Recipient, Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching
Recipient, The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award (2014)
Leonard Norman Primiano, Ph.D., came to Cabrini’s Religious Studies department in 1993 with a foundation in religious studies and folklore and folklife studies, and a desire to teach courses on the history of Christianity, vernacular religion, religious folklife, contemporary moral problems, and contemporary American religion.
Throughout his years at the College, he has dedicated himself to teaching students about the relationship of these exciting fields.
In 2014, Primiano was awarded The Kennedy Center / Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award.
Primiano serves as co-producer of “The Father Divine Project,” a multimedia documentary and video podcast about Father Divine, Mother Divine, and the Peace Mission Movement.
In 2010, he was selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities-supported Summer Fellowship program “Broadening the Digital Humanities,” held at the Vectors-IML/UC-HRI Summer Institute at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy. He is also writing and producing the documentary film “I Know You Are God: The Marriage of Father and Mother Divine.”
He has served as the developer and curator of Cabrini's Religious Folk, Popular, Liturgical Arts Collection since its inception in 2002.
Primiano was elected to the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society for a three-year term in January 2011. He is the co-chair of the Folk Belief and Religious Folklife chapter of the American Folklore Society. He is also co-chair of the Space, Place, and Religious Meaning Consultation of the American Academy of Religion.
Academic honors include selection in 2010 for the American Folklore Society/Mellon Foundation sponsored program and book series, “Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World,” supporting the development and publication of his upcoming monograph, “God’s Paintings in Wool: The Vernacular Religious Art of Sister Ann Ameen by the University of Illinois Press.”
In June 2013, he traveled to Vilnius, Lithuania, to deliver a paper, “The Use of Memorates in the Creative Embroidery of Life History: The Case of ‘Sister’ Ann Ameen,” at the 16th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research.
While in Europe, Primiano also delivered the paper “How To Read Catholic Kitsch” in Tartu, Estonia, at the 11th Conference of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore in July 2013.
In October 2013, Primiano offered a paper at the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society in Providence, R.I., and participated in the panel “Why Do We Need Saints” at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Calif.
In 2014, he will lecture at Elon University in Elon, N.C., and Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. These speaking engagements are associated with the exhibition at both universities of his personal collection of Italian ex-voto paintings, “Graces Received: Painted and Metal Ex-Votos from Italy.”
A December 2011 publication on this exhibition contains his essay: “Catholiciana Unmoored: Ex-Votos in Catholic Tradition and their Commercialization as Religious Commodities.”
Additional honors are a 2007 American Academy of Religion Collaborative Research Grant and a 1998 American Academy of Religion Individual Research Grant. From 2000–01, he was a member of the Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church-Related College.
In 1999, he received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from Cabrini. In 1998-99, he served as specialist in folk and popular religion for the national exhibit, “Angels from the Vatican: The Invisible Made Visible.”
Primiano was named a Fellow in the Young Scholars in American Religion program at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University in 1997-98.
His research areas include American religion; vernacular, folk and popular religion; American folklore and folklife studies; religious material culture (including Roman Catholic “holy cards”); and religion and the media, including Catholicism and television.
Recent and upcoming publications include:
“I Wanna Do Bad Things With You: Fantasia on Themes of American Religion from the Title Sequence of HBO’s True Blood” in God In The Details: American Religion In Popular Culture
“The Consciousness of God’s Presence Will Keep You Well, Healthy, Happy, and Singing: The Tradition of Innovation in the Music of Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement” in The New Black Gods: Arthur Huff Fauset and the Study of African American Religions
“Manifestations of the Religious Vernacular: Ambiguity, Power, and Creativity” in Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief
“Artifacts of Belief: Catholic Holy Cards in American Culture” in Ephemera Across the Atlantic: Popular Print Culture in Two Worlds
“And as we dine. We sing and praise God’: Mother Divine’s Theology of Food” in Religion, Food, and Eating in North America
Primiano earned a dual doctorate in religious studies and folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. He earned a master of theological studies from Harvard University.
He received a master’s in folklore and folklife and a bachelor’s in religious studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
Contact Information Leonard Primiano, Ph.D.Chair and Professor, Religious Studies Co-Director, Honors Program Grace Hall, Room 250610-902-8330Fax: firstname.lastname@example.org