Religion, Health, and Humanities Researchers (RHHR) exists to cultivate scholarship in the humanities and social sciences at the intersection of religion, spirituality, and health by fostering cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural collaborations and increasing the exposure of research in these areas.
The RHHR was first founded in early 2022 when Adam Powell, a Lecturer of Religion and Medical Humanities at Durham University, took to Twitter to gauge interest in a new research network that would bring like-minded individuals together around issues of spirituality, religion, and health. Having spent several years working on large collaborative medical humanities projects, Powell saw a need for more attention on spirituality and religion among the scholars and organisations comprising the field. Medical humanities was growing in size and influence, in part as a result of calls for the humanities to justify their existence, but the desire for a fulsome account of human experience that held much of the field together too often seemed to discard or disregard experiences of transcendence or ultimate meaning. Powell’s tweet, simply asking if anyone else felt similarly and would be interested in a new network, quickly received affirmative responses from nearly 100 researchers across the globe. In March 2022, the RHHR Leadership Team was formed, and planning began.
The network maintains an email listserv which acts as the membership list, currently boasting members from five continents. Members are encouraged to use the listserv to connect with others in the network, promote activities and outputs of relevance, and to learn about exciting developments from international colleagues.
“The RHHR serves multiple needs, pushing scholars of religion to further engage the quickly growing field of medical humanities and encouraging medical humanities to take advantage of the critical approaches of the academic study of religion.”Dr. Kristy Slominski
Meet the team
Chair and Founder, RHHR
Adam is a Lecturer in Medical Humanities in the Institute for Medical Humanities and the Department of Theology & Religion at Durham University. His research blends history, theology, psychology, and the social sciences to explore how individuals and collectives manage threats – social and sensory – to religious identity and mental stability. He is the author of Irenaeus, Joseph Smith, and God-Making Heresy (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015) and Hans Mol and the Sociology of Religion (Routledge, 2017) as well as numerous articles on anomalous spiritual experiences, social conflict, and minority religious communities. From 2016 to 2020, Adam was a core member of the award-winning project, Hearing the Voice, the largest ever research study of auditory verbal hallucinations and other voice-hearing experiences. His research into those who hear spiritually-significant voices has been featured in Slate, Forbes, BBC Science Focus, and news outlets in over 30 countries.
Zoë is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Literary Studies at Ghent University (Belgium), and visiting professor at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). She has been made a Senior Humboldt Fellow in the Department of German Literature at the University of Regensburg (Germany) for the 2022/23 academic year. Zoë is a classicist and comparative literature scholar working at the intersection of classical receptions, religion, and media in modern and contemporary Western literatures. In her first monograph, Form und Formauflösung der Tragödie. Die Poetik des Tragischen und der Tragödie als religiöses Erneuerungsmüster in den Schriften Paul Ernsts (1866-1933) (De Gruyter, 2015), she has demonstrated how the literary and poetical works of the German conservative author Ernst attested to a conception of life that gradually evolved from a tragic and life-affirming style (‘Form’) towards a spiritual, ascetic, and self-destructive (anti-Nietzschean) model. Her second monograph is Communicating with the Dead in Contemporary Western Literature: Spiritual Mediums and Technical Media (Routledge, 2023).
In Ghent, Zoë co-founded both the Consortium for Health, Arts, Reading and Medicine (CHARM) and the research group Twentieth-Century Crossroads (TCC). She was elected as a new member of the Young Academy, Belgium in 2022.
Kristy is an Assistant Professor of Religion, Science, and Health in the Religious Studies and Classics Department at the University of Arizona where she leads its program in Religious Studies for Health Professionals and is co-director of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture. In 2021-2022, she was awarded the inaugural Dorrance Dean’s Award for Research and Entrepreneurialism for her project to develop “Health Humanities Training in Religion and Culture” for medical and nursing students in the U.S..
Kristy’s research and teaching specializes in the interactions of religions, science, and health in U.S. history as well as the intersections of U.S. religions and sexuality, with a focus on sexual health education. Her book, Teaching Moral Sex: A History of Religion and Sex Education in the United States, was named one of Oxford University Presses “Most Read in Religion” for 2021. It argues that liberal religions—primarily Protestant—laid historical foundations for both the conservative and liberal sides of contemporary controversies between abstinence-only and comprehensive sexuality education. She has published essays based on her book in Aeon and The Immanent Frame and has been featured on podcasts The Revealer and Straight White American Jesus.
Slominski previously served on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Religion (AAR). She is currently a co-chair of the AAR’s Religions, Medicines, and Healing unit, and a member on the Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Committee. Slominski received her MA and PhD in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her BA in Religious Studies from Michigan State University.
Jonathan is a Research Fellow in Biblical and Early Christian Studies at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.
He looks at early Christian asceticism, the medical cultures of late antiquity, and traditions of prayer and spiritual practice in Byzantium and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. His first book (2015) explores the monastic engagement with death and judgment, focusing especially on the masterpiece of Byzantine monastic literature, the Ladder of Divine Ascent. His current monograph (under contract with Oxford University Press), part of the Modes of Knowing Project at ACU, explores the medical context and logic of early monastic practices of spiritual direction.
Jonathan’s interest in medicine extends to clinical practices in late antiquity and their applicability to questions of clinical relationship and care being explored in the health/medical humanities today. He pursues this interest through research in the discursive histories of pain and emotion from Hellenistic philosophy through Byzantium. In context of this work, he serves on the board of ReMeDHe, an international working group for scholars interested in “Religion, Medicine, Disability, and Health in Late Antiquity.”
Joining the Network
Membership in the RHHR is simple. We use an email listserv for all important announcements and network-related communications, including promoting members’ accomplishment, circulating CFPs, and seeking out collaborators for that next grant application.
All you need to do to join is click the button below. On the top left of the page, you will click ‘Subscribe’ and simply enter your information. Your subscription will typically be approved in minutes, and you can begin using the listserv to make your own relevant announcements or to network with other members.
Please note that the email list is automatically filtered, and any spam or inappropriate posts will be rejected.
For more information about the RHHR network, please contact Adam Powell using the form below.