Union Theological Seminary Student Life


Yolanda Pierce

Yolanda Pierce

Visiting Associate Professor of the African American Religion and Literature




Yolanda Pierce is an Associate Professor of African American Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary.  She holds a Ph.D. and a M.A. degree from Cornell University and undergraduate degrees from Princeton University.  Pierce’s research specialties include African American Religious History; Womanist Theology; African American Literature; and 19th Century American Culture.  

Pierce’s most recent book, Hell Without Fires: Slavery, Christianity & the African American Spiritual Narrative, argues for the existence and retention of certain African religious practices and ceremonies in slave culture, and the transformation of traditional Western Christian practices by enslaved people.  She is currently at work on a book, “Religious Ecstasy & African American Cultural Expression,” which examines the contemporary practice of religious rituals including glossolalia, divine healing, and spirit possession.  

Pierce is a member of various professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Historical Association.  She has been the recipient of numerous honors, including fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Pew Foundation.  

In addition to her teaching and research, Yolanda Pierce is a minister, dedicated mentor, and community activist.  She believes that teaching and scholarship are meaningful only if they truly enhance people’s daily lives and thus she works tirelessly to bridge the gaps between pulpit, pew, and academy.  A native New Yorker and ordained minister, Pierce was raised in the Church of God in Christ and still maintains a close connection to her Pentecostal roots.


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