Emilie Townes: Silence, Storytelling, and Womanist Thought (Part One)

Today on Encountering Silence we present part one of our two-part interview with womanist theologian Dean Emilie M. Townes.

Dr. Emilie M. Townes, an American Baptist clergywoman, is a native of Durham, North Carolina. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Religion in Society and Personality from Northwestern University. Dr. Townes is the Dean and Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, becoming the first African American to serve as Dean of the Divinity School in 2013.

She is the former Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School and in the fall of 2005, she was the first African American woman elected to the presidential line of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and served as president in 2008. She was the first African American and first woman to serve as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Yale Divinity School. She is the former Carolyn Williams Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Social Ethics at Saint Paul School of Theology.

The Encountering Silence team in conversation with Dean Emilie M. Townes.

She edited two collection of essays, A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering and Embracing the Spirit: Womanist Perspectives on Hope, Salvation, and Transformation; she has also authored Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope, In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness, Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care, and Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. She is co-editor (with Stephanie Y. Mitchem) of Faith, Health, and Healing in African American Life. She also co-edited Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader in collaboration with the late Katie Geneva Cannon and Angela Sims. Townes was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She served a four-year term as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion from 2012 to 2016.

The act of knowing is always contextual and fraught with our best and worst impulses. — Dean Emilie M. Townes

Dean Townes is featured in this video on the legacy of womanist theologians associated with Union Seminary.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 119: Silence, Storytelling, and Womanist Thought: A Conversation with Dr. Emilie M. Townes (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Emilie M. Townes
Date Recorded: November 9, 2020

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Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

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