2021 Conrad Wright Lecture
The 2021 Conrad Wright Lecturer is the award-winning historian Dr. Judith Weisenfeld, the Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Drawing from her current research, Dr. Weisenfeld’s lecture “Race, African American Religion, and American Psychiatry” explores how early American psychiatry emerged within the racialized landscape of religion in the United States and considers how ideas about race, religion, and mental normalcy shaped African Americans’ possibilities for community formation and spiritual healing in the aftermath of slavery. More details for the lecture will be forthcoming.
In an interview with Princeton University’s Discovery Magazine: Research at Princeton University, Dr. Weisenfeld described her work “tracing the stories of African Americans declared insane over the century following Emancipation,” following “the rise in psychiatry as a ﬁeld of science and the parallel ascent of the discipline’s racialized theories about African Americans, theories that helped fuel continued subjugation after the end of slavery.” Her research shows how “racialized theories persisted among inﬂuential white psychiatrists well into the 20th century.”
Dr. Weisenfeld is the author of several books including New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration (Winner of the 2017 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions), Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929–1949, and African American Women and Christian Activism: New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945. She is an editor of the journal Religion & American Culture and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Africana Religions and American Religion. Dr. Weisenfeld is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Society of American Historians.
UUHHS continues its commitment to excellence in history and honoring the legacy of Conrad Wright by inviting leading and promising new scholars to give Lecture each year. Past lecturers include Christopher Cameron (University of North Carolina), Sylvester Johnson (Virginia Tech), Tisa Wenger (Yale University), and Kathryn Gin Lum (Stanford University), among others. x