Columbia University, and the MDiv and MA, both from Harvard. Pinn began his teaching career at Macalester College (St. Paul, MN), where his research and teaching earned him early tenure and promotion to full professor within the first eight years of his career.  In 2003, Pinn accepted an offer from Rice University (Houston, TX), becoming the first African American to hold an endowed chair at the University.  After an additional semester at Macalester and a semester at Williams College as the Sterling Brown 1922 Visiting Professor, Pinn joined the Rice faculty as the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University.  While at Rice, Pinn founded and directed the Houston Enriches Rice Education (HERE) project (2007-2012).  During the summer of 2012, Pinn received approval to transform the HERE Project into the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning.  This center is a part of the Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research.  Pinn also founded and directs the doctoral concentration in the study of African American Religion at Rice. Outside Rice, Pinn has served as the first executive director of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and he also served on the Meadville Lombard Theological School Board of Trustees (2007-2012).  In addition, he has served in various roles on the board of directors and the executive committee of the American Academy of Religion.  He is also the Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies Think Tank (Washington, DC).

© 2021 by Anthony Pinn