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 1999, he received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from Cabrini.
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.
In September 2014, he curated at Cabrini College’s Gorevin Gallery the exhibition of his personal collection of Italian ex-voto paintings, “Graces Received: Painted and Metal Ex-Votos from Italy.”
A December 2011 publication about this exhibition contains his essay: “Catholiciana Unmoored: Ex-Votos in Catholic Tradition and their Commercialization as Religious Commodities.”
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.”
Primiano was named in the 2014–15 academic year a Regional Faculty Fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Research Seminar on Color within the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania.
Primiano was elected a Fellow of the American Folklore Society in November 2014. He had served a three-year term on the Society’s Executive Board from 2011 to 2013. He is the co-chair of the Folk Belief and Religious Folklife chapter of the society.
Recent public papers and lectures include: the October 2013 panel “Why Do We Need Saints” at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Calif.
In May 2014, Primiano traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, to deliver a paper, “Sentimentality, Sacramentality, Memory: Towards a Typology of Catholic Kitsch” at the 11th Conference of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) Working Group on Ethnology of Religion.
In June 2014, he delivered “The Complexion of God: Sacred Creativity and Photography in Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement” at the Fifth Ethnography and Qualitative Research Conference, Bergamo, Italy.
While in Europe, Primiano was invited to present a lecture at The Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen.
In the 2014–15 academic year, Primiano:
Delivered the keynote lecture, “The Ethnography of a Liar: The Question of Deception in the Performance of Religious Life History,” at the British Association for the Study of Religion Annual Meeting (September 2014)
Offered the paper, “One Donkey, Two Cows, and the Virgin Mary: Votive Animals and the Visual Culture of Catholic Intercession,” at the Annual American Folklore Society Meeting in Santa Fe, N.M. He also served as respondent to the annual Don Yoder Lecture in Religious Folklife. (November 2014)
Served as chair for the panel “Religion at the Crossroads: Experimentation, Innovation, and Change in Hinduisms and Buddhisms as Practiced in Contemporary Asia” at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in San Diego, Calif. (November 2014)
Will lecture at Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures in association with the semester-long residency of his collection of Italian painted and metal ex-votos. His talk, “How to Read Catholic Folk Art,” is Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, at 4:30 p.m.
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:
“Manifestations of the Religious Vernacular: Ambiguity, Power, and Creativity,” in Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief, eds. Marion Bowman and Ulo Valk (Equinox Pub., 2012:382-394)
“‘And as we dine. We sing and praise God’: Father and Mother Divine’s Theologies of Food” in Religion, Food, and Eating in North America, eds. Ben Zeller, Marie Dallam, Nora Rubel (Columbia University Press, 2014:42-67).
“Artifacts of Belief: Holy Cards in Roman Catholic Culture” in Experiencing Religion, Clara Saraiva, ed. (Lit-Verlag: in press)
“Kitsch and Religion” in Companion to Religion and Popular Culture, John Lyden and Eric Mazur, eds. (Routledge Press, in press)
“Bayside Apparitions; Ex-Votos; Retablos” in Miracles: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Supernatural Events from Antiquity to the Present, Patrick J. Hayes, ed. (ABC-CLIO, in press)
General Editor, A Cultural History of Religion. 6 Volumes. Bloomsbury Press; (in preparation)
Editor, Volume 6: A Cultural History of Religion: In the Modern Age Bloomsbury Press; (in preparation)
Editor, Vernacular Catholicism: Essays in Folkloristic Ethnography. University of Utah Press: Folklore and Religion Series (in preparation)
Editor, Folklife Studies. University of Utah Press (in preparation)
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: email@example.com