Self, Society, & Religion

rel237fall2015Prof. McCutcheon’s Fall 2015 REL 237 will introduce and explore the application of social theory in the study of religion by reading and then applying the work of Prof. Bruce Lincoln, at the University of Chicago (and REL’s onetime Aronov Lecturer), to a specific episode of what we will come to term “affinity and estrangement” as represented in Dennis Covington’s well-known book, Salvation on Sand Mountain.

The class is limited to 30 students.

A Good Book with Prof. Loewen


The seventh episode in our A Good Book series is now on Vimeo! This video features our newest faculty member, Prof. Nathan Loewen and his discussion of Jacques Derrida’s book Monolingualism of the Other.

Want to learn more about Prof. Loewen? Check out an interview blog post here, and a video here.

A Good Book with Prof. Loewen from UA Religious Studies.

Out in the Open: We All Fit a Certain Category


Sarah Griswold is a junior double majoring in Mathematics and Religious Studies. She spends her “free time” analyzing her favorite shows on Netflix, which of course winds up ruining them. She is currently enrolled in an independent study with Dr. Simmons where she is analyzing the popular HBO series “True Detective.”

“You know I’ve seen all the different types. We all fit a certain category.” – Marty Hart

One of the great things about the Religious Studies department here at UA is that you can study pretty much whatever you want and get credit for it. Case in point: this blog series makes up part of the work I’m doing for an independent study I’m doing this semester with Dr. Merinda Simmons about the HBO series True Detective. Yes, you read that correctly, I’m studying a TV show. More particularly, I’m studying classifications of race, religion, and especially gender (amongst other categories that pop up from time to time) in entertainment, with True Detective being my main case study.

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Honors Day is Coming Soon

Picture 2Yes, it’s time to put the banners up! And that can only mean one thing: Honors Day is right around the corner.

So we hope you’ll join us — all REL majors, minors and Judaic Studies minors are invited to the Department’s Honors Day reception, along with their guests. As always, it takes place immediately after the A&S Convocation, on Friday, April 3. The College’s annual event goes from 10 am until about 11:30 so we’ll see you for the REL reception as soon as the A&S event finishes (we’ll likely start our event around noon).

And, like last year, it’ll be held in the main lobby of Alumni Hall (#6302 on the map) near Hotel Capstone, right next door to the Bryant Conference Center, and just across from Moody Music Hall (where the A&S event takes place).

Picture 3There’ll be some awards, some surprises, and, of course, some great food. Does it go without saying there will also be some stellar conversation?

So we’ll see you next Friday; put on your fancy dress clothes and smile when Betty snaps your picture!

smileSee some pictures from last year’s event.

“Tonight We May be Showmen; Tomorrow We’ll be Servicing Your Cars”

Picture 3A few days ago I was online discussing with a grad of our Department how advertising works in media — i.e., how it is not difficult to understand the content of, say, a newspaper, website, or television as simply serving the role of bringing the eyes of readers or viewers (in fact, let’s just call them consumers) to the ads which finance the medium in the first place. (In this day and age of cable fees and Netflix or Hulu subscriptions it’s likely hard for some to believe that TV was originally just cast broadly, like seeds [aka “broadcast”] over the so-called airwaves for free and anyone with an antenna and receiver [that is, a television set] got it for free.) It’s an old analysis, of course, one I first recall thinking about in earnest when watching, “Manufacturing Consent” back when the film first came out, in Toronto, back in 1992. (The entire documentary is here.)

To sum it up we can quote Chomsky himself: Continue reading

On The Passive Voice and Nonexistent Agency

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Thomas J. Whitley is a Ph.D. Candidate in Religions of Western Antiquity at Florida State University where he studies sexual slander and identity formation in early Christianity. You can read more of his work on his blog and you can follow him on Twitter for the daily minutiae of his life @thomaswhitley.

“C.I.A. Funds Found Their Way Into Al Qaeda Coffers” — so read the New York Times notification I received Saturday. The circumlocution was amusing. “Found their way” — or “ended up” as this NYT article puts it — is about as neutral a way of stating this as possible. The article is careful not to assign blame in its telling of how the money from the C.I.A. was used to pay off Al Qaeda in 2010. Continue reading

Advising Season Soon Arrives

IMG_0384Now that spring break is here, we know our students have only one thing on their minds — Fall classes!

So, when classes resume after the break, we will begin our advising period in the Department; REL majors and minors, and JS minors, will need to set up a meeting with Dr. Trost (filling in for Dr. Jacobs, who is on sabbatical this semester) on the clipboard in the main office.

Wondering what classes we’re offering? Well take a look here (PDF) at the newly posted course list for Fall 2015, complete with descriptions! The flyers are hot off the press, so pick up one in the main office when you’re back from Spring break.