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Knox Students Present Work on Islam and Religious Philosophy

August 14, 2017

Melissa Smith

by Celina Dietzel '17

The Arab Spring, 9/11, and the first Intifada of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict were the focus of a paper that Melissa Smith '18 presented at the annual Midwest Region of the American Academy of Religion (MAAR) Conference.

Her paper is entitled "Martyrdom and Suicide: A Political Comparison." In combination with information from the Qur'an and personal testimony, Smith's work explores what can be considered martyrdom and what can be considered suicide.

She was joined at the conference in Muncie, Indiana, by James Thrall, Knight Distinguished Associate Professor for the Study of Religion & Culture, and Anya Wang '17, who presented the paper "Intellectual Intuition in Kant's First Critique and Mystical Experiences."

The American Academy of Religion is a national professional organization for scholars of religious studies. The Midwest regional group invites paper proposals for its annual conference from faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students.

Wang presented her paper as part of the panel "Ethics, Intuition and the Theological," and Smith presented her paper as part of a panel on Islam: "Revitalization of Religious Thought and Practices in a Radical Age." 

"The conference is a wonderful opportunity for undergraduate scholars to interact with graduate students and faculty from the region," said Thrall. "[Smith and Wang] were the only undergraduates on their panels and did a great job of presenting their ideas and of engaging with the other panelists and the audience."

Smith said the conference was extremely helpful. "Not only did it allow me to step out of my comfort zone in terms of presenting my work, it also opened my eyes to a lot of different ideas in religious studies," said Smith, an international relations major and a religious studies minor. This summer, she has been interning with the Nepal State Department of Public Affairs.

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Printed on Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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