Professor of Religion Lori Pearson Awarded Prestigious Mellon Foundation Grant

Apr. 2, 2014

Lori Pearson, Carleton College professor of religion, has been awarded a New Directions Fellowship from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for her project “Gender, Religion, and Social Theory: Marianne Weber and the Origins of Religious Studies.” This substantial fellowship, in the amount of $241,700, will enable her to address legal, cultural, and societal debates about women’s rights that shaped theories of religion in Germany around 1900. The funding primarily supports summer and sabbatical leave time, along with graduate coursework.

“This grant illustrates the commitment of Carleton faculty to seeking to improve their own skills as academics, skills that always spill over into the classroom,” notes Christopher Tassava, associate director of corporate and foundation relations.

Pearson joined the Carleton faculty in 2003 and is a specialist in the history of Christian theology with particular interests in modern philosophy of religion, social theory, race, and feminist thought. Her research has focused on theories of tradition, and on concepts of religion, modernity, and the secular in nineteenth century-Germany. She is author of Beyond Essence:  Ernst Troeltsch as Historian and Theorist of Christianity (2008) and co-editor of The Future of the Study of Religion (2004). Her current book project uses the work of Marianne Weber (wife of Max Weber) to explore the ways in which cultural and political debates about women's rights informed early 20th-century theories of religion, social order, and secularization in fin-de-siècle Germany.

Pearson earned a BA from St. Olaf College and an MTS and ThD from Harvard University.

New Directions Fellowships are intended to enable strong scholars in the humanities to acquire competency in an academic field other than their primary area of specialization. The Fellowships are unusual in so far as they are long-term investments in a scholar’s intellectual range and pedagogical capacity and do not call for a scholarly product such as a book or research report at the end of the awardee’s leave.