RADNOR, Pa. (Oct. 7, 2010) — Dr. Leonard Norman Primiano’s work on the Father Divine Project, an authoritative multimedia study of an American religious movement, was recognized when he was among 12 educators selected to participate in a month-long digital workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Dr. Primiano, chair and professor of religious studies at Cabrini College, traveled to the University of Southern California this summer for the workshop, which brought together innovative humanities scholars with cutting-edge designers and technologists in state-of-the-art production facilities to rethink the relationship of multi-modal-media to academic research, publishing and pedagogy.
The Father Divine Project (www.fatherdivineproject.org) is an online research database and multimedia documentary about the Peace Mission Movement, an international, interracial and celibate religious community founded in 1919 by the African-American minister Reverend M.J. Divine (Father Divine), who served as spiritual leader from 1907 until his death in 1965.
Dr. Primiano’s project—undertaken with Will Luers, a media artist, researcher, and Visiting Professor in the Creative Media and Digital Culture Program at Washington State University, Vancouver—works to present the story and culture of the Peace Mission Movement.
Dr. Primiano and Luers maintain that by allowing followers of the mission to articulate their own belief system, framed by historical contexts and insights provided by scholars, as well as archival images and recordings, viewers of the project will be informed and challenged to make their own critical evaluations of this indigenous American religion.
Father Divine moved to Philadelphia in 1942. Four years later, he married Edna Rose Ritchings, a Canadian follower who, as Mother Divine, succeeded her husband as the movement’s leader after his physical passing. The Peace Mission Movement still owns several properties in Philadelphia, including Woodmont, a 72-acre estate in Gladwyne, and the Circle Mission Church, Home and Training School on South Broad Street.
Other Fellows at the “Broadening the Digital Humanities” workshop included faculty from Brown, Dartmouth and New York Universities, the University of Illinois, the University of Rochester, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California. The workshop was hosted by USC’s Humanities Research Institute, the Center for Multimedia Literacy at USC’s School for Cinematic Studies, and the electronic journal Vectors.
About Cabrini College
Students do extraordinary things at Cabrini College, a residential Catholic college welcoming students of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds. Since its founding in 1957 by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Cabrini College has been a national leader among higher education institutions in social justice education. Cabrini offers more than 30 majors, pre-professional programs, concentrations and minors to undergraduate students, and has graduate programs at 15 off-site locations. The College’s serene 112-acre campus is located in Radnor, Pa., 30 minutes from Philadelphia.