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Primiano Awarded Regional Faculty Mellon Research Fellowship

Posted on 7/29/2014 11:02:00 AM


Radnor, Pa. (July 29, 2014) – Cabrini Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Leonard Norman Primiano, Ph.D., was named a 2014‑15 Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities by the Penn Humanities Forum of the University of Pennsylvania. 

This marks the second distinction this year for Primiano, who in March was one of only six educators in the nation to receive The Kennedy Center/ Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award (2014). 

The Regional Faculty and Professional Mellon Research Fellowships are awarded each year to a small number of faculty, directors, or curators from Philadelphia-area colleges, universities, and cultural organizations who wish to conduct research on that year’s Penn Humanities Forum topic. 

However, some awardees of the 2014–15 fellowships extended beyond Philadelphia to include faculty from George Washington University and Howard University, both in Washington, D.C., and Reed College in Portland, Ore. 

Recipients are awarded $5,000 and present their research at one Mellon Research Seminar in either the fall or spring semester on the Penn Humanities Forum topic for that year. 

The 2014–15 Forum topic is Color, which, according to the Forum’s website, “invites a dialogue between practitioners and humanities’ scholars working at the intersection of color and meaning.” 

Past Forum topics have covered the spectrum from Violence (2013–14) and Change (2008–09), to its first topic, Style (2000–01). 

Primiano titled his proposed Forum research, “The Complexion of God: The Spiritualized Aesthetics of Color in Father Divine's Peace Mission Movement.” 

“My project concerns the intersection of color and meaning in American sectarian religion, specifically examining the use of color in the African American minister Father Divine's International Peace Mission Movement,” he says in his proposal for the fellowship. 

Primiano’s research project builds upon his 20 years of scholarship on American religion, folklore and folklife, much of that engaged in an ethnographic study of Father Divine’s International Peace Mission Movement. 

His two-decades of research has focused ethnographic and analytic attention on how the International Peace Mission’s religious culture expressed in architecture, song, food, and photography maintains stability and cohesion within this historically interracial, but highly African-American, belief-centered sectarian religion. 

Earlier this year, Primiano’s essay, “‘And as we dine. We sing and praise God’: Mother Divine’s Theology of Food” was published in the anthology, "Religion, Food, and Eating in North America," released by Columbia University Press. 

For more about the Penn Humanities Forum, visit, http://humanities.sas.upenn.edu.

About Cabrini University
Founded in 1957 by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Cabrini University is a Catholic institution that empowers students to become advocates of social change through an Education of the Heart, focusing on academic excellence, community engagement, and leadership development.

Cabrini enrolls approximately 1,300 undergraduates in more than 35 majors, pre-professional programs, concentrations, and minors on its serene 112-acre campus located 30 minutes from Philadelphia. The University also enrolls 900 students in graduate, doctoral, and professional studies programs at its main campus in Radnor, PA, and at five off-campus locations.