Lori K. Pearson is Associate Professor of Religion at Carleton College. She earned her MTS and her ThD from Harvard Divinity School, and her BA from St. Olaf College in philosophy and religion. She is a specialist in the history of Christian theology with particular interests in nineteenth-century German Protestant thought, modern philosophy of religion, historicism, race, and feminist theory. Pearson is chair of the Nineteenth-Century Theology Group of the American Academy of Religion. She is interested in the relation between Christian theology and theories of religion in the modern period. Her research has focused on concepts of tradition, modernity, and the secular in the long nineteenth century.
Pearson’s first book, Beyond Essence: Ernst Troeltsch as Historian and Theorist of Christianity (Harvard Theological Studies 58; Harvard Divinity School, 2008), examines the efforts of Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923) to define Christianity in relation to emerging theories of historical relativism and social change in late-nineteenth-century Germany. She has also published numerous articles and served as a speaker at international conferences on various aspects of Troeltsch’s thought, including his theory of religion, his understanding of the Enlightenment, and his analysis of social organization in relation to attitudes toward gender and the family. Pearson is also co-editor, with Slavika Jakelic, of The Future of the Study of Religion (Brill, 2004), a book that explores methodological questions about objectivity, comparison, secularization, gender, and globalization in contemporary theories of religion.
Pearson is currently at work on a book project on religion and social theory in the work of Marianne Weber (1870-1954), today remembered as wife of Max Weber but known in her own time as an influential public intellectual and a leader of the moderate wing of the women’s movement in Germany in the early 1900s. Through interdisciplinary scholarship that probed issues of authority, domination, gender, and religious values during a time of rapid modernization in German culture, Marianne Weber engaged nascent intellectual categories (in the fields of sociology and religion) and also called for the reform of Germany’s legal codes concerning marriage and the family. Pearson’s book will use Marianne Weber’s work to explore the ways in which cultural and political debates about women’s rights informed early-twentieth-century theories of religion, social order, and secularization in fin de siècle Germany.