On Tuesday 26 May, Todd Weir, Professor of History of Christianity and Modern Culture at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen, will be holding his inaugural lecture entitled ‘What might a joint history of Christianity and secularism look like? The case of worldview’ .
In his inaugural lecture, Prof. Weir will explore how he intends to develop his chair of the History of Christianity and Modern Culture around the challenging question of how to write an entwined history of religion and secularity. His lecture will focus on the research that he is currently undertaking into the history of worldview: how can this history help us better understand the dynamics involved in the development of worldviews and their conflicts? What new perspectives can conceptual history offer to scholars of religion who are relying more and more on worldviews to bridge the secular/religious divide?
Todd Weir specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of modern Germany and in the transnational history of religion and secularism. He previously taught at Queen’s University Belfast for nine years, after holding positions at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and the University of Washington. Since September 2016, Todd Weir has been working as an Associate Professor in the Department of Christianity and the History of Ideas of the University of Groningen’s Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. He is the director of the Faculty’s
Centre for Religion and Heritage
Prof. Weir is currently researching how the term ‘worldview’ developed during the clash between secularists and Christians in modern Europe over the past two centuries. ‘In this process, each side borrowed strategies and even spiritual concepts from the other side, often unwittingly’, he comments. ‘My monograph Secularism and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Germany: The Rise of the Fourth Confession (Cambridge UP, 2014;
winner of the Jacques Barzun Prize for Cultural History
) argued for the insertion of secularism into German religious history, not just as a force acting against the existing Christian confessions, but as a confessional force in its own right’.
A second trend in his recent work is the transnational history of religion and politics during the interwar period. ‘I initiated and now convene an international research network of around 30 scholars on “Socialism and Religion in the Twentieth Century”, which held its first conference on interwar religious politics in June 2015’. A follow-up conference on religion and socialism in the long-1960s was held in Groningen in June 2017, and a conference on apologetics and politics was convened with the support of the British Academy in September 2017.
Since he became the director of the Centre for Religion and Heritage, Weir has set up several collaborations with NGOs and universities. Together with various important Dutch heritage organizations, he has initiated a
on the topic of ‘religious heritage in a diverse Europe’, which will take place between 19 and 21 June in Groningen.
Weir is also in high demand as a speaker on heritage. He has delivered keynote lectures on village churches for the Protestantse Kerk in Nederland (Protestant Church in the Netherlands), on religious heritage for UNESCO in Paris and, very recently, at a roundtable event on Religion and European Society at the European Parliament in Brussels. During these lectures, he tries to show the innovative potential of religious heritage to stimulate important talks between various religions and to mediate between the religious and secular members of communities.
Prof. Weir also teaches part of the Master’s degree programme in Religion and Cultural Heritage that started in September 2017, and he explains why research and education in this field is becoming increasingly valuable: ‘As the public role of history is expanding, a new class of heritage experts is required. New museums and historical sites are opening, historical tourism is growing, and educational and cultural institutions are increasing their engagement with the past. This Master’s degree programme provides students with the theoretical and practical education necessary to take on an active role in this exciting sector. Religion lies at the core of every intangible and living culture and the study of religion helps us to ask important questions on heritage practice. Our combined expertise allows us to place Christian heritage in a broad context that includes other religious traditions and even secularism. The study of cultural heritage at a faculty of theological and religious studies makes Groningen’s Master’s degree programme truly unique ’.
On Tuesday 28 May, Todd Weir will formally accept the position of Professor of History of Christianity and Modern Culture by way of his inaugural lecture, entitled ‘What might a joint history of Christianity and secularism look like? The case of worldview’. If you wish to attend the oration, please register by filling in the registration form below.
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