Vanessa DeGifis

Vanessa DeGifis

Associate Professor and Interim Chair

487 Manoogian
906 West Warren
Detroit, MI 48201 

Vanessa DeGifis

Professor DeGifis is an expert in Islamic intellectual culture and textual traditions, specializing in the historical reception and interpretation of Islam's foundational scripture, the Qur’an. Her research focuses on questions related to how Muslims apply the Qur'an to "real-world" problem-solving. Her book, Shaping a Qurʾānic Worldview, is the first sustained examination of references to the Qur’an in the politics of the Caliphate in light of classical Arabic rhetorical theories, stimulating broader considerations of the practical impact of scriptural themes in public life. With a sustained interest in the practical dimensions of religious thought, her recent work also explores the intersections of religion and health care.

Professor DeGifis serves on the editorial board of the Mamluk Studies Review, the Publications and Research Committee of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA), and is founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of the International Qur'anic Studies Association (JIQSA).

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  •  Islamic text traditions; Qur'an and Tafsir; Arabic-Islamic rhetoric; the Caliphate.


  • Ph.D. with honors, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago, 2008
  • M.A., University of Chicago, 2001
  • B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1999

Awards and grants

  •  Provost's Fellowship for Student Success, WSU, 2016 

     Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, WSU, 2015

Courses taught

Introduction to Islamic Civilization (NE 2000; 3 cr.)

Age of Islamic Empires (HIS 1800/NE 2030; 3 cr.)

Muhammad: Life of the Prophet (NE 3320; 3 cr.)

Religion and Society (NE 6500; 3 cr.)

Islam and the West (NE 7100; 3 cr.) 

Qur'an: History and Interpretation (NE 5300/7300; 3 cr.)