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 has been named to the Richard and Phyllis Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University, and has affiliated with Christ College as professor of history and the humanities. Alumni might remember him teaching as a Lilly Fellow on campus 1997-99. This fall he will teach a new CC seminar, “What Is the Good Life? Moral Inquiry before the Modern Age.”

Howard returns to Valparaiso from Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts, where he was associate professor of history. He was director of two distinctive programs at Gordon: the Jerusalem & Athens Forum, an honors program in the history of Christian thought and literature; and Critical Loyalty: Christian Vocation at Gordon College, a five-year project funded by the Lilly Endowment.

Professor Howard completed his MA (1992) and PhD (1996) at the University of Virginia, concentrating in modern European intellectual and religious history. He is the author of Religion and the Rise of Historicism (Cambridge, 2000) and Protestant Theology and the Making of the Modern German University (Oxford, 2006). This summer, he and Mark A. Noll (University of Notre Dame) published an edited volume, entitled Protestantism after 500 Years (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Howard’s articles and reviews have appeared in journals including the American Historical Review, Church History, Journal of the History of Ideas, History of Universities, The National Interest, Modern Age, Christian Century, and Books & Culture. In 2003-04, he served as a Senior Carey Fellow in the Erasmus Institute at the University of Notre Dame. Currently he is working on a project entitled, “American Religion in the European Mind: Reflections on the Transatlantic Religious Divide.”

His wife, Agnes R. Howard, PhD, formerly assistant professor of history at Gordon College, and frequent contributor to The Cresset, Valparaiso University’s review of literature, the arts, and public affairs, will teach in the Christ College Freshman Program this fall.

20140515 JLH Slavica Jakelic-005PhD Religious Studies – Boston University
Mueller Hall Room LL21
Jakelic CV

Slavica Jakelić received her BA in Sociology from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, an MTS from School of Theology at Boston University, and a PhD in religious studies from Boston University. Her scholarly interests and publications center on religion and identity, the relationship of religious and secular humanisms, Christianity in global perspective, interreligious dialogue, and conflict resolution. Before joining the Christ College faculty, 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, and the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. She is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, where she was a faculty member and co-director of the institute’s program on religion 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 (2010). She is currently working on a book entitled The Practice of Religious and Secular Humanisms.

20140813 JLH Mel Piehl-002PhD 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

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.

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

Elizabeth Fredericks earned her BA in English at Hope College. After a brief stint in publishing, she pursued graduate studies in theology and the arts at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, and then completed her MA in English at Durham University. After returning to the States, she completed her PhD in English at Baylor University. Her dissertation, “‘What Saves Us Is Ceremony’: Ritual and Communal Identity in Regional British and Irish Literature” examined the way in which twentieth-century authors from British and Irish regional communities incorporated ritual into their works as a way of articulating and preserving communal identity against the pressures of modernity, a subject that allowed her to bring together her interests in theology and literature.

Linwood House 116

Patrick Gardner earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Notre Dame and his M.T.S. from Duke Divinity School. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Notre Dame, where he also served as a Postdoctoral Teaching Scholar in the Theology Department. His research interests focus on developing Christian responses to the intellectual challenges of modern thought and culture. His dissertation, “Modern Pentecost: Henri de Lubac on Atheism and the Spiritual Posterity of Joachim of Fiore,” examines how these questions are approached in the theology of the French Catholic theologian, Henri de Lubac, especially in his writings on atheist humanism and twelfth-century apocalypticism. His future research will focus on constructing novel approaches to the problem of evil and its challenge to the meaning of Christian faith commitments.

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

Chelsea Wagenaar received her B.A. from the University of Virginia, where she graduated from the Area Program in Poetry Writing.  She went on to pursue her Ph.D. in English with her emphasis in creative writing at the University of North Texas, where she will graduate in May. Her first collection of poetry, Mercy Spurs the Bone (Anhinga, 2015), won the 2013 Philip Levine Prize and was selected by Philip Levine. She is at work on a second collection of poems entitled The Spinning Place. She and her husband, poet Mark Wagenaar, welcomed a daughter into their family in July 2015.

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