Religion & Culture
Lane Hall 112
280 Alumni Mall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(tel) 540-231-6551
(fax) 540-231-7013

School of Visual Arts
203 Draper Rd
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(tel) 540-231-5547
(fax) 540-231-5761


Aaron Ansell

Aaron Ansell (Ph.D. in Anthropology from The University of Chicago, 2007) is a cultural anthropologist with topical interests that include democracy, capitalism, patronage, social policy, poverty, kinship, ritual and social theory. His research focuses on rural communities in Northeast Brazil, and explores the way people use talk and other signs to navigate and transform the material features of their lives.

Ansell’s current interests pertain to democracy’s culturally specific manifestations in small-scale societies that have not internalized the ideals of liberal individualism. His recent scholarship explores how people living in Northeast Brazil (and elsewhere) modify received notions of democracy, interpreting representative institutions through alternative ideas about justice and power. He examines the way this marginal rural populations assimilates liberal democracy’s transcendent ideals (e.g. human rights, individual freedom, rational deliberation) into local kinship hierarchies, factional feuding, patron-client exchange, religious affiliation, and occult spirituality.

Anita Puckett

Dr. Anita Puckett is a linguistic anthropologist specializing in Appalachian language and culture relationships. As an Appalachian Studies scholar, however, she also conducts research and has interests in public humanities as it pertains to the cultural history and prehistory of southwest Virginia, material cultural as it relates to language and culture relations, and, in general, issues related to the cultural meaning of objects or language and object relations. These interests, in turn, have resulted in her having worked in public historical and cultural historic areas. As an anthropologist working in southwest Virginia, she has made extensive ties to museums, historical societies, other organizations, and local historians or collectors in the area.

Ann-Marie Knoblauch

Dr. Knoblauch’s current research involves underrepresented groups in the ancient Mediterranean world, particularly the archaic and classical Greek world (ca.600-400 BCE). The history of the Greeks is written by and about Athenian men, and Dr. Knoblauch attempts to articulate other voices, non-Athenian and non-male, through looking at the material culture left behind. This approach to the ancient world manifests itself in two main research streams, active fieldwork on the island of Cyprus, and investigations into the visual iconography of Athenian women. Dr. Knoblauch maintains a strong international profile, having presentedpaper in Italy, Germany, Greece and Cyprus and Scotland, as well as co-organizingan international conference in 2006, The Mythology and Iconography of Colonization,with colleagues from the Universita’ degli Studi di Napoli Federico II in Naples, Italy. The papers from this conference has been published in the peer-reviewed Electronic Antiquity.

Bailey Van Hook

Bailey Van Hook is an historian of 19th and 20th century European and American art. She received her M.Phil and Ph.D. at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where she wrote a dissertation on images of idealized women in turn of the 20th century American art. She published it as Angels of Art: Women and Art in American Culture, 1876-1914 (Penn State Press, 1997). Her more recent research has been in the area of American beaux-arts art and architecture and she wrote a study of murals of that era, The Virgin and the Dynamo: Public Murals in American Architecture, 1893-1917 (Ohio University Press, 2003). Her biography of muralist Violet Oakley (1874-1961) has recently been published by the University of Delaware Press. Dr. Van Hook taught at Fordham University, SUNY New Paltz, and Queens College (CUNY) before she came to Virginia Tech. She teaches over a wide area of interests, including her specialties, 19th and 20th century art, as well as the history of photography and the history of graphic design.

Brian Britt

Brian Britt received his Ph.D. in Religion and Literature at the University of Chicago in 1992. He is a Professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech. His teaching areas include Religion and Literature; Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; and Judaism, Christianity, Islam. His research relates ideas of authority and writing from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary culture. His third single-authored book, Biblical Curses and the Displacement of Tradition, appeared in 2011, and he is currently writing abook about current debates in religion and culture with the working title “Walter Benjamin Today: Tradition and Agency.”

Professor Britt is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the International Walter Benjamin Association.

