Listen to scholars and activists reflect on the execution of Troy Davis. Troy was executed  by the state on September 21, 2011, despite an abundance of evidence calling into question whether he was actually even guilty of a crime.

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Laura Markle Downton reflects on how racism and white privilege perpetuate state-sanctioned systems of violence and trauma.  (44 minutes)

Laura is the Criminal Justice Grassroots Coordinator at General Board of Church and Society, UMC. She holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a concentration in Women’s Studies.


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 Emilie Townes discusses her work as a womanist ethicist and her thoughts on capital punishment. (12 minutes)

Dr. Emilie M. Townes holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Religion in Society and Personality from Northwestern University. She is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Yale Divinity School, as well as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology.  Dr. Townes is  the author of numerous texts, including her groundbreaking book, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil.


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 Diana Swancutt talks about the Bible and racism; ideology and systems of violence; and why learning to lament in community might be one way to transform injustice. (46 minutes)

A Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar and recent winner of the Lilly/ATS Faculty Sabbatical Grant, Professor Swancutt combines interests in gender, ethnicity and empire studies, rhetoric, ideological criticism, and ancient social practices in her interdisciplinary research. She focuses on early Christian identity formation in Pauline communities, particularly the resocialization of Greeks into Pauline Christian Judaism.


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 Andre Willis shares on disciplinary boundaries in the academy; the need for visionary and healing tools and practices; and the injustice of the death penalty. (35 minutes)

Dr. Andre C. Willis is Assistant Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at Yale Divinity School.  Willis has published articles on American pragmatism and religion, religion and democracy, African American thought and history, and jazz music. He is a regular contributor to the website and is editor of Faith of Our Fathers: African-American Men Reflect on Fatherhood. He earned his PhD from Harvard University.


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 Jason Craige Harris articulates the historical injustices behind the use of the death penalty. (50 minutes)

Jason Craige Harris is a third-year master’s candidate in Black Religion in the African Diaspora and a Marquand merit scholar at Yale Divinity School. His research and writing are principally concerned with black life, Christianity, colonialism, rhetorical violence, feminisms, and ultimately planetary flourishing. With an eye toward contemporary social problems, he considers the religious strategies and visions that historically marginalized peoples have used and casted to respond to conditions of living and being delimited by restrictive understandings of race, gender, religion, and nation.

Dear writers and those who dream of writing: Here’s number 3 in my series on writing. In this episode, I am referencing creative writing, but I will here add that the principle I discuss about speaking more truthfully applies to academic and professional writing, too.

(Enjoy with a cup of Earl Grey. And a dollop of cream.)

Hey there, dear writers. Here’s another 2-minute episode hosted over at Vimeo.  This one is on one of my favorite subjects. If you hang around me too much you know I talk about it all the time.

(But, this video needs a quick edit: I mention Western modernity as the last “500 years.” That’s not right at all—really quite terrible math, even if modernity is dated in all kinds of ways. What I should have said was that early modernity is generally dated to the mid 1600s.)

I am doing a new video series for my blog, called “Two-Minute Tea Time for Writers.” People, it’s really nothing short of a miracle that I am learning to do all these techy things.  Check it out!  (You might need to push the “embed” button on Vimeo to make the video run without stalling.)

Class Description: This four-week creative writing course teaches you to pay attention to embodied knowledge. Drawing on anthropology, philosophy, and feminist theory, we’ll discuss the historical reasons for how the “body” has been split from the “mind” in Western culture. We’ll do contemplative writing exercises that restore a sense of mind-body integration. You’ll gain skills to improve your writing, as you learn to honor the body in your creative process.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How does an online class work?: You will receive 4 lectures in mp3 format, as well as some supplementary written course materials that lead you through the course. Then, depending on what level of writing coaching you have signed up for, you will meet 1:1 over Skype with the class instructor, who will also review your writing assignments.

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Note: These are tips on writing, not final editing. Writing and editing are not the same process, even if they can overlap at points.

