Mélena Laudig Joins Princeton Seminary's Faculty Fall 2025 - Princeton Theological Seminary
Mae Headshot

Princeton Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the appointment of Mélena “Mae” Laudig as Assistant Professor of African American Christianity. Laudig will join the faculty in fall 2025 after completing the doctoral program in the Department of Religion at Princeton University. Before beginning her position at Princeton Seminary, she will be conducting research during the 2024-2025 academic year through the support of the Richard S. Dunn Fellowship at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and the Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship at the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving.

“Mélena Laudig’s appointment to our faculty heralds a new chapter of dynamic scholarship regarding the intersections of religion and race in the antebellum South,” says Jonathan Lee Walton, President of Princeton Theological Seminary. “Her innovative research on childhood, religious imagination, and Christian reform movements in the 19th century promises to enrich our academic community and transform the field of African American religious history.”

Laudig holds an MA in religion as well as graduate certificates in African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies from Princeton University, and a BA in religious studies from Yale University. Her research and teaching are broadly focused on early African American religious history, and she’s currently at work on a research project that documents the history of African American childhood and religion during the periods of slavery and freedom. “Across my work, I aim to illuminate Black children as critical yet largely underrecognized religious thinkers and practitioners,” she says. “I also hope my research on the distinct vulnerabilities that Black children faced in the nineteenth century might provide historical context for some of the social dilemmas Black children face today, such as adultification and criminalization.”

Alongside her teaching and research, Laudig holds a deep commitment to making higher education spaces more accessible and supportive for students of all backgrounds. Over the past several years, she has spearheaded a number of equity and inclusion efforts, including co-founding a wellness collective that seeks to increase marginalized students’ access to justice-informed and culturally nuanced approaches to holistic health.

As an adjunct instructor for Princeton Seminary during the fall 2023 semester, Laudig taught African American Religious History. In her new role, she looks forward to creating courses focused on various themes and issues surrounding the long history of African American religion and culture, particularly courses that concentrate on the colonial and antebellum periods. Potential course topics include the connections between chattel slavery, empire, colonization, and religion in the early United States, courses that trace African American women’s religious engagement, and courses that examine historical constructions of race, childhood, and religion in the United States.

“I am eager to join this community of faculty members, students, and staff who have already been thoughtfully drawing attention to the institution’s historical connections to US slavery and West African colonization, and I hope to help sustain and facilitate new types of dialogue through my own courses and programming,” Laudig says. “It will be a joy to get to know the community and to engage with such inspiring colleagues and students.”