Professor speaking in Germany and Austria

ELKINS – Dr. Bryan L. Wagoner, assistant professor of religious studies and philosophy at Davis & Elkins College, will deliver lectures at two major European universities this summer and will participate in discussion groups with other scholars from throughout the world.

From June 25-28, Wagoner will be one of 13 lecturers – and the only invited speaker from the United States – to participate in a three-day round-table colloquium as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the University of Frankfurt. Founded in 1914, the University of Frankfurt was a haven for progressive thinkers, and it was an immediate target of Hitler’s National Socialist regime, with most of the faculty fired in 1933. This symposium looks at a group of thinkers, who, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, attempted to critique the Nazis before they took power.

Wagoner’s Frankfurt lecture is titled “Religious Socialism as Critical Theory – Tillich and the Institute in Frankfurt,” engaging the philosopher of religion Paul Tillich and the so-called “Frankfurt School” of critical social theory and philosophy. Wagoner began researching the topic for his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University and has continued at D&E, revising a book on the subject, which is under review for


“This topic continues to fascinate me, not only because of the importance of the historical era at the cusp of Nazism, but also because it bridges traditional boundaries between religious studies and philosophy,” Wagoner said. “I find such disciplinary boundaries constricting. One of the things I love about teaching at D&E is the freedom to pursue both.”

The 13 invited panelists, primarily from Germany, Austria and Great Britain, will participate in a three-day discussion in Frankfurt under the auspices of the University’s Protestant Faculty as a part of the centenary celebration. All papers from the academic conference in Frankfurt, in both German and English, will be published by De Gruyter Press.

“I am humbled to have been selected as a participant in this momentous celebration and panel discussion with some of the top scholars in the field,” Wagoner says. “Most of the scholars I have relied on for my initial research will be there, and I am thrilled to have been invited to share my own research and receive feedback.”

Wagoner will then travel to the University of Innsbruck in Austria where he will present a lecture and participate in a working-symposium with the University’s prestigious Catholic Faculty, from June 30-July 3. He will present two talks – one exploring Christian and Jewish approaches to socialism and the common good in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as part of Innsbruck’s “Kleine Otto Bauer Symposium,” and another discussing his teaching and research in relation to violence and the sacred.

Wagoner joined the Davis & Elkins College faculty in fall 2012. He earned his doctorate in religion from Harvard University, his Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology from Yale University and his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and literature from Gordon College. His research interests include modern religious thought, secularism and religious identity, and comparative world religions and ethics.

The Davis & Elkins College program of Religion and Philosophy offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and philosophy and a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious education. Students also may select a minor in religion or philosophy. In addition, all D&E students are required to take a course in religious studies or philosophy.

Courses in religion are designed to introduce students to basic religious concepts, texts and interpretative traditions, both Western and Eastern. Comparative and thematic courses allow students to examine the relationship of religions to other aspects of human behavior and connect with other disciplines. Courses in philosophy are designed to introduce students to basic philosophical concepts, including Western and non-Western traditions, which will enable them to grapple with contemporary ethical issues and improve critical thinking skills.

For more information, please visit the D&E website at or call 304-637-1243.