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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

A Thirty-third Stone? Civil Religion, Mourning and Memorials at Virginia Tech

A Thirty-third Stone? Civil Religion, Mourning and Memorials at Virginia Tech

Jerome E. Copulsky, Goucher College

Date: September 19, 2007
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM

 This talk examines how the mourning and memorialization of the April 16th shootings at Virginia Tech reflected unique forms of American "civil religion." How did the administration, students and faculty of Virginia Tech develop a language and a symbolism of its collective mourning and remembrance?   How did their appeal to the civil religion of the “Hokie nation” organize and manage the ways in which the tragedy would be understood and its victims remembered?  What were the tensions between the official modes of mourning and those of various religious individuals and groups?  We will also consider the theologically tinged controversy that emerged over the question of the placement of a "thirty-third stone" in remembrance of the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, at the official memorial site.  

headshot of Jerome Copulsky

Jerome E. Copulsky is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Director of Judaic Studies at Goucher College.  He was previously Assistant Professor and Director of Judaic Studies at Virginia Tech, and holds degrees from Wesleyan, Columbia, and the University of Chicago.  His essays and reviews have appeared such places as The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor,, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Journal of Religion, and Azure.