Danille Christensen

Danille Elise Christensen is Assistant Professor of Public Humanities in the Department of Religion and Culture. She received her PhD in Folklore from Indiana University’s Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology in 2009. Her ethnographic and archival research focuses on the intersections of vernacular traditional practice, ideology, and popular culture in the United States; specific research interests include domestic material culture, craft, environmental humanities, and the ethnography of communication. In 2010, Dr. Christensen was one of four Research Associates working on the Civil Rights History Project, a Congressionally mandated effort to locate and document oral histories related to the Civil Rights Movement. From May 2010-May 2013, she was Managing Editor of the Journal of Folklore Research, a peer-reviewed international forum for current theory and research in the study of vernacular expressive culture.

Trained in performance-centered approaches to the study of cultural expression, much of Dr. Christensen’s work has centered on the ways material culture is embedded in talk and action. Her courses in American Studies, Appalachian Studies, and Multicultural Communication encourage hands-on fieldwork, community engagement, and attention to the cultural politics of everyday expressive forms, including handmade book genres, sporting events, musics, narrative, and foodways. She is completing Freedom from Want (under contract with University of North Carolina Press), a book about the promotion and practice of home canning in the United States over the past century.

David Cline

David Cline is an historian specializing in 20th century U.S. social movements, oral history, and public history. He is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Virginia Tech, and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Public History. He teaches courses in Public History, Oral History, Historical Research Methods, Museums and Historic Sites, and the Civil Rights Movement. He was formerly the Associate and Acting Director of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He holds a BA in African Studies from Macalester College, an M.A. in U.S. History with a certificate in Public History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a Ph.D. in U.S. History from UNC Chapel Hill. His public history projects have included serving as lead interviewer for the Civil Rights History Project of the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2013, work on a National Public Radio documentary on the Korean War in 2002-2003 and a 2005 project to document the Cherokee Trail of Tears. David is the author of Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961-1973 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and was a recipient of the Margaret Sanger Award for Work on Reproductive Health in 2006. He was also the recipient of the National Council on Public History’s New Professional Award in 2004. He is currently working on a book of oral histories exploring African American participation in the Korean War and its relationship to the Civil Rights Movement.

Elizabeth C. Fine

Elizabeth C. Fine (Ph.D. in Communication, University of Texas at Austin, 1978) is a Professor Emerita in the Department of Religion and Culture and was one of the founders of the MA program. Her research interests include cultural studies, African American folklore, performance studies, and Appalachian Studies. She is the author ofSoulstepping: African American Step Shows (University of Illinois Press, 2003, 2007), Performance, Culture, and Identity, co-edited with Jean Haskell Speer (Praeger, 1992), and The Folklore Text: From Performance to Print (Indiana University Press, 1984, 1994). She is an Associate Editor for Text and Performance Quarterly. Her articles have been published in such journals as the Journal of American Folklore, Semiotica, Communication Monographs, Journal of the Appalachian Studies Association, National Women’s Studies Association Journal, Southern Folklore, Literature in Performance, Annals of Tourism Research, Sprache und Sprechen, and The Drama Review, as well as in numerous books. She has also produced three documentaries: The Patient Art:  Weaving the Tampa Tapestries  (with Robert Walker), 1990; Well-Known Stranger: Howard Finster’s Workout  (with Robert Walker), 1987; Up and Down These Roads:  A Rural County in Transition (with Jerry Scheeler), 1982.

Emily Satterwhite

Emily Satterwhite (PhD, Emory University, 2005) is Associate Professor of Humanities in the Department of Religion and Culture. Her research fields include Appalachian studies, reception studies, popular culture, critical whiteness studies, and social and cultural history. Professor Satterwhite’s book, Dear Appalachia: Readers, Identity, and Popular Fiction since 1878 (UP of Kentucky, 2011), examines fan mail in order to assess the social needs and desires that prompted readers’ fascination with the idea of Appalachia as constructed in bestselling fiction. Her current book project examines hillbilly horror slasher films for the ways in which they theorize place, race, and class.

