Congratulations Are in Order

CIMG4334REL loves to recognize award winners (have you seen our recent Honors Day post?), and so congratulations are in order for our own Prof. Theodore Trost, who was recently named as a College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Teaching Fellow. Ted is only the second REL professor to be given this honor since the award was established in 1986. Continue reading

What is Cool?

White_Matter_Connections_Obtained_with_MRI_TractographyReading about Steve Quartz, who studies what happens when people experience something “cool,” made me think of our department, not because we are cool (although that is a reasonable connection), but because the label “cool” has no set definition, much like the category “religion”. People assume that they know it when they see it, but no consistent definition is possible. Continue reading

Out in the Open: What Now?

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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.”

“Look, as sentient meat, however illusory our identities are, we craft those identities by making value judgments: everybody judges, all the time.” – Rust Cohle

Earlier, in the third blog post of this series, I wrote of a dichotomy between male and female spaces that has been manipulated so that the series can create room to address the philosophical musings Rust Cohle contemplates throughout the show. By containing these issues to an exclusively male space, the writers have limited further complexity to the show that would otherwise need to be addressed should women be included. This complexity will need to be dealt with in the second season of the show (airing in June) in order for it to continue to succeed. This is the teaser for the second season that was recently released.

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This Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Either

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Yesterday, I read an interesting report from Educause about “The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment.” The report starts by criticizing the now-conventional Learning Management Systems (LMS) that are deployed with ubiquity by higher education institutions. Some see LMSs as essential to education and LMS services are projected to be a $7.83 billion dollar industry in 2018.

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Putting Us in Our Place

Picture 11There’s an interesting story now making the rounds of the internet, in which Congressman Jeff Duncan (Republican, South Carolina, pictured above) is quoted as saying the following about the Roman Catholic Church’s recent recognition of Palestine as a state:

Picture 10Of course the deep irony is the speed with which a variety of politicians in the US cite their own religious beliefs as evidence for their political positions or how frequently they decry the so-called separation of church and state — when it suits them.

That’s what makes this quote news. Continue reading

Out in the Open: Certainty is Power

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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.”

“Transference of fear and self-loathing is an authoritarian vessel. It’s catharsis. He absorbs their dread with his narrative. Because of this, he’s effective at proportion to the amount of certainty he can project.” – Rust Cohle

HBO’s True Detective approaches existential questions of reality through lenses of structures of the human experience. So far in this blog series, perception and classification have been the main focus. Power, however, is a related concept, yet is also a performance of its own accord. Power can be situational or institutional, but it is always relational. In other words, power is exerted in a relationship. Power, certainly, is not static. Particularly in situational power relationships, power is continually bounced back and forth. This is a good thing, but it is something not really shown in True Detective. Take, for instance this encounter between Marty and a secretary in the Louisiana State Police Department.

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In the Limelight

rameynewslettersnipTo view an enlarged pdf file of the
pictured article about Dr. Ramey, click here.

Did you catch this article featuring Dr. Ramey and his research in the recent College of Arts and Sciences newsletter “Celebrating Excellence” (Vol. 5, No. 1)? If not, you can pick up a hard copy in our office, or click the link above to read it online.

The Department is Winning the Internet Today

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The Department has taken over the Marginalia Review of Books today. The popular site for reviews of work in religious studies is currently featuring interviews with both Prof. Merinda Simmons and me, Prof. Mike Altman.

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How Not to Be a Senior Scholar

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I remember almost two years ago when American historian Edmund Morgan died. I had read Morgan’s Visible Saints as part of my doctoral exams but, not being a historian by training or researching the colonial period, I hadn’t read much else of his work. But after his death I read a lot about Morgan. I read stories from his graduate students, from his colleagues, and from scholars who had come into contact with the man one way or another. It seemed like every historian of a certain generation had some story about him.

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