James S. Dalton, Ph.D.

Dr. Dalton and an Evzone guard, Athens
Dr. Jim Dalton and Evzone guard 

You have choices on this Web page

           bullet Academic Career
  bullet Teaching Areas
  bullet Research Interests
  bullet Human Beingness


           bullet Foundations Sequence I (Foun100) -- Fall 1999
  bullet Foundations Sequence II (Foun105) -- Spring 2000
  bullet Experiences of the Sacred (Relg181) -- Spring 2008
  bullet World Religions (Relg 280) -- Spring 2006
  bullet The American Evangelical Tradition (Relg310) -- Fall 2006
  bullet Religions of Native Peoples (Relg380) -- Spring 2005
  bullet Religion and Globalization (Relg390) -- Fall 2007
  bullet Buddhist Traditions (Relg385) -- Fall 2009

 Academic Career

           bullet B.A. (Philosophy) Marquette University, 1964
  bullet M.A. (Theology) Marquette University, 1965
  bullet M.A. (Church History) The University of Chicago, 1970
  bullet Ph.D. (Church History) The University of Chicago, 1973

    I actually began as an English major with a love of literature but found that I loved reading it more than taking it apart (in the New Criticism manner which was then in fashion). Alas, if cultural studies had been around, perhaps . . . Philosophy, especially the history of Philosophy, ended up enthralling this wandering student. Existentialism and Phenomenology were my favorites, especially Heidegger.

    A generous offer from Fr. Bernard Cooke, S.J., drew me into the "new" theology of Vatican II and into the history of Christian thought. I found myself back in philosophy with a religious twist. Sacraments and ritual fascinated me and their history kept me in the library.

    After a teaching stint of three years at Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas (sponsored by Benedictine Nuns and no longer extant), I found my way to the University of Chicago where I intended to focus on the history of American Christianity. I then wanted to know what religion had to do with American culture and my interests in history, philosophy, literature all were centering on this topic.

    Although my interest in American culture and religion continued, I discovered a new love of my life, the History of Religions, at Chicago. Much of this had to do with professors like Gerald C. Brauer, Mircea Eliade, Martin E. Marty and Frank Reynolds. I ended up doing half of my work in the History of Christianity (focusing on Evangelical Christianity) and half in the History of Religions (focusing on Theravada Buddhism). I tried to combine the two interests in my doctoral dissertation entitled "The Kentucky Camp Meeting Revivals, 1797-1805 as Rites of Initiation." The only missing element was literature. Happy as a clam was I!

    In September of 1972 I migrated to Siena College where I am still pursuing my interests and enlightening (hopefully) my students. Some Eliadian influence followed me here where I found another interest, the religions of native peoples. I have also become interested in the role of the human imagination in shaping cultures, especially in shaping them in the midst of cross-cultural contact. More of this below. Finally, in my ever widening horizons, I am combining all of the above in an interest in religion and globalization. I have revised my "World Religions" and am proposing a course entitled "Religion and Globalization" currently.

 Teaching Career

    In the Department of Religious Studies at Siena College, I am responsible for teaching courses in the History of Religions (world religions, Buddhism, the religions of native peoples, globalization and religion) and the History of Western Religions (religion in Western culture, history of religion in the United States, Evangelical religious history). Here are some of the courses which I teach

          bullet Relg 101: Religion in Western Culture (Christianity, Islam and Judaism)
  bullet Relg 181: Experiences of the Sacred (Introduction to religious experience)
  bullet Relg 305: A History of Religion in America
  bullet Relg 280: World Religions (excluding Christianity, Islam and Judaism)
  bullet Relg 310: The American Evangelical Tradition
  bullet Relg 380: The Religions of Native Peoples
  bullet Relg 385: Buddhist Traditions (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana)
  bullet Relg 490: Seminar: Cults in America
  bullet Relg 490: Seminar: Imagining Native Americans
  bullet Relg 490: The Dalai Lama and Tibet
  bullet Relg 490: Religion and Music

Research Interests

            I am interested in the religious imagination and the role it plays in the creation, maintenance and changing of cultures. I believe that the creation of culture is an imaginative act on the part of a human community. When cultures come into contact a moment of cultural creativity, change, and even destruction takes place. Thus a fundamental dynamic of human history becomes apparent.

My current research is currently focused on the "religious imagination" and on contact studies involving the mutual image creation of Native Americans and European Americans:

          bullet When Europeans came to the Americas, they brought with them a treasury of religious images which they used to interpret "the New World." They encountered other treasuries of images, those of Native American peoples. Later African peoples (through slavery) and Asian peoples (through labor) brought their own imagined worlds. The results are a range of cultures newly born and shaped in the America's. The United States is one of these. I am working on various events in the collision/cooperation of these images and the cultural situation which resulted in the Unites States.
  bullet I am also interested in the role of the "religious imagination" in creating expressions of religious experience in what we in the West call "the arts." In other words, how can forms such as music, performance, painting and sculpture, architecture and so forth express a community's understanding of and response to  Sacred Reality.

Page last updated on August 3, 2009

Religious Studies Web Page

Siena College Web Page

This Web page is maintained by Jim Dalton                         

This is an unofficial Siena College Webpage - The ideas and content expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the college.