Amy DeRogatis Appointed Department of Religious Studies Chairperson

Amy DeRogatis, Professor of Religion and American Culture, is the new Chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies, appointed to a five-year term that began July 15, 2021.   

“Professor DeRogatis has a long record as an intellectual leader in her field, in the College, the University, and across higher education. Her award-winning research and teaching have deepened our understanding of religious practices across a wide diversity of cultures,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “Amy is a leading advocate for inclusive excellence, who will elevate our ongoing efforts to advance our core values of equity, openness, and community.” 

Professor Amy DeRogatis

DeRogatis has been part of the Department of Religious Studies faculty since August 1998. She served as Faculty Excellence Advocate for the College of Arts & Letters where she worked with faculty colleagues, department chairs, and the dean, to help create a climate that promotes quality, inclusiveness, alignment, objectivity, consistency, and transparency of all academic human resource policies and practices. Throughout her career, she has served in key leadership roles in her professional society. She is currently an elected member of the national Program Committee of the American Academy of Religion. 

“It’s an honor for me to serve the Department of Religious Studies in a leadership position,” DeRogatis said. “I cannot think of a group of scholars who I admire more than my departmental colleagues. They are outstanding scholars who are leading their fields in research. All of them are committed and talented teachers who have taught me a lot over the years about the possibilities and joy of excellent teaching inside and outside of the classroom. And, they are exceptional people who are dedicated to working collaboratively to create an environment that supports everyone’s endeavors. I am deeply grateful for their support as I assume this new role.” 

DeRogatis’ research focuses on religion in the United States with particular attention to sexuality and gender. In books, articles, and digital projects, she investigates the multiple ways that religious groups, people, and communities engage with their traditions through material and embodied practices. Known as an outstanding teacher, her courses often integrate her current projects, inviting students to participate in on the ground research. 

DeRogatis is the Co-Director of the American Religious Sounds Project (ARSP), a collaborative digital initiative with The Ohio State University, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, that documents and interprets the diversity of American religious life by attending to its varied sonic cultures. During the COVID pandemic, the ARSP shifted its research focus to explore how the sounds of religious practice changed over the period of quarantine and social distancing. The ARSP research team is partnering with the Smithsonian on a traveling SITES exhibit that will launch in Spring 2022. The team is also working on a sound art installation that will open in May 2022 at the Urban Arts Space in Columbus, Ohio. 

Professor DeRogatis has a long record as an intellectual leader in her field, in the College, the University, and across higher education. Her award-winning research and teaching have deepened our understanding of religious practices across a wide diversity of cultures.

Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters

DeRogatis is an engaged scholar whose research and writing reaches a broad audience. Her most recent book, Saving Sex: Sexuality and Salvation in American Evangelicalism, was reviewed in academic and popular journals and featured in a New York Times OpEd, The Atlantic Monthly, and The book delves into the history of popular evangelical sex manuals and the efforts that authors made to convince readers that embodied sexual practices and restraints constitute a form of witnessing to their faith. Her first book, Moral Geography: Maps, Missionaries, and the American Frontier, used cultural geography and spatial theory to examine white Protestant missionary efforts to shape the space of nineteenth-century northeastern Ohio. Drawing on an archive of letters, diaries, publications, and maps from the Connecticut Missionary Society, she argues that missionaries found evidence for their success by inscribing their moral values onto the physical landscape.  She is currently working on a third book, Mormon King, about James Jesse Strang and the Strangite community on Beaver Island, Michigan.  

DeRogatis has received numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award in recognition of her comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence, instruction, and outreach. Supported by MSU’s Office of University Development, the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Awards are made each year to faculty members for their outstanding total service to the University.  

DeRogatis has a Ph.D. in American Religious History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Spanish with a minor in Religion from Oberlin College.  

As Chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies, DeRogatis is responsible for the overall operation of the Department. She replaces Arthur Versluis, who had served as Chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies since August 2009 and stepped down to focus on his teaching and research.   

“I would like to thank Arthur Versluis for his long years of service as an outstanding Department Chair,” Long said. “His commitment and leadership during his tenure has positioned the department well for future success and an easy transition. In addition, I am grateful for the time everyone in the department took to participate in the search process and particularly for the conscientious work of the search committee.”