March 23, 2009
Dr. Frederick M. Denny, professor emeritus of Islamic Studies and the History of Religions at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is the featured speaker for the annual Morningside College Wright Lecture series at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, in the UPS Auditorium of the Lincoln Center, 3627 Peters Avenue.
Denny’s address is titled “Perceptions of Islam and Muslims: Scholarship and Public Opinion over the Past Four Decades.” His appearance is sponsored by the Morningside College Wright Lecture series and the college’s Academic and Cultural Arts Series (ACAS). The event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Bruce Forbes, professor and chair of the religious studies department at Morningside, said Denny will discuss how the field of Islamic studies and public opinion about Islam have changed during the last 40 years.
“Dr. Denny is of Christian background and was one of the first persons to earn a doctorate in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago,” Forbes said. “The whole field of Islamic Studies has changed since the time he received his doctorate in 1974. It has grown from a time where it was mostly Christians talking about a different religion to a time where many of the top-ranked scholars in the field are Muslims themselves. Denny has watched this happen and has helped nurture this generation of Muslim scholars. He can also reflect on how religious studies as a field has changed and evolved into the scholarly academic field that it is today.”
Prior to joining the faculty at Colorado, Denny held teaching appointments at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H., Yale College in New Haven, Conn., and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He has also held Fulbright-sponsored teaching positions in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Denny has authored numerous articles and book chapters on Islamic related topics. His most widely recognized publications are the college textbook “An Introduction to Islam” (3rd edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005) and his work as the lead editor for the second edition of the “Atlas of World Religions” (Oxford University Press, 2007). He is the founding editor of the scholarly book series “Studies in Comparative Religion,” published by the University of South Carolina Press, which has over 50 titles since 1985. Denny served for 11 years on the board of directors of the American Academy of Religion and was president and regional director of the Rocky Mountain Great Plains Region.
Denny holds bachelors degrees from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Mass., and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Chicago.
The Wright Lecture series, which started in 1981, brings outstanding preachers, religious leaders, and prominent religious studies scholars to Morningside College. The lectures are funded by an endowment established by Dr. and Mrs. Ernest Wright.