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Science, History and Claims of Revelation is Topic of Sept. 15 WIU Woods Lecture

September 13, 2011

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MACOMB, IL – Ann Taves, a professor of religious studies at The University of California, Santa Barbara, will present the 25th Annual Mary Olive Woods Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 in the University Union Grand Ballroom at Western Illinois University. Her lecture is, "Playing Fair with Other People's Religions: Science, History and Claims of Revelation."

Taves, who holds the Virgil Cordano OFM Endowed Chair in Catholic Studies at UC Santa Barbara, has written four books and three have earned distinction. Her most recently published book is "Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things" (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), for which she won the 2010 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. "Fits, Trances and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James" (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), was the winner of the 2000 Association of American Publishers Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Philosophy and Religion and one of Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries Outstanding Academic Books of 2000. Her book, "The Household of Faith: Roman Catholic Devotions in Mid-Nineteenth Century America," University of Notre Dame Press, 1986 (hardcover), 1990 (paperback), was co-winner of the Manuscript Competition in the CUSHWA Center of the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, 1985.

"Over time, the focus of my research has shifted from answering historical questions about religion to using historical materials to explore how people make sense of ambiguous events and experiences that inhabit the indeterminate space between imagination and reality, craziness and inspiration, fiction and faith," Taves wrote on her UC Santa Barbara faculty page ( "Increasingly, in other words, my attention has turned to the underlying processes whereby people decide that experiences and events are religious and then, in some cases, develop traditions of practice to recreate them in the present."

She taught at Claremont (CA) from 1983–2005, and she served as a visiting professor in the department of religion and as a research scholar in the Center for the Study of American Religion at Princeton University from 1997-1998. Taves was named to the UC Santa Barbara professorship in July 2005. She also was a fellow in the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto (CA) from September 2008–August 2009.

Taves received her bachelor of arts degree in religion (1974), with distinction, from Pomona College (Claremont, CA), and her master of arts (1979) degree and Ph.D. (1983), with distinction, from The Divinity School at The University of Chicago.

The annual Woods Lecture is sponsored by Western's philosophy and religious studies department, in conjunction with the 1987 trust fund of Mary Olive Woods. In addition to the yearly lecture presentation, the Woods fund provides student scholarships to deserving philosophy majors and religious studies majors and minors during the fall and spring semesters.

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