Hilary Bryon

Hilary Bryon is an Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture+Design. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Her doctoral research scrutinized the published works of Auguste Choisy and his use of oblique and axonometric parallel projection drawings as a mode of theoretical expression. Her ongoing research includes a thematic analysis of the use of parallel projection as a form of architectural representation over the last 200 years. She is currently writing an essay on Theo van Doesburg’s Counter-Construction drawings from 1924.

James R. Jewitt

James R. Jewitt specializes in the art and architecture of early modern Europe, 1400-1700, with a focus on Italy, England, and the Low Countries. He received his Ph.D. in art history and Advanced Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. His current research projects examine collecting and display practices in Renaissance Venice, the theories and reception of landscape painting, and the patronage of the English courtier Sir Henry Lee (1533-1611). James has published articles in The Burlington Magazine on the portraits of Queen Elizabeth I of England, and on Nicolas Poussin’s activities as a landscape painter in Rome and Spain. His research has been supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Delmas Foundation, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Newberry Renaissance Consortium, and numerous travel awards. His teaching areas include the History of Collecting, Landscape Painting, Medieval Humanities, and the Criticism and Methodology of art history.

Marilyn Casto

Marilyn Casto is a design historian who teaches classes in the history of interiors and the decorative arts. She has spoken at numerous national and international conferences. The range of topics on which she has spoken and written includes theater history, colonial revival, and nineteenth-century design. Her publications include Actors, Audiences and Historic Theaters of Kentucky published by The University Press of Kentucky.

Mark V. Barrow, Jr.

Mark V. Barrow, Jr. is Professor and Chair of the History Department at Virginia Tech and an affiliated faculty member with the Science and Technology in Society Department. His research and teaching lie at the intersection of the history of biology (especially natural history and conservation biology), environmental history, and cultural history, particularly in the American context.  His first book, A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon (Princeton University Press, 1998), won the Forum for the History of Science in America Book Prize and was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Book.  His second book, Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology (University of Chicago Press, 2009), examines how naturalists have engaged with the issue of wildlife extinction in the two centuries leading up to the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  This historically sweeping look at the history of conservation biology was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title and was awarded the Susan Abrahms Prize from the University of Chicago Press and the Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize from the History of Science Society.  He is currently working on a cultural and environmental history of the American alligator, a charismatic predator that we have thought about and interacted with in a variety of often contradictory ways.

Markus Breitschmid

Markus Breitschmid is an internationally active architectural theoretician, historian, and author on architecture. A trained architect and architecture historian, Breitschmid received his education in Switzerland, the United States and Germany. He is a registered architect and a member of the Swiss Institute of Architects and Engineers. He received his Philosophiae Doctor (Ph.D.) in Engineering Science from the Technische Universität Berlin. Breitschmid’s scholarship focuses on the aesthetic mentality of modernism and post-modernity, in particular its promulgations in architecture and philosophical aesthetics. He has authored and edited several books on such subjects as Friedrich Nietzsche, Valerio Olgiati, Bruno Taut, Contemporary Swiss Architecture, Tectonics in Architecture, and Theories of Interpretation.


Matthew Gabriele

Matthew Gabriele is an associate professor and Coordinator of Medieval & Early Modern Studies in the Department of Religion and Culture. He teaches on the European Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Discovery, and modern perceptions of the “medieval.” He has published articles on the apocalypticism and emperor Otto III, the image of Charlemagne in the Oxford Chanson de Roland, the genesis of the anti-Jewish violence of the First Crusade, the memory of the Carolingians around King Philip I (1060-1108) of Francia, and the intellectual formation of Pope Urban II (1088-99). He authored An Empire of Memory: The Legend of Charlemagne, the Franks, and Jerusalem before the First Crusade (Oxford UP, 2011), has co-edited with Jace Stuckey, an interdisciplinary volume of essays entitled The Legend of Charlemagne in the Middle Ages: Power, Faith, and Crusade (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), and co-edited with Benjamin E. Sax, a special issue of the journal Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception entitled “Revisiting the ‘Judeo-Christian’ Tradition.” His next book, Prophecy, Apocalypse, and the Intellectual Transformation of the Medieval West (under contract with Oxford University Press), will investigate how a change in language became evident during the 11th century and how that shift altered how people of that period interacted with the world around them.

