The Gustavian Weekly

Annual George Hall Lecture honors student research | The Gustavian Weekly

By Jack Wiessenberger - Staff Writer | May 10, 2019 | News

The department of religion recently hosted its annual George Hall lecture. The event took place May 9 in the President’s Dining Room. The lecture was given by Dr. John Person, a Gustavus graduate from 2002.

“We hold the George Hall lecture every spring to honor student research in the Religion Department and to celebrate the achievements of graduating seniors. Last year, Rabbi Jeremy Fine [from] the Temple of Aaron Synagogue in Saint Paul was our speaker. We typically host speakers who are religious leaders in the scholarly or public realms,” Associate Professor in Religion Casey Elledge said.

For the annual lecture, the religion department reaches out to former students who have exceeded in their study of religion. This year, the department chose Dr. Person.

“We were excited about hosting Dr. Person’s lecture this week. He was an outstanding student at Gustavus and, since graduation, his scholarly journey has taken him to the University of Chicago, the University of California Los Angeles, Japan, and New York. His work exemplifies the quality preparation that Gustavus offers undergraduate students in the academic study of Religion,” Elledge said.

Elledge was not alone in his excitement regarding Dr. Person’s lecture on campus. Several other professors from the department of religion were enthusiastic.

“Person graduated with a double major in religion and International Management. Dr. Person wrote his senior thesis on 20th century Japanese intellectual history, with a focus on modern Japanese philosophy. Dr. Person went on to do graduate work in the same field at the University of Chicago’s East Asian Studies program, receiving his Ph.D in 2012. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the State University of New York, Albany,” Religion Associate Professor John Cha said.

The religion department was happy to have Dr. Person speak at the George Hall lecture this year. However, this was not Dr. Person’s first time speaking at the event.

“In 2002, the Religion Department hosted Dr. Masao Abe, an internationally known philosopher from Japan. John Person acted as translator for Professor Abe. Dr. Person is fluent in Japanese,” Cha said.

Dr. Person has studied Japan extensively. His expertise lies in the area of Japanese intellectual thought, especially relating to  ideas of fascism.

“Professor Person joined the East Asian Studies faculty in Fall 2014. His research focuses on modern Japanese history and intellectual thought, especially related to the development of fascism,” the State University of New York at Albany website says.

Dr. Person’s lecture was titled From Gustavus to the Study of Fascism. This area of study has been the staple of Dr. Person’s research and teaching career.

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