Dr. Amy DeRogatis, professor of religion and American culture at Michigan State University, presents "Seeing Is Believing: The Curious Case of the Contested Image of Elvira Eliza Field."

WMU University Center for the Humanities | February 22, 2018 | 4:30 p.m.

In this talk prof. DeRogatis will discuss the daguerreotype of Elvira Eliza Field, first plural wife of the Mormon prophet James Jesse Strange, who cross-dressed as Charles J. Douglass for six months. Elvira Field was a young Mormon girl from Michigan who secretly married Strange on July 13, 1849, and traveled with him later that year on a church mission to the east coast. Dressed as his nephew, Charley Douglass, she served as his personal secretary during the mission. No one denies that Field dressed as Douglass, but recently at least one scholar has questioned if this image is legitimate. In this lecture, the image serves as an entryway into the fascinating religious movement that culminated in the crowning of a Mormon king—the proclaimed true successor of prophet Joseph Smith—on Beaver Island in the middle of Lake Michigan. Strange’s story is rich with golden plates, angel visitations, visions, secret rituals, new scripture, political intrigue, and scrappy fights with Brigham Young. The presentation will address the artifact, the interpretation of it, and the role that both image and interpreter play in the stories we tell about religion and American culture.

Congratulations to Danielle and all our graduates!

Danielle ShermanCongratulations to alumna Danielle Sherman (B.A. ’17, Comparative Religion and English) on graduating! Danielle explored the world through WMU and studied abroad in China in 2017. #GloballyEngagedBroncos

The 2019 Japanese Religion and Culture Study Abroad Seminar

Note: The 2018 Japan trip has been changed to summer 2019

The 2019 Japanese Religion and Culture Study Abroad Seminar is on again! See the attached flyer for more info or contact Dr. Covell if you want to go or know someone who might be interested. We take students from other schools who want a unique experience in Japan. If you have friends or family studying elsewhere, bring them with you! This year we split the program into two halves to make more affordable options. The first half is the original two-week three-credit hour course that centers around the home base Zojoji in downtown Tokyo. The second part includes Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima. Click on the first slide in the slideshow above for more information.

Muslim superheroes

Our resident expert on religion and comic books, Dr. Kevin Wanner, has a chapter in this fascinating new book, "Muslim Superheroes", on comics and Islam. Check it out!

4 + 1 Program with Kalamazoo College

The Department of Comparative Religion is pleased to announce the creation of a 4+1 graduate program with the Department of Religion at Kalamazoo College. Under the program students majoring in religion at Kalamazoo College will be able to transfer up to 12 credit hours of work towards their master's degree in comparative religion. The first students to take advantage of the program will begin their graduate studies at WMU in 2018. For questions, please contact the graduate advisor Dr. Brian Wilson.

Study religion at WMU

Do you want to know more about religion, the role and significance of religion in societies and the ways in which academics think about and analyze religion? Areas of study in Western Michigan University's Department of Comparative Religion provide knowledge and skills relevant to many careers and professions.

Graduate Student Handbook

Be in the know! See the graduate handbook for information regarding the graduate program.

There are few things more important to study today than religion

Don't take our word for it, just listen to the US Secretary of State John Kerry: "I often say that if I headed back to college today, I would major in comparative religions rather than political science." This is a great read.

Scholarships available

Take advantage of these great opportunities for funding.