A faculty of accomplished scholars, deeply committed to fostering students’ intellectual and personal growth, offers expertise in the methods and approaches of a range of disciplines.

20140515 JLH Gretchen BuggeIn-004
Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christianity & the Arts
PhD American Studies – Yale University
Office – Mueller Hall Rm 132
219.464.5152 – gretchen.buggeln@valpo.edu

Buggeln c.v

Gretchen Buggeln holds the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christianity and the Arts. She writes and teaches about the intersection of Christian belief and the material world. Her primary research interest is American sacred spaces, and she recently authored The Suburban Church: Modernism and Community in Postwar America, a book about the ubiquitous, modern-style, suburban church of the postwar era (University of Minnesota Press, 2015). Her previous book, Temples of Grace: The Material Transformation of Connecticut’s Churches, 1790-1840 (2003) won national book awards from the Vernacular Architecture Forum and the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic.

Before coming to Valparaiso in 2004, Buggeln worked in the academic programs department of the H.F. du Pont Winterthur Museum in Delaware, and she continues to be active in the museum field by reviewing exhibitions and writing about how museums interpret religious artifacts and belief. She recently co-edited Religion in Museums: Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, with Crispin Paine and S. Brent Plate, a collection of essays about the interpretation of religious objects in museums (Bloomsbury, 2016). Buggeln serves on the board of the local Porter County Museum and enjoys teaching classes—such as “Museum History and Culture,” “The American Home,” and a freshman material culture writing workshop—that engage students with local museums, architecture, and artifact collections. She loves field trips!

Buggeln also coordinates the sophomore-level honors course “Word and Image” and teaches additional American studies upper-level seminars such as “American Consumer Culture.” She serves as director of the Valparaiso American Studies academic major and advisor to the Christ College student arts group.

From June 2015 to June 2017, Buggeln served as president of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, a professional organization dedicated to the appreciation and study of ordinary buildings and landscapes. This group of scholars and professionals models the concerns of Christ College: interdisciplinary thought and collaboration, and the application of humanities research and education to help individuals and communities flourish.

Prof. Buggeln holds a BA in history from Dartmouth College, an M.A. from the Winterthur Museum program at the University of Delaware, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.

VAF link: vernaculararchitectureforum.org

The Suburban Church link: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/the-suburban-church

Temples of Grace link: http://www.amazon.com/Temples-Grace-Transformation-Connecticuts-1790-1840/dp/B006QS97YA

Religion in Museums link: https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/religion-in-museums-9781474255516/

20140604 JLH Samuel Graber-008PhD American Studies – University of Iowa
Mueller Hall 124
219-465-7962 – samuel.graber@valpo.edu
Sam Graber’s teaching and research interests include nineteenth-century literature and culture, the American Civil War, transatlantic studies, memory studies, and religion. He has published articles and reviews in American Nineteenth Century History, the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, Christianity and Literature, Civil War Book Review, Common-Place, and the Journal of Southern History, as well as in the forthcoming Literary Cultures of the American Civil War. He teaches “Interpretation: Self, Culture, Society,” “Word & Image,” “American Identity,” “American War Literature,” “African American Literature,” “Literatures of Freedom,” “Film and Literature,” and also in the Christ College Freshman Program.

20151016 JLH Tal Howard-012Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics
PhD European History – University of Virginia
Linwood 102
219-464-5275 – tal.howard@valpo.edu


Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard (PhD, University of Virginia) is Professor of Humanities and History and holder of the Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University, where he is affiliated with Christ College, Valparaiso’s interdisciplinary honors college.  He also serves as  Senior Fellow for the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts.   He is the author or editor of several books, including The Pope and the Professor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age (Oxford, 2017), Remembering the Reformation: An Inquiry into the Meanings of Protestantism (Oxford 2016), and (edited with Mark A. Noll) Protestantism after 500 Years (Oxford UP, 2016).  His writings have appeared in peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of the History of Ideas and Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and in more general venues such as the Wall Street JournalHedgehog ReviewInside Higher Ed, Christian Century, First Things, and Commonweal.  Forthcoming works include The Faiths of Others: Modern History and the Rise of Interreligious Dialogue (Yale University Press), (editor), The Idea of Tradition in the Late Modern World: An Ecumenical and Interreligious Conversation (Wipf & Stock), and Modern Christian Theology: An Intellectual History (Princeton University Press).  He can be reached at tal.howard@valpo.edu.