Michael Saffle

Michael Saffle has contributed articles and reviews to the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Notes, Acta Musicologica, Asian Music, Music & Letters, the Journal of Popular Culture, and the Journal of Popular Film and Television as well as the International Dictionary of Black Composers. His recent research subjects include “rural American TV music,” The Sopranos television series, and Phineas and Ferb as postmodern musical comedy. He is a member of the Academy of Teaching Excellence at Tech and holds university-level awards in both research and teaching.

Michelle Moseley-Christian

Michelle Moseley-Christian received her Ph.D. with honors from the University of Kansas in 2007, specializing in the study of seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting. Other areas of study include the arts of northern Europe from 1400-1600, the arts of the Italian Renaissance, and intersections between East Asia and the early modern Netherlands in the visual arts. Her current research project investigates the complexities of informal portraits set in scenes of everyday life in seventeenth-century Holland and Flanders by artists such as Rembrandt, Adriaen Brouwer, and Jan Steen.

Paul Quigley

Paul Quigley is James I. Robertson, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War Studies and director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. A native of England and a graduate of Lancaster University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Quigley specializes in the history of the American South during the era of the Civil War. He is the author of Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848—1865, and is currently working on a study of Preston Brooks, the South Carolina congressman who caned Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner in 1856.

Peter Schmitthenner

Peter Schmitthenner is a historian of modern South Asia. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on the cultural history of southern India during British colonial rule. His first book, Telugu Resurgence: C.P. Brown and Cultural Consolidation in Nineteenth-Century South India (New Delhi: Monohar, 2001), examines the impact of a British civil servant’s scholarship on fostering a modern linguistic-based cultural identity. He is currently writing a book about hydraulic engineering in nineteenth-century south India, its development, connections to colonial rule, and impact on society and culture. At Virginia Tech Dr. Schmitthenner has regularly taught introductory Humanities courses on Asian cultures and an introductory sequence on the history of India. He has also taught courses on the following topics: Colonialism and Culture; Explorations in Asian American Cultures; Technology, the Environment, and Cultural Change in Asia and Africa; and the Life and Legacy of Mohandas Gandhi.

Peter Wallenstein

Peter Wallenstein, an award winning teacher and author, joined the Department of History at Virginia Tech some thirty years ago, after teaching in New York, Canada, Japan, and Korea. His many books include Tell the Court I Love My Wife: Race, Marriage, and Law—An American History (2002) and Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History (2007). Graduate courses he has taught include the Civil Rights Movement, Race and Gender in the History of American Higher Education, and most periods of U.S. History.

Roger Ekirch

Roger Ekirch is an award-winning author and a professor of history who received his education at Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University.  Although early America and the American Revolution remain his teaching interests, his writing, which has been translated into six languages, has included both American and European history, as well as the history of sleep. A periodic guest on NPR, the BBC, and the CBC, he is the author of four books, among them At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past (W.W. Norton, 2005), the recipient of multiple prizes. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and he is a frequent book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal. In addition to a Guggenheim fellowship, he has garnered four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2009, he received the University’s Alumni Award for Research Excellence.

Terry L. Clements

Terry L. Clements, ASLA, is Associate Professor in the Landscape Architecture Program, School of Architecture + Design. She received a MLA from the University of California Berkeley and a BLA from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her research includes the design education and pedagogy, cultural landscapes, place and place-making, and women in landscape architecture. In addition, she is currently working on documentation of designed and cultural landscapes in Virginia, cultural landscape management for a project region in Turkey, and studies of urban public open space.