In Memoriam: Emeritus Professor Stephen Dunning

Stephen Northrop Dunning, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences, passed away on January 6th, 2024. He was 82.

The son of the late Harrison F. Dunning and Kathleen Mulligan Dunning, Steve was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the nearby suburbs. He was educated at the Haverford School, Yale College, Goddard College (B.A. 1964), and Harvard University (M.Div. 1969, Ph.D. 1977).

Steve taught Modern Religious Thought at the University of Pennsylvania for thirty-one years until his retirement in 2008. During that time he published three books: The Tongues of Men: Hegel and Hamann on Religious Language and History (Scholars Press, 1979), Kierkegaard's Dialectic of Inwardness: A Structural Analysis of the Theory of Stages (Princeton University Press, 1985), and Dialectical Readings: Three Types of Interpretation (Penn State Press, 1997). His work received support from the Danforth Foundation (1971–74), a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Fellowship (1974–76), and an NEH Fellowship for Independent Study and Research (1982–83).

Steve proudly celebrated the vocation of teaching and will be remembered for his dedication to his students’ learning. He taught courses in 19th century religious thought, spiritual autobiography, hermeneutics, new religious movements, and religious influences on organizational dynamics, among other topics. In 1993 he was awarded a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

At Penn and beyond, he was known for his kindness, devotion, and faith, as well as his sharp intellect and wry humor. He is survived by his wife Roxy, his brother Hap, his sister Kate, and his three children and five grandchildren.

Steve’s funeral mass will be celebrated on Saturday, January 20th at Daylesford Abbey, 220 S. Valley Rd, Paoli, PA 19301. The family will receive visitors at the church from 10-11am, and mass will begin at 11am. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests memorial donations be made to Philabundance (