Stephen C. Finley

Stephen C. Finley

Associate Professor

Ph.D.: Religious Studies, Rice University, 2009

Phone: 225-578-7023
Office: 231 Coates


Stephen Finley received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Rice University in 2009 shortly after joining the faculty at LSU in 2008. He has a joint appointment to the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Program in African & African American Studies.  

Areas of Interest

Dr. Finley specializes in African American religion. His courses revolve around African American religious cultures, African American religious thought, and theory and method in the study of religion. His research expands upon these themes with an emphasis on African American religion and embodiment. His ongoing research for book projects is in three primary areas: 1) African American Latter-day Saints; 2) Malcolm X and Gender; and 3) African American Religion, Esotericism, and UFOs.

Courses Offered

  • REL 2000 Introduction to the Study of Religion
  • REL 2025/AAAS 2025 African American Religion
  • REL 4010 Special Topics: Black Religion and Film
  • REL 4400/AAAS 4400 The Religious Thought of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X
  • HNRS 3031 Race in the Age of Obama
  • AAAS Black Intellectual Thought
  • AAAS Religion, Hip Hop, & Culture

Awards and Honors

  • Tiger Athletic Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award, LSU 2012
  • Junior Faculty Travel Grant, Office of Research and Economic Development, LSU 2011-12
  • Summer Research Award, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, LSU 2011
  • Africana Research Award, African & African American Studies, LSU, 2011
  • Charles Redd Fellowship in Western American Studies, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, 2010.
  • Arnold L. Mitchem Dissertation Fellowship, Marquette University, 2007-2008
  • Fund for Theological Education (FTE) Dissertation Fellowship, 2007-2008

Selected Publications


  • In and Out of this World: Material and Extraterrestrial Bodies in the Nation of Islam (monograph, under review).

Edited Volumes

  • Co-editor. ‘There Is a Mystery’: Esotericism, Gnosticism, and Mysticism in African American Religious Experience (under contract, Brill).
  • Associate Editor. The Encyclopedia of African American Religious Cultures (2 vols.).

Articles and Chapters

  • "The Meaning of ‘Mother’ in Louis Farrakhan’s Mother Wheel: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Cosmology of the Nation of Islam’s UFO.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion  80.2 (2012).
  • “Homoeroticism and the African American Heterosexual Male Quest for Meaning in the Black Church.”Black Theology: An International Journal 5.3 (2007).
  • “Two Warring Ideals, One Dark Body: Hegemony, Duality, and Temporality of the Black Body in African-American Religion.” Pages 399-417 in Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities. Edited by Regina Spellers and Kimberly Moffitt. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2010.
  • With Margarita L. Simon. “That Girl Is Poison”: White Supremacy, Anxiety, and the Conflation of Food and Women in the Nation of Islam. Pages 3-27 in Women  and Religion in the World. Vol. 7, Women in New and Africana Religions. Ed. by Lillian Ashcraft-Eason, Darnise L. Martin, and Oyeronke Olademo. Westport, CT: Greenwood Praeger, 2010.
  • With Torin D. Alexander. “In Search of the Promised Land: Post-Civil Rights Trends in African American Religion.” Pages 207-26 in Faith in America: Changes, Challenges, and  New Developments. Vol. 1:Organized Religion Today. Ed. by Charles Lippy. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2006.

Media/Public Appearances