On “Cultural Memory”

primitive_magnetic_memory

Matthew C. Baldwin is Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Mars Hill University, where he teaches ancient history, Biblical literature and classical Biblical languages, and method and theory for religious studies. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Have you noticed the recent explosion of interest the category of “memory” among scholars of history, culture, and “religion”?

A WorldCat search of books published since 2000 in “su:Religion” turns up 522 works with the word “memory” in a title. Looking at peer reviewed journals, a search of ATLA turns up 61 articles published since 2000 in “SU Religion” including the title word “memory.” Continue reading

It’s Fall, Y’all!

14607907_10209067861586306_548589544_n-2

By Andie Alexander
Andie Alexander earned her B.A. in Religious Studies and History in 2012. She is completing her M.A. in Religious Studies at CU Boulder. Andie also works as the online Curator for the Culture on the Edge blog.

It’s that time of year again: the leaves are turning colors, the air is cooling down (in some places, at least), and pumpkin flavored/scented products are taking over. Growing up in Alabama, I always enjoyed (well, maybe not always) decorating for fall in late September/early October. Every year, my mom would get out the gourds, dried decorative corn, wreathes in orange, red, and yellow tones, and fall scented candles. It was always kind of exciting to mark the passing of summer to autumn, longing for days of cooler weather (if you’ve ever lived in Alabama, you know what I’m talking about).  Continue reading

Coming Attractions: REL’s Undergrad Research Symposium 2017

undergradresearchbooklet

Those who have been here for the past few years might know that REL instituted its own undergraduate research symposium — an annual event that’s now going into its fourth year. (This is quite apart from UA’s campus-wide event — a venue where REL students have also excelled, by the way.)

This year it will be organized, once again, by Prof. Bagger, and will take place on March 29, going from about 9:30 am until 12:30 pm, in Gorgas 205. It is part of our 50th anniversary celebrations — more on that soon….

If you’re interested in presenting your original research at this event, research carried out in an REL class, then the first step is for you to talk to your REL professor about how your paper could be revised for the occasion. Papers must be approx. 10 minutes in length.

There’ll be more news about this event in the future, but it’s never too early to start thinking about it. And we hope to make a booklet, like last year, with a sample of our students work, that we’ll once again mail out to people around campus and also to alumni and friends of the Department throughout the country (last year’s is pictured above) — as an example of the interesting work being done by our students.

Want a copy of last year’s booklet?
Just ask at the REL main office.

A Strategic Political Tool

townhallDid you watch the town hall meeting the other night, the second of this season’s Presidential debates?

Because scholars of religion are trained in the study of how rhetorics of privacy are used by social actors, I think we might have more to say about what’s going on than we at first realize. Continue reading

Call for Participants “…But What Do You Study?”: A NAASR Workshop on Succeeding in the Job Market

dogMichael Graziano is an instructor of Religious Studies at the University of Northern Iowa.

If the phrase “academic job market” makes you feel like the picture above you’re not alone. There’s no shortage of posts, essays, tweets, and columns dispensing advice on the job market: what to study, how to shape a CV, and what to say in a cover letter. The rules—both written and unwritten—can seem inscrutable. That’s in part why, for the second year in a row, NAASR will be hosting a no-cost workshop addressing the employment concerns of early career scholars as part of its 2016 Annual Meeting alongside the AAR/SBL in San Antonio. Continue reading

The Hegemony of Normalcy and the Academic Study of Religion

screen-shot-2016-edited

Daniel Jones is a graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies at Missouri State University. His research focuses on critical discourse analysis of the intersections of religion, nature, science, and humanity.  His research interests also pertain to theories of religion, culture, communication, and anthropology.

“The hegemony of normalcy is, like other hegemonic practices, so effective because of its invisibility.”-Lennard Davis

“We must… take account of the persistence of a model of interpretation and the inversion of its sense, if we wish to engage in a genuine critique of critique.”- Jacques Rancière

For those of us involved in the critical study of religion, we often find ourselves embroiled in debates about what the object of our study actually is. For we are a tribe of diverse scholars with diverse methods. I, for one, cherish Bruce Lincoln’s “anti-disciplinary” sensibilities, and nomadic approaches to scholarly inquiry (think Braidotti, Deleuze/Guattari).

How we each “find” data depends on the relationship between what we see and the discourse that precedes (and thereby makes possible) our observation. It shapes our view of “religion” as observational data—what it is, does, or where it might be absent or found. Continue reading