20140515 JLH Slavica Jakelic-005

PhD Religious Studies – Boston University
Mueller Hall Room LL21
Jakelic CV

Slavica Jakelic is associate professor of humanities and social thought at Christ College, the honors college of Valparaiso University. Her scholarly interests and publications center on religion and collective identity, religious and secular humanisms, theories of religion and secularism, theories of modernity, nationalism and populism, interreligious dialogue, and conflict resolution. Before joining Christ College, Jakelić has worked at or been a fellow of a number of interdisciplinary institutes in Europe and the U.S.—the Erasmus Institute for the Culture of Democracy in Croatia, the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture at Boston University, the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna, Austria, the Erasmus Institute at the University of Notre Dame, the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, and the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School. She is a Senior Fellow of the national project “Religion&Its Publics,” placed at the University of Virginia, where she was a faculty member and co-director at the UVA’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture for several years. 

Jakelić is a co-editor of two volumes, The Future of the Study of Religion and Crossing Boundaries: From Syria to Slovakia, a co-editor of The Hedgehog Review’s issue “After Secularization,” and, most recently, the author of Collectivistic Religions: Religion, Choice, and Identity in Late Modernity. She is currently working on a book entitled Chastening Religious and Secular Humanisms: Identity, Solidarity, and the Practice of Pluralism.

20140813 JLH Mel Piehl-002

PhD History – Stanford University
Linwood House Room B7


Mel Piehl received his BA from Valparaiso University and his PhD from Stanford University. His scholarly interests center on American intellectual and religious history, with particular attention to American Catholic history and the relations between religion and social thought. Piehl’s book Breaking Bread: The Catholic Worker and the Origin of Catholic Radicalism in America was a finalist for the Robert Kennedy National Book Award; a new edition of the book was published in 2007. He is co-author of an American history text, The Brief American Pageant. His writings on American Catholicism have appeared in a number of books and journals. Piehl served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Dayton in 2001-2002. He has most recently published articles on religion and American intellectual life in the twentieth century. He served as the fourth dean of Christ College from 2003 to 2013. He was the Visiting Scholar in Catholic Studies at Seattle University in 2013-2014 before returning to teach at Christ College.

20140515 JLH Jennifer Prough-016 lovePhD Cultural Anthropology – Duke University
Mueller Hall Room 134
Prough CV 

Jennifer Prough received her BA from Valparaiso University and her PhD in cultural anthropology from Duke University. Her teaching and research interests include the anthropology of media, anthropology of tourism, Japanese studies, gender studies, and globalization. At the heart of Prough’s research and teaching interests are issues of representation and the ways that cultural meanings are produced and managed, experienced and interpreted through mass culture.  Her book entitled, “Straight from the Heart: Gender, intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shōjo Manga” (University of Hawai’i Press, 2011) examines the production of Girls’ comics in Japan through ethnographic analysis. Her current research project seeks to understand the ways that tradition, history, and culture are produced, packaged, promoted, and consumed in the Kyoto tourist industry. Through ethnographic analysis, in this manuscript Prough analyzes the ways that history and culture are deployed to create an atmosphere both ancient and modern, marketing Kyoto as a quintessential Japanese destination for both national and international tourists.

In addition to teaching in the Freshman Program and “Interpretations: Self, Culture, Society,” Prough teaches seminars on East Asian Media and Culture, Urban Japan, Japanese visual culture, tourism, and anthropology. Besides her work in Christ College, she teaches in the Chinese and Japanese Studies program.

Matt Puffer webPhD Religious Studies – University of Virginia
Mueller Hall Room 126
Puffer – CV

Matthew Puffer received a BS in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University, an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his PhD in Religious Studies (Theology, Ethics, and Culture) from the University of Virginia. Prior to joining the Christ College faculty he was a Catherine of Siena Fellow in the Ethics Program at Villanova University and a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. His research and teaching explore competing normative visions of the human person, especially rival versions of the imago dei and human dignity and their implications for issues in biomedical, economic, environmental, and war and peace ethics. He is currently working on a monograph that examines Augustine’s understanding of the imago dei as it develops across a half-century of letters, sermons, and treatises. Puffer co-edited Comparative Religious Ethics: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies and has published in Modern Theology, the International Journal of Systematic Theology, the Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and in edited volumes.

