Getting to Know RSSA

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The REL film crew just caught up with the officers of the Religious Studies Student Association to learn what the club is all about. Watch the video to see what they had to say–trust us, you don’t want to miss out on the fun events going on around here!

RSSA Student Video from UA Religious Studies.

REL Majors Present Research at the 2016 UCRA Conference

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Wednesday is the 2016 UA Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Conference (UCRA) and we are proud to have 3 REL majors presenting their research this year: Aubrey (Liz) Long, Sarah Griswold, and Sierra Lawson. Here are their abstracts:

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.52.42 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.51.52 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.59.54 PMThe full program for the conference is available here. Great work!

Democracy is Risky

Picture 9A couple years ago I gave a talk at Lehigh University (a lecture that became chapter 8 in a book I published not long after). The topic was on my frustration with how scholars of religion — because they define their object of study as a universally present and deeply meaningful human impulse — often assume their research is always relevant. As evidence I drew on a recent national conference where scholars of religion were encouraged to think about how their work on this or that ritual or text could contribute to solving the problem of climate change. I could just as easily have cited the program for that very annual conference (something I wrote on long ago, actually), and how the “religion and…” rubric was infinitely variable (e.g., Religion and Literature, Religion and Film, Religion and Science, Religion and Politics, Religion and Food, etc., etc.); we often presume our object of study always to be relevant because we think that it somehow points outside of, and thus before and beyond, the happenstance of history. So it is assumed to play a role in anything that happens.

The problem, though, is that we also claim to be historians, e.g., historians of religion — but, defining religion in this way, makes us historians who study the transcendental. And that’s very unhistorial if you ask me. Continue reading

Join Us for the 2016 Aronov Lecture Tomorrow at 7pm: “Democracy in Black — The Value Gap”

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Our annual Aronov Lecture will be held tomorrow night at 7pm in Lloyd Hall room 38. We are very pleased to welcome Eddie S. Glaude from Princeton University. His lecture is titled “Democracy in Black — The Value Gap.” You can find out more about Prof. Glaude’s work in this recent Salon interview about his newest book, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul.

And be sure to follow the conversation, comments, questions, and live-tweeting of the Aronov lecture on our Facebook page and on Twitter at #Aronov2016.

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“I belong to no religion. My religion is love”: Sufism, Religious Studies, and Love

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By now you’ve probably heard about the theme for next year’s American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual meeting, revolutionary love, and the controversy surrounding it.  Some of my colleagues, Russell McCutcheon and Merinda Simmons, have written about it, and the Bulletin for the Study of Religion is posting a series of responses.

Revolutionary love, or any kind of love, has not been considered the purview or state of being of all people.  Scholars have played an important role in using ideas about love to reassert feelings of estrangement, difference, and exclusion.  Europeans in the 18th and 19th century used love and its connection to Sufism to create distinctions between Western civilization, European culture, colonial society, and the Islamic tradition.  More recently, both Muslims and non-Muslims have used the idea of Sufism and its connection to love to distinguish between authentic and inauthentic Muslims. By uncritically adopting the theme of Revolutionary Love and positing love as universal, the AAR has overlooked how “love” has been and continues to be used to construct “the West” through the exclusion of Muslims. Continue reading

The Teacher Who Went on to Facebook and Came Back with an Insight

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By Kim Davis
Kim earned her B.A. in Religious Studies and French from
the University of Alabama in 2003. She went on to earn 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.

The other morning I logged onto Facebook for some mindless scrolling while I drank my morning coffee. A post by Craig Martin from Culture on the Edge caught my attention.

The following conversation then ensued. Continue reading

Check Out All of Our Class Blogs

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Did you notice the new tab on the menu at the top of our blog? That one up there that says “Class Blogs?” Well, many of our classes in REL use blogs so students can use their critical thinking skills in public. That new “Class Blogs” tab takes you to page where you can find all of our class blogs from this year’s REL 490 course to an Honors History of Religions in America course in Spring 2014. Check out the all of our great student content!

 

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Jason C. Bivins Will Be Our 2016 Day Lecturer

9780190230913We are happy to announce that Jason C. Bivins, Professor of Religious Studies at North Carolina State University, will be our 2016 Day Lecturer this coming fall. Prof. Bivins is a specialist in religion and American culture with a focus on the intersection of religion and politics in the United States after 1900. Most recently, he is the author of Spirits Rejoice! Jazz and American Religion, where he explores the relationship between American religion and American music, and the places where religion and jazz have overlapped. Stay tuned for more information about this year’s Day Lecture as we get closer to the fall!

10 Tips for Attending an Academic Conference from REL Majors

This past weekend a group of REL faculty and majors traveled down I-20 to Atlanta to attend the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR), the regional meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Through the magic of Twitter, here is a list of tips for the next time you attend an academic conference.

1. Be prepared for the trip.

2.  Let everyone know you’ve arrived.

3. Work the registration desk to make friends.

4. Get a name tag.

5.  Do some (social) networking.

6. Present a paper.

..but remember to stay cool.

7. Ask questions at panels.

8. Enjoy a meal with friends.

9. Take advantage of the hotel amenities. 

10. Get some rest on the way home.

We’re really proud of how well these folks represented REL in ATL!

Yep.

 

 

“But as a businessman, there are things you do for business…”

Picture 5If you’re interested in how people use rhetoric or how they divide and classify social space in order to make a more persuasive image of the world that’s conducive to their interests, then give a listen to this interview that aired yesterday morning. (Or click here if the player doesn’t load properly.) Continue reading