CERCL's Leadership Lecture Series advances understanding of Houston’s impact on national issues of religion, social justice, political equality, etc., by inviting noteworthy figures to give public lectures on related topics. All lectures and panel discussions are free and open to the public.
Bernadette J. Brooten, Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies, of Women's and Gender Studies, of Classical Studies, and of Religious Studies at Brandeis University, is founder and director of the Brandeis Feminist Sexual Ethics Project. This project aims to create Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sexual ethics rooted in freedom, mutuality, meaningful consent, responsibility, and female (as well as male) pleasure, untainted by slave-holding values. These religions' sacred texts and traditions have all tolerated slavery, which has frequently involved the sexual exploitation of women and girls.
Brooten heads a team of scholars, activists, artists, and policy analysts who are disentangling the nexus of slavery, religion, women, and sexuality. They aim to help religious and other people complete the abolition of slavery and move beyond harmful racial and sexual stereotypes. Because religion is a powerful social force, transformed religious sexual ethics, based not on scriptural literalism or the hierarchies of ancient slave-holding societies but on respect, will benefit the whole of society.
Brooten has edited, with the editorial assistance of Jacqueline L. Hazelton, Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacies (2010). She was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for 2011–2012 to write a book on early Christian women who were enslaved or who owned enslaved laborers and was a Visiting Scholar with the Harvard Women's Studies in Religion Program to do the research.
She has written Women Leaders in The Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues (1982), Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (1996), for which she received three awards, and she has edited Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacies (2010). She has also published on various topics in ancient Jewish and early Christian history. In addition to a MacArthur Fellowship, she has held fellowships from the Harvard Law School, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and many other agencies.
Brooten studied at the University of Portland (B.A. 1971), the University of Tübingen, Hebrew University, and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1982). She previously taught at the School of Theology at Claremont, the Claremont Graduate School, the University of Tübingen, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Oslo.