By Jared Powell
Jared Powell is a junior from Canton, Mississippi
majoring in English and Religious Studies.
A few months ago I wrote a post relating an episode of Seinfeld to issues of identity that are commonly discussed in our classes. After letting the initial fame and grandeur of my first post wear off, I decided that more connections could be made from the sitcom and the academic study of religion, particularly with regards to authenticity.
We love Thai food around here. But how do you know the food on your plate is actually Thai? What makes it Thai? The sign in the restaurant window? The “Thai tea?” What is “authentic Thai food?”
Well, the government of Thailand is sick and tired of your sad excuses for Thai food and they have a plan to ensure you never settle for fake Thai food again. It’s not just a plan, it’s a robot.Continue reading →
Joe Kimbrough graduated from the Department of Religious Studies in 2008. He went on to pursue graduate study in Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama, while maintaining his interests in the historical divisions between church and academy. You can read some of his other blog posts here.
Recently, I sought a diversion after working some overtime, so I stopped at the local Barnes & Noble. Such a decision was popular that evening since the store overflowed with customers like the University Supply Store on the first day of classes. After an initial scan of the store, I admired the efficiency of the Baristas as they ducked and dodged one another to complete orders as quickly as they were given without spilling a drop. Continue reading →
Last night REL hosted the second annual Zachary Daniel Day Memorial Lecture. Dr. Kelly J. Baker delivered an excellent presentation entitled, “”‘They’re coming to get you, Barbara!’: Zombie Apocalypses in American Religions.” If you missed the lecture or if you just want to revisit the details of the talk check out these tweets courtesy of our Twitter team.
We have Kelly Baker on campus, here to give the second annual Day Lecture. On the ride to Tuscaloosa form the Birmingham airport the other day, we got talking about the issue of contingent faculty in academia (a topic on which she has blogged) or, more specifically, about how the issue plays out in the academic study of religion. We talked about the American Academy of Religion’s current forays into the issue (e.g., a task force she is herself involved with, an academic relations sub-committee my own colleague here at Alabama, Ted Trost, is involved with, and even a workshop on “best practices” at the upcoming national conference in San Diego). As a onetime instructor (having held three consecutive one year contracts at the start of my career [1993-6]) and a longtime member of the AAR — the main professional association for US scholars of religion, but also the largest national association for scholars of religion in the world, hence it has an international reach — I’ve got a thought of two on what the leadership of this group ought to be considering before it decides what it wants to try to accomplish. Continue reading →
Relativism, and criticisms of it — “Oh, you’re a relativist!” — strike me as similar to claims of reductionism: the problem isn’t (as critics of reductionism claim) that one reduces one’s object of study to something other than what it already is, but that someone else reduces it to something different than what you want to boil it down to. That not a lot of so-called religious people are walking around spontaneously reporting that they’ve experienced a hierophany of a structure of human consciousness called the sacred (as one well known arch-nemisis of reductionists everywhere might have once phrased it) suggests that no matter what a scholar thinks lies at the base of religion, inasmuch as they think there’s a universal base they are all deeply invested in reducing complexity and difference to unity and simplicity. Continue reading →
REL 360 is our brand new, one-credit course entitled “Popular Culture/Public Humanities,” and organized by Prof. Rollens. Students who take this course watch a series of movies, attend a public lecture, and then have the opportunity to discuss the material together with faculty. They write short responses to their favorite events, one of which will eventually be published on our department’s blog.
To introduce the students to the phenomenon of academic blogging, their first assignment was to examine other posts on the department blog and tell us what they thought makes an effective post. We received some great and perceptive insights, and so we’ve distilled their responses down into these Top Ten Tips for Academic Blogging. If you’re ever asked to blog in a class, these tips would be a great place to start.