Just after Spring Break, the first American Examples Workshop will be hosted at the University of Alabama, funded jointly by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Religious Studies. Held here in Tuscaloosa and organized by Prof. Michael Altman, the goal of the workshop is to rethink the way religion in America is studied and taught.
The workshop targets early career, non-tenured academics, with a hope that participants — selected by the organizing committee from a pool of applicants — will be able to apply their work on the study of religion in America well beyond the scope of American history. As the title makes clear, the challenge is to see work on religion in American as one among many places to think through wider problems in the study of religion.
Six participants (including Prof. Emily Crews of UA’s Department of Religious Studies), will meet for a weekend in March and then also once more at the annual NAASR and AAR meeting this Fall. Also from the Department, Professors Steven Ramey and Vaia Touna will work alongside Prof. Altman as mentors for the workshop; unlike Prof. Altman, neither specializes in religion in America, making them ideal candidates to help press the workshop’s participants not only on the implications of their work for understanding other historical or cultural and national domains but also on drawing upon work carried out in other areas of the field to better understand religion in America.
As described on its website:
The group will be working on a collaborative volume based on their shared discussions and resulting work — with pre-distributed drafts of their current work shared in advance of the meeting. The collection of papers will eventually be published as a book, perhaps the first of an ongoing series.
At present, the Department (with Prof. Altman as the PI) has a large grant application being considered that, if awarded, would make it possible to enlarge the annual workshop, with a new group of participants coming to Tuscaloosa three times each year, hosting it for several more years.
The Department looks forward to holding the first American Examples workshop and seeing its faculty (and the M.A. students who elect to attend so as to eavesdrop on the group’s discussions) contribute to all parts of the project.