1: Start with an idea that gives you energy. How do you know it gives you energy? You should feel tingles in your body. You should want to talk about it at the dinner table. You should find yourself pondering it in the quiet, subtle places in your mind.

2: Write to discover that very idea. Write into the epiphany that hasn’t arrived yet. Don’t expect to know x-y-z about the idea before you write. Sure, you are going to know something about the idea. But stay curious. Let your fingers go faster than your conscious mind. See what your subconscious knows. See what kinds of associations lead you into rich discoveries and new juxtapositions.

3: Write and write and write. Write out three pages of flowing ideas. Be OK with messiness and non-linear thinking. You can clean up the page later.

4: Pause. Take a breath. Feel what you are feeling in your gut.

5: Now, go looking for the first sentence. Where is it? Maybe it is in the middle of the third page?

6: Look for the emotional-intellectual heart of what you are saying. Are you writing into that emotional-intellectual heart?

Read more »

I cannot write today.

I cannot write today because there is too much dust on my bedroom floor. It is distracting. And then there is the state of my closet.  My clothes have yet to be color-coordinated, my shoes are in disheveled stacks.  And you should see the state of my desk drawers: old birthday cards and flashlights and random Christmas ornaments all squished in with boxes of staples and a collection of used-up ink cartridges still waiting to be recycled.

No, I cannot write in my bedroom.

So, I am trying the kitchen table. But, I am nervous; I am bracing myself. I live with 8 housemates, all of whom I like very much. They are my family away from family. But this moment of almost beginning to write is tentative. Right as I begin to write is very fragile. Read more »

I will be offering one more workshop in Seattle before heading back east. Please see below for details:

New note on the class: This class is now full.

For those who can’t attend or missed the class but who would like to purchase an audio copy of the lecture, please email me with your contact information at listeninglikeafeminist AT

Workshop Title: Church, Violence, & Listening Like a Feminist
(Or, “What exactly is going on in that sermon?”)

Date: Sunday, August 7, 6:00–8:30 p.m.

Cost: $22

Location: Lower Queen Anne, Seattle. More details to be sent to participants after they register.

Class format:

The class is lecture-style, and it’s designed to get you thinking more carefully and analytically about the intersection of gender, sexuality, Christianity, and violence. Our case study for the night will be sermons given on narratives of sexual violence in the Bible: we will examine what works well and what does not work well as those sermons take on a very complex topic. In our investigation, we will look closely at the very implied meaning(s) of terms like “masculinity,” “femininity,” and “violence.” You will learn to pay more attention to how rhetoric works, and you will learn to see how gender-based violence is always part of larger systems of violence (such as classist, racist, and national systems of violence).

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Updated 6/8: Please note, this class is now full. If you are interested in signing up for future classes, please email with your contact information.

Do you have stories you want to tell?
Is this the season for you to invest in your desire to write?
Then consider signing up….

Write From the Body
June 8, 15, 22, and 29
6:30–8:30 p.m.
Lower Queen Anne (Seattle, WA)


Class Format:
Each session will offer both teaching and a time to discuss participants’ writing. We are a kind group—no need to be intimidated! Guided class reflection on your writing will prove enormously useful to your revision process. Further, having the privilege of giving feedback on others’ writing is guaranteed to improve your own.

Common Questions:
Why is this class called “Write from the Body?”
This class focuses on accessing sensory experience in order to write well. We will talk about writing from our embodiment and do contemplative exercises to grow in that awareness. We will also talk about how and why the body has come to be marginalized within contemporary “western” culture. While this is a writing class, you will also get a dose of philosophy, anthropology, and feminist theory.

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On Education

I confess, I am not usually up writing by 6 a.m. I keep late hours, which means I don’t wake up before the sun rises. But, I am trying to change that. The early morning is refreshing. Today, it’s still very dark outside and rainy, but it’s cozy and warm in my apartment. I just lit a fancy non-toxic candle and made myself some rooibos tea (tea is courtesy of my dear friend Holly’s recent visit). Read more »