Mark Schwehn 038
PhD History and Humanities – Stanford University
Linwood House 117


Mark Schwehn received his BA from Valparaiso University, and his PhD in history and humanities from Stanford University. He has written widely about Henry Adams and William James, including, with other scholars, A William James Renaissance (1982). He has also written essays on the poetry of Robert Frost, film criticism, history, cognitive theory, and human sexuality. He has published widely on religion and higher learning, including Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America (1993) and Everyone A Teacher (2000). With Dorothy Bass he is editor of Leading Lives That Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be (2006). In 2005-2006 and again in 2014-2015 he was a Fellow at the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Studies at St. John’s University (MN). Schwehn is Founding Project Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts at Valparaiso, and serves on the boards of several major institutions addressing religion, education, and American public life. He served as provost from 2009-2014.

20140515 JLH Julien Smith-018 this onePhD Religion –

Baylor University
Mueller Hall 130

Smith CV

Office Hours

Julien Smith received his BA from the University of California at Berkeley in French and Slavic Languages and Literature, an MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a PhD in Religion from Baylor University. His scholarly interests center on Biblical texts and traditions. He has written and presented papers on a variety of New Testament and apocryphal subjects and texts, including Ephesians, Acts, Galatians, and IV Maccabees. Recent projects also include articles on church-related higher education, the interpretation of Scripture in the Epistle of Barnabas, and the portrayal of Jews in the writing of the Catholic novelist Walker Percy. His first book is entitled Christ the Ideal King: Cultural Context, Rhetorical Strategy, and the Power of Divine Monarchy in Ephesians, published by Mohr Siebeck in 2011. In addition to teaching in the CC Freshman Program, he teaches The Christian Tradition and seminars on Jesus and Paul. His next writing project focuses on the Apostle Paul’s royal Christology.


20140515 JLH Edward Upton-023PhD Religion and Literature – University of Chicago
Mueller Hall 122


Edward Upton received a BA in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University and his PhD in Religion and Literature from the University of Chicago, where he also taught in the Humanities Common Core and in the university’s writing program. His research centers on T.S. Eliot’s poetic engagement with sources from ancient India, especially in The Waste Land. His interests include modern poetry, hermeneutics, literary criticism, the history of orientalism, the history of religions, and modern theology. He has lectured on Eliot’s poetry at Oriel College, Oxford University. He teaches courses on “Theology and Literature”, “The Devil and the Problem of Evil,” “Western Mysticism and the Interpretation of India,” and “Religion and Contemporary Global Literature,” in addition to teaching in the CC Freshman Program.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities
Mueller Hall LL27
Chelsea Wagenaar received her BA from the University of Virginia, where she majored in the Area Program in Poetry Writing, and she completed her PhD in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of North Texas in 2016. From 2016-2018 she was a postdoctoral Lilly Fellow in Humanities at Valparaiso University, teaching courses through Christ College and the English Department. Her teaching and research interests include 20th and 21st century American poetry, memoir, the personal essay, and the contemporary novel. Her own work blends lyric and narrative approaches to poetry, with particular interest in adapting personae, incorporating devotional forms such as prayer, and the ode. 
Wagenaar is the author of two poetry collections. The first, entitled Mercy Spurs the Bone (2015), was selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine to win the 2013 Philip Levine Prize. The second collection is the 2018 winner of the Michael Waters Prize, entitled The Spinning Place, forthcoming fall 2019 from Southern Indiana Review Press. The poems in The Spinning Place explore what it means to be born or exiled in a variety of ways–physically, politically, erotically, linguistically, and religiously–while ultimately considering the ways in which joy and sorrow are inextricable.

20140515 JLH David Western-001PhD Political Science – Brown University
Mueller Hall 128


David Western received his BA in Political Science from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and his PhD in Political Science from Brown University. His work focuses on social and political theory, international relations, peace studies and conflict resolution especially addressing the role that empathy ought to play in making and maintaining peace in the world. Western previously taught at Grinnell College, where he was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies. At Brown University he was awarded the P. Terrence Hopmann Award for Teaching Excellence. Western is currently turning his dissertation – “Power, Justice, Empathy: How and Why Empathy Matters for Peace” – into a book manuscript. He teaches seminars on “King and Gandhi”, “Justice” and “Human Rights: Politics, Ethics, Law” as well as the CC Freshman Program and “Interpretation: Self, Culture and Society”.

