- When: October 3, 2018 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
100 Washington Square East, Jurow Lecture Hall, Room 101
- Summary: SPIRITUAL MADNESS: Race, Psychiatry, and African American Religions
Lecture by JUDITH WEISENFELD
(Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion, Princeton University)
As the 19th century drew to a close, white American psychiatrists declared that mental illness among African Americans in the South had reached alarming proportions. They argued that, in a notable percentage of these cases, “religious excitement” was the key precipitating factor. This talk explores late 19th and early 20th psychiatric theories about race, religion, and the “normal mind.” It shows how the emerging specialty of psychiatry drew on works from the history of religions to make racialized claims about African Americans’ “traits of character, habit, and behavior.” This intersection between psychiatry and African American religions sheds light on how ideas about race, religion, and mental normalcy shaped African American experience in the courts and mental hospitals and the role of the racialization of religion in the history of medicine, legal history, and disability.
WEDNESDAY / OCTOBER 3 / 6–7:30 PM
Jurow Lecture Hall
30 Washington Place
The Lerner Workshop in Religion & Society
Presented by NYU RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Cosponsors: Center for Religion and Media at NYU &
Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences
Judith Weisenfeld joined the Princeton faculty in 2007. Her field is American religious history, with emphasis on 20th century African American religious history; religion, race, and gender; and religion in American film and popular culture. She is the author of New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration (NYU, 2017), Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929-1949 (California, 2007), and African American Women and Christian Activism: New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945 (Harvard, 1997). She is also a co-editor of the journal Religion and American Culture. Her current research examines the intersections of psychiatry, race, and African American religion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In addition to her appointment in Religion, she is affiliated with the Department of African American Studies and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She serves on the Executive Committees of the Program in American Studies and the Center for the Study of Religion. Professor Weisenfeld will be on leave the 2018-2019 academic year.