Elizabeth Castelli

Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Religion

Elizabeth A. Castelli is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Religion. 

Castelli is a specialist in biblical studies, early Christianity, feminist/gender studies in religion, and theory and method in the study of religion. She is particularly interested in the reception history and "afterlives" of biblical and early Christian texts— how the Bible and early Christian sources are cited and recycled in contemporary social, political, and cultural expressions and debates. Her English translation of Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini's San Paolo, the never-produced script for a film about St. Paul, appeared in July 2014 from Verso Books UK. She is the founding editor of the scholarly journal Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds, and she is currently at work on a collection of essays on the theme of confession.

In July 2015, Castelli became the Editorial Director of The Marginalia Review of Books, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books. She also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Early Christian Studies and the Journal of Biblical Literature; the academic advisory board of the journal Religion and Gender; and the advisory boards of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University and the Society for Comparative Research on Iconic and Performative Texts (SCRIPT). She is a participant in the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School and a member of the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. She is an active volunteer at Word Up Community Bookshop/Libreria Comunitaria, an all-volunteer-run bookshop and arts/performance space in Washington Heights.



Articles available in PDF format at http://barnard.academia.edu/ElizabethCastelli.

“Rereading The Life of Melania the Younger: From the History of Women to the Theory of Saints.” In Melania: Early Christianity in the Life of One Family, ed. Catherine M. Chin and Caroline T. Schroeder. Under review.

“The Bishops, the Sisters, and Religious Freedom.” In The Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015, forthcoming.

“Translating Pasolini Translating Paul.” Translator’s Introduction to Pier Paolo Pasolini, Saint Paul: A Screenplay, xv-xlii. London: Verso Books, 2014.

“‘After the Apocalypse She Missed Her Dog’: Reading Lucy Corin’s One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses.” The Revealer, October 2013.

“Body.” In Cambridge Companion to Ancient Mediterranean Religions, ed. Barbette Stanley Spaeth, 252-280.  New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2013.

 “‘When You See Blood, It Brings Truth’:  Catholic Ritual and Resistance in a Time of War.”  In Things: Material Religion and the Topographies of Divine Spaces, ed. Dick Houtman and Birgit Meyer, 232-49.  New York: Fordham University Press, 2012.

“Failure to Deliver: Predictions that did not predict and a case-closing report that did not close the case.” The Revealer, May 26, 2011.

“«Verser notre sang, non celui des autres »: Rituel et résistance en temps de guerre.”  Terrain: revue d’ethnologie de l’Europe no. 56 (2011): 22-41.

“The Philosopher’s Paul in the Frame of the Global: Some Reflections.”  South Atlantic Quarterly 109.4 (2010): 653-676.

“What’s the Difference?:  Religion and the Question of Theory.” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 21.1 (Spring 2010): 124-136.

“Slouching toward Copenhagen.”  A review of Antichrist, directed by Lars von Trier, 2009.  Artforum (October 2009): 81-82. 

“Persecution Complexes:  Identity Politics and the ‘War on Christians.’”  differences:  A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 18.3 (Fall 2007): 152-180. 

“Theologizing Human Rights: Christian Activism and the Limits of Religious Freedom.”  In Non-Governmental Politics, ed. Michel Feher with Gaëlle Krikorian and Yates McKee, 673-687.  New York, Zone Books, 2007. 

“The Ambivalent Legacy of Violence and Victimhood:  Using Early Christian Martyrs to Think With.”  Spiritus:  A Journal of Christian Spirituality 6 (2006): 1-24.

“Théologiser les droits de l’homme: La nouvelle Bible des évangélistes américains.”  Vacarme no. 34 (hiver 2006): 196-200.  Numéro special:  Politique non gouvernementale.

 “Praying for the Persecuted Church:  U.S. Christian Activism in the Global Arena.”  Journal of Human Rights 4 (2005): 321-51.

 “Globalization, Transnational Feminisms, and the Future of Biblical Critique.”  In Feminist New Testament Studies:  Global and Future Perspectives,ed. Musa Dube, Althea Spencer-Miller, and Kathleen O’Brien Wicker, 63-78.  New York:  Palgrave, 2005. 

Academic Focus: 

Introduction to the New Testament
Early Christianity
Millennium: Apocalypse and Utopia
Gender in Ancient Christianity
Theory and Method in the Study of Religion
First-Year Seminar:  Confession

Awards & Honors: 


Center for Translation Studies, Barnard College, Spring 2011.

Mellon Faculty New Directions Grant, awarded Fall 2004; used Spring 2006.

Visiting Scholar, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, Brown University, 2005-2006.

Senior Research Scholar, Center for Religion and Media, New York University, 2003-2004.

Visiting Scholar, American Academy in Rome, June 1998.

Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Center for Historical Analysis, Rutgers University, 1996-1997.

NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers, American Academy in Rome, June - August 1996.

Research Fellowship, Henry Luce III Fund for Distinguished Scholarship, Fall 1992.

Collaborative Research Grants, American Academy of Religion, 1990-1992.

Research Fellowship, Annenberg Research Institute, 1990-1991.


American Society of the Study of Religion, elected to membership, April 2007.

Gladys Brooks Excellence in Teaching Award, Barnard College, Spring 2002.

Society of Biblical Literature, Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession, Senior Scholar as Mentor Award, November 2001.

Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, elected to membership, August 2000.

Professional Affiliations: 
Presentations / Recent Lectures: 

“Temporal Displacements in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Saint Paul.” Keynote Address: Old-Time Religion: Exploring the Creativity of Religious Temporality. Stanford University Graduate Student Religious Studies Conference. May 2013.

“Rereading The Life of Melania the Younger: From Women’s History to Using Saints to Theorize With.” Late Antiquity Made New: A Symposium Celebrating the Work of Elizabeth A. Clark. Duke University. April 2013.

“Torture, Spectacular and Routine: Vengeance and Regulation in Late Ancient Christianity.” Syracuse University. February 2013.

“‘Contrary to religious beliefs or moral convictions’: Rights, Refusals, Responsibilities.” Religious Exemptions, Sexual Freedom, and the Biopolitics of U.S. Healthcare. Conference sponsored by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. New York University. October 2012.

“The Sacred Topographies of Pier Paolo Pasolini.” Keynote Address: Sacred Topographies: or, Parks and Revelation. Fordham University Graduate Student Theology Conference. October 2012.

“Translating Pasolini Translating Paul.”  Religion and the Media Workshop – What’s Next for Texts: Scripting Religion in a Networked World. Pre-conference Workshop, American Academy of Religion. November 2011.

“Martyrs and Memory in Late Antiquity.” Panel: Memory in Greco-Roman and Christian Religion. Memory Perspectives on Early Christianity and its Greco-Roman Context Consultation, Greco-Roman Religions Section, Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions.  Society of Biblical Literature.  November 2010.

“Millennium, Apocalypse, and Utopia.”  The Caroline E. Haskell Lectures.  Oberlin College.  April 2010.

“‘First They Came for the Swingers’:  Christian Warriors, Digital Surveillance, and Spiritual Mapping in the Texas Panhandle.”  Digital Religion: Transforming Knowledge and Practice Conference.  Center for Religion and Media, New York University, March 2010.

“Pasolini and Political Theology: The Unmade San Paolo.”  Critical Theory and Biblical Interpretation Section.  International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.  June-July 2009.

“Religious Identity through the Prism of Spectacle in Early Christianity.”  Keynote Address at the Symposium on Identity in Late Antiquity.  Center for Late Ancient Studies.  Duke University/University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  February 2009.

“Martyrdom, Persecution, Politics:  Political Afterlives of the Early Christian Tradition of Martyrdom.”  Clark Horowitz Lectures in Religion.  Pomona College.  October 2007.

“Gender and the Role of Biblical Studies in an Age of Re-enchantment.”  New Testament Society of South Africa Annual Meeting.  University of Stellenbosch.  April 2007.

“Uncivil Religion: Notes from the Christian War Room.”  Keynote Address at the Future of the Religious Past Conference, “Religion and Power,” University of Amsterdam.  June 2006.



Pier Paolo Pasolini, Saint Paul: A Screenplay. Authorized English translation from Italian. London: Verso Books, 2014.

God and Country, special issue of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, guest editor 18.3 (Fall 2007)

Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004)

Interventions: Activists and Academics Respond to Violence, co-editor with J. R. Jakobsen (New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2004)

Reverberations: On Violence, special issue of Scholar and Feminist Online 2:2 (Winter 2004), guest editor

Sexuality in Late Antiquity, special issue of Journal of the History of Sexuality, guest co-editor with D. Boyarin, 10:3-4 (2001)

Women, Gender, Religion: A Reader, editor, with assistance of R. C. Rodman. (New York: Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, 2001)

The Postmodern Bible, co-editor and co-author as a member of the Bible and Culture Collective (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995)

Imitating Paul: A Discourse of Power. Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation Series (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991)

Office Hours: 

No office hours during summer 2015. Please contact me by email, which I will answer as promptly as I can. Thank you.


A.B., Brown University

M.A., Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School

In the News

Prof. Elizabeth Castelli publishes the first English translation of a screenplay by the legendary and controversial Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Religion professor comments on controversy surrounding author Reza Aslan's credentials as a scholar and historian

Religion professor draws connections between two non-events: The Rapture and the release of a report on the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.