Christ College Faculty Resource Page, click here.

Since 1991, Valparaiso University’s Christ College has been home to the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, a nationally prominent initiative that has played a major role in revitalizing Christian higher education in the United States. Each year three scholar-teachers with newly completed doctorates receive two-year appointments as faculty members in Christ College. As part of their preparation for potential careers at church-related colleges or universities in the United States, the Lilly Fellows teach courses in both Christ College and the College of Arts and Sciences at Valparaiso University.

Linwood House 113

Ashleigh Elser earned her BA in Philosophy and Intercultural Studies at Prairie College, and her MA in Religion and Literature from Yale Divinity School. She recently completed a PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Her dissertation, “Beyond Unity: Reading Hermeneutic Frictions in Biblical Literature,” takes up the conflicts between biblical narrators, examining how these conflicts came to be viewed as matters of historical rather than literary or theological inquiry, and proposing that these conflicts be revisited, not as threats to the Bible’s literary unity or integrity, but as promising sites for hermeneutic reflection.

Linwood House 114

Cassandra Painter is a religious and cultural historian of modern Germany. She earned her BA in History, summa cum laude, from the College of Idaho in 2010, her MA from the University of Rochester in 2012, and will receive her PhD from Vanderbilt University in August 2018. In 2016-2017, she was a Fellow at the University of Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. Her research, which has been supported by a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship as well as Fulbright Scholarship, focuses on lived religion in the modern world, in the uses of culture to express identity, and the ways in which faith traditions evolve and adapt over time and space. Her dissertation examines the life and subsequent cult of veneration of stigmatic and visionary Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824), using her as a recurring touchstone in an examination of how German Catholics created meaning and built community in modern Germany; who was able to participate in this process; and how Catholics’ understanding of themselves, their faith and their place in Germany evolved over time.

Linwood House 116

Christine Hedlin earned her BA in English and Spanish from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, and will receive her PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in August 2018. Her research interests include nineteenth-century American literature, secular theory, American religious history, and historical approaches to the novel. Her essay “‘Was There Not Reason to Doubt?’: Wieland and Its Secular Age” has appeared in the Journal of American Studies. She is currently revising her dissertation, “Novel Faiths: Nonsecular Fiction in the Late Nineteenth-Century U.S.,” into a book manuscript that considers how American Protestants used popular religious novels to catalyze changes in their faiths. In this project, she argues that the narrative structure and formal flexibility of the novel made it a key testing ground for new beliefs that responded creatively, resiliently, to seismic events like the rise of Darwinian evolution, the death toll of the Civil War, and the failures of Reconstruction. Christine has previously held interdisciplinary fellowships with the University of Illinois’s Network for Neuro-Cultures and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

Linwood House 112

Daniel Silliman is a U.S. historian, his research focusing on religion in American culture. He earned a BA from Hillsdale College and then, after a few years as a newspaper reporter, moved to Germany, where he studied American Studies. He earned an MA from the University of Tübingen and a doctorate from Heidelberg University, where he also taught American religious history for five years at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies. Silliman’s dissertation, “Fictions of Belief,” tells the story of how bestselling evangelical fiction shaped evangelicals’ imagination and identity. His has also written on how evangelicals imagine the Bible, the economic history of the Left Behind novels, the Heidelberg Catechism in America, and Reformed interpretations of World War I. His popular writing appears regularly in the Washington Post.

Linwood House 111

Jason M. Gehrke is an historical theologian, whose work explores the inter-relationships of Christology, political theology, and ethics, in both the ancient and modern world. His interests include the patristic reception of classical philosophy, the intellectual history of the Just War Tradition, and inter-religious dialogue. He earned a BA from Hillsdale College (’07), an MA in Religion from Concordia Theological Seminary (’10), and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Marquette University (’17). His dissertation, “Christus Exemplar: the Politics of Virtue in Lactantius,” conducts an extensive re-reading of Lactantius’s response to the Diocletianic Persecution. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email