Th. Emil Homerin

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Th. Emil Homerin

Thomas Emil Homerin (born 1955 in Pekin, Illinois) is an American scholar of religion. Homerin is one of the most notable scholars of religion in the United States and widely publishes, including books, essays, articles and entries in major encyclopedias such as Encyclopædia Britannica. Currently, he is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion & Classics at the University of Rochester, where he teaches courses on Islam, classical Arabic literature, mysticism, and Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester.[1]

Thomas Emil Homerin, who generally abbreviates his first name to "Th." for publication, is the son of Floyd and Miriam Homerin, and brother of John A. Homerin. While growing up in Pekin, Illinois, Homerin attended Douglas Elementary School, Washington Junior High School, and Pekin Community High School. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (B.A. '77, M.A. '78), and completed his Ph.D. with honors at the University of Chicago ('87). Homerin married Nora Walter in 1977, and they have two sons, Luke (born 1987), and Elias (born 1991).

A specialist in Arabic literature and Islam, Homerin has lived and worked in Egypt for a number of years. Among his many publications are The Wine of Love & Life: Ibn al-Fârid's al-Khamrîyah and al-Qaysarî’s Quest for Meaning (Chicago, 2005), From Arab Poet to Muslim Saint (2nd revised edition, Cairo: American University Press, 2001) and his anthology of translations, Ibn al-Fârid: Sufi Verse & Saintly Life (New York, 2001) published as part of the esteemed Paulist Press series Classics in Western Spirituality.[1] The last of these books features a cover painting by fellow former Pekinite Mark Staff Brandl. Homerin also authored several chapters on Islam in The Religious Foundations of Western Civilization (Abingdon Press, 2006), edited by Jacob Neusner.

Death and the afterlife have been a major focus of Homerin’s work, and he has carried out field work in Cairo's al-Qarafah cemetery. This initiated his interest in American funerary customs and practice which evolved into his course Speaking Stones on Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York.[2] This course examines western funeral ritual and practice, with a particular focus on cemeteries in the United States, and how the iconography and epigraphy of graves and funerary monuments forge symbolic connections among the living and the dead. Homerin and his students have published the results of their research in Epitaph, the newsletter of the Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Homerin has been the recipient of grants from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has also received a number of awards including the American Association of Teachers of Arabic Translation Prize, the Golden Key International Honour Society's recognition for his contributions to undergraduate education, the G. Granyon & Jane W. Curtis Award for Excellence in Nontenured Teaching, the University of Rochester’s Teacher of the Year Award, and the Georgen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Education.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Official Faculty Website at the University of Rochester, accessed 16 July 2013.
  2. Rochester Review 65:2 (2003),, accessed 19 September 2007.
  3. Th. Emil Homerin, Umar Ibn al-Farid, Sufi Verse, Saintly Life. New York: The Classics of Western Spirituality; Paulist Press, 2001 pg. viii.

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