Dan Moseson. 2010
Majors: Philosophy; Religious Studies
Ph.D. Student, Religion, Syracuse University
What led you to study Religion – and why at Montclair State?
Frankly, that’s where the most interesting professors were, or the first ones I encountered. The topic had always fascinated me, and they really opened it up in new ways. The department there also embodies something very important that I’ve continued to find in my grad program – the definition of “religion” is always up for grabs, and you can say interesting things about “it” from a range of disciplines, from philosophy and psychology to gender studies, history, ethnography, and aesthetics.
Which courses and/or professors did you enjoy most?
My favorite courses were Celtic and Irish Religions with Dr. Johnson, Kierkegaard with Dr. Kogan, Women and Religion with Dr. Eller, and a Philosophy of Biology course with Dr. McDermid. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Dr. McDermid’s class gave me a leg up on questions about the role of science in the “science and religion” debate that I’m still working on today. Dr. Eller’s class was my first introduction to feminist scholarship on religion; having this familiarity has been very useful to me in my graduate program (and in the more general life project of not being a jerk). Dr. Kogan’s classes on Heidegger and Kierkegaard were an absolute life-raft my first semester in graduate school, since those thinkers are so central (as inspiration and as arch-foils) for the postmodern and post-structuralist theoretical frameworks you’re likely to encounter in humanities graduate programs.
I also benefited immensely from the Department’s openness to interdisciplinary study and the freedom to come to Religion classes with questions I’d picked up in psychology or philosophy. They allowed me to get a fluency in those disciplines and in translation between disciplines that has been invaluable in graduate school.
What are you doing now, and how has studying Religion helped you in “life after Montclair State”?
Right now I’m a doctoral student in Religion at Syracuse University, though I’m not planning on an academic career. Studying religion at MSU prepared me both for my graduate program and for life, because nobody policed any boundaries too aggressively. The professors all had friends in other departments and loved it when we met them, took classes with them, absorbed their perspectives. We learned to make principled distinctions without building walls.