“Are You Irish?”

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By Kim Davis
Kim Davis (pictured on the right) earned her B.A. in French and Religious Studies from the University of Alabama in 2003. She went on to get her Masters in French Linguistics and Literature in 2007 and a Masters in Secondary Language Pedagogy in 2010, both from UA. Kim now teaches French and Mythology at Tuscaloosa County High School.

It’s a question I have heard a lot in the ten years I have been a performer and teacher of Irish step dancing, and it’s always the first question people ask as if the reason I am dancing is to celebrate my long lost Irish heritage. You can probably imagine their cognitive dissonance when I tell them that I don’t know if I have any Irish heritage, I’m not interested in finding out, and I dance because I simply enjoy dancing. (I should also note that if the person is particularly prickly about my response, I work in the fact that I would go back to France before Ireland. That really befuddles them.) Continue reading

Can Anything be a Ritual?

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By Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi

Becky is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and will graduate just as soon as she finishes writing her dissertation on the Virgin of Guadalupe. She joined the Department of Religious Studies as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Fall of 2012, and was immediately enamored by the charming atmosphere, lofty office space, and pencils with “religion in culture” printed on them.

Recently in Dr. Ramey’s “Introduction to Religions of the World” class he was covering a topic dear to my heart: rituals. After class, a student asked, “So, any prescribed action done on a regular basis would be a ritual?”  Good question! Would it? The line between what is a ritual and what is a mundane act can be fuzzy, especially when the concept is placed in a classroom setting. (Funny how the “fuzzyness” of those topics we discuss so confidently always comes to the surface in a classroom setting.) I tried to explain that maybe it depends on how important that action is to you, drawing on my extreme fondness for my morning cup of coffee. Continue reading

Hannah Goes to India, Part 1

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By Hannah Etchison

Hannah Etchison, a graduating senior majoring in Religious Studies with a minor in Asian Studies, is spending six weeks of this fall in India, staying primarily at a monastery where she will learn from the women and help them with their English. This is her first post about that experience.

I became enraptured with the study of Buddhism through a variety of experiences during my time in the Religious Studies department of the University of Alabama, but there was a specific experience that I have begun to revisit that truly captures what I find interesting about this ‘religion’. Continue reading

Rearview Mirror, Episode One

Have you seen our new series, of interviews with grads…?

Hocus Pocus

Picture 7Have you seen this clip making the rounds on the internet? Despite it being an ad for a movie (sigh — everything’s an ad for something, no?) and assuming that the unassuming people depicted in it really were unassuming, then their reactions raise a curious question for those who rather confidently distinguish between domains we call religion and science based on the latter being rational and modern and the former not. Continue reading

Isn’t That Special

Picture 5Did you see the post from last year at The Chronicle‘s site, on widespread dissatisfaction of mid-career profs? I’d not, so thanks to a Facebook friend for re-posting it the other day.

The researcher who conducted the survey of over 13,510 faculty comments: Continue reading

Ar-ti-facts on Vimeo

Have you checked out some of the REL faculty on Vimeo in the latest series ar·ti·facts, which has them talking about things in their offices…?

There’s more episodes to come…

Research and or versus Teaching?

researchingHave you been following higher ed issues in the UK? Apart from debates over the role of public vs. private education and over the cost of education, the most recent is a debate over the portion of time a professor spends doing research vs. teaching, with the presumption of some being that research takes time away from teaching. The assumption seems to be that universities are all about teaching and that research can sometimes (always?) get in the way. Continue reading

Bargain Experiences

consciousnessLike many scholars of religion in the US (or North American, or maybe even the world?), I got a personalized mass email this morning (you’d think that would be a contradiction in terms, no?), about one of (if not the, as an editor for one of the large publishers once phrased it to me) bestselling world religions textbooks that’s been on the market for the past decades: the 9th edition of the $135.20 (SRP*) Living Religions (now with the Oxy-boost learning power of MyReligionLab). I don’t know much about the author, Mary Pat Fisher, other than that she is a writer who travels (find some info on her here — scroll down), but she has the uncanny ability to — as the above email phrased it — capture the “personal consciousness” of devotees in the amber of her textbook’s pages. Who needs credentials when you can pull off that trick? Continue reading

We’re All Rugged Individualists

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A friend a Mizzou just sent me the link to this article today, in which Culture Studies is blamed for some of the problems currently confronting the Humanities — that we’re now all plodding through “jargon-infested jungles of heavy theory,” as this author puts it, while wielding his critical thinking machete. Continue reading