Things You Didn’t Think You’d Learn in Grad School: Coding

Students working in REL 503

Erica Bennett, now in her second and final year of the REL MA, is from Louisiana and earned her undergraduate degree from Millsaps College. Working with Prof. Touna as her supervisor, she is also a T.A. this semester for Prof. Simmons’s REL 100 and Prof. Altman’s research assistant on the American Examples grant. She is interested in studying new religious movements.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that our society revolves around, and cannot function without, technology. From Netflix party hangouts and social media to collaborative online work spaces and daily Zoom meetings, technology seems to have become even more integrated into our daily lives. While people use the internet, websites, apps, and other technologies every day, most do not know how the internet works, that it is physical resource, or that anyone can learn to code or program. One reason I decided to enroll in the Religion in Culture MA program at the University of Alabama was the emphasis on helping students grow their digital humanities skills. Before my first class at UA, I expected to learn skills that would be helpful for digital projects like making podcasts, videos, and websites to distribute my research to a wider public. I did learn those skills (thank you REL 502!) and I get to practice them on a regular basis. What I did not expect to learn, and surprisingly really enjoy, was how to code and program to assist in my research efforts and better understand the digital world we live in. Continue reading

Welcome to the REL Digital Lab (RELdl)

Annoucement of the REL Digital Lab on new website.

Visit the RELdl Webpage: http://digitallab.religion.ua.edu/

The new school year has started and the REL Digital Lab is open for business, under the leadership of Prof. Jeri Wieringa.

Visit the new RELdl website to learn more about the Lab and how it will specifically support REL teaching and collaborative research.

Note: the RELdl is not an open lab (i.e., for checking email, writing/printing essays, etc.).

Welcome Back!

It's been quite a year...Where did the last year go…?

The new routine of remote and, when in-person, masked and socially distanced classes was so different from what we all were used to that our sense of time has really been thrown off; for while it may seem like an eternity ago, the start of the Fall 2020 semester, not to mention the swift move to remote classes to complete the Spring 2020 semester, also seems like it was just yesterday.

And suddenly it’s the summer of 2021. And then it’s the third week of August. And then…

We’re hopeful that everyone stayed as safe and healthy as possible this past 18 months, that you’re all taking the risks and dangers of the COVID virus’s variants seriously, and that we’ll again see you in-person on the balcony for the Fall 2021 semester.

As always, there will be peanuts — but, sadly, they’re not for you.

REL Update: Start of Fall 2021

Crimson-colored mask

With the start of Fall 2021 classes just a couple weeks away it’s time to send out an update to ensure that everyone in REL is on the same page for how the semester will start.

New Mask Mandate

If you have missed it, UA recently announced implementing a mask mandate on campus, to be regularly reassessed throughout the semester. All classrooms are back to full capacity, however, and the plexiglass has been removed from classrooms, though stand-alone plexiglass barriers are, we believe, still present at the lectern/multimedia podium of many classes. Also, COVID accommodations — unless it rises to the level of a disability, and that is determined by making an application to UA’s Office of Disability Services (ODS) — have been discontinued.

Read the new policy and find more info.

This means that masks are required of all students in REL, whether you are in the Department to visit the main office or see a faculty member or attending any of its classes. Continue reading

UA’s Fall 2021 Operations Plan

UA COVID-19 Update IconBelow is the content (complete with links) of an email sent to all UA faculty and staff on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, discussing the university’s expectations around UA’s return to classes in the Fall 2021 semester.

REL faculty and staff have taken the risks of COVID-19 very seriously since early in 2020 and we hope that all students, as they return to campus, comply with the various requirements and recommendations outlined below.

___________________________

The University of Alabama System released today its Fall 2021 Operations Plan. In accordance with the System plan, The University of Alabama updated its COVID-19 plan with guidelines for Fall 2021. Widespread utilization of the life-saving COVID vaccine has helped UA officials plan for our Fall semester experience. Every member of our campus community is strongly encouraged to be vaccinated to keep you and our campus safe and Protect Our HerdContinue reading

The Inquisition’s Baggage

Torturer and rack from a movie about the Inquistion

Christopher Hurt is an REL alum who works in Los Angeles. He is best known for his work with the rock ‘n’ roll group, Jamestown Pagans.

Have you ever seen Inquisición (film, 1977)? If you’re a lover of period-piece horror movies, like I am, then you’ll want to check it out. Mondo Macabro has a Blu-ray release that is standout. The subject matter calls to mind this data…

Several years into his papacy John Paul II initiated a commission to study the Inquisition in the hopes of creating a sort of tally for the Catholic Church. The thinking, it seems, was that by initiating a closer examination of the wrongdoings of the past, and formally acknowledging them, it would leave one less strike against the institution, which had already done this with the Galileo incident. Continue reading

Fulbright Scholar Joining REL for 2021-22

Oleg Kyselov

We’re very pleased to announce that Dr. Oleg Kyselov, a senior researcher at the H. S. Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy in Ukraine, will be joining REL as a Fulbright Scholar from October until June.

His own teaching covers a broad area, including the sociology and geography of religion along with a variety of topics in the history of religions, globalization, and methodologies. Among his most recent publications are: “Interaction Between Religion and Science: Comprehension of Ukrainian Scientific Atheists” in Studia Sociologica 12/1 (2020) and his co-authored chapter, “Atheism in the Context of the Secularization and Desecularization of Ukraine in the 20th Century” in Freethought and Atheism in Central and Eastern Europe: The Development of Secularity and Non-Religion, 284-309 (Routledge, 2020).

While at UA he aims to become more conversant with recent developments in the academic study of religion as practiced in the US, looking for possible points of contact with the field as it has developed in the Ukraine. He will also take advantage of his time in the US to travel and meet with a variety of other scholars of religion throughout the country.

We’re very pleased to host Dr. Kyselov and look forward to conversations on the balcony, more than likely a variety of class visits, and also to learning far more about how the field has taken shape in Ukraine.

What’s My Line…?

Title card from video saying: but it didn't go as planned.

A little while back, we asked our first year M.A. students to tell us what they were working on — you know, what they were reading, something about their classes, or other things that they were doing that were related to their degree. It was at the height of the pandemic here in the US, so, whether in their bubbles or out in the fresh air with classmates, they got to work and did a little filming, sending us the results.

To say that our grad students read widely and tackle a variety of timely and tough topics goes without saying. But recording it all in one take…? Well, that’s even tougher.

As we say at the end, we’re pretty proud that all of our students, in both the BA and MA degrees, rose to the occasion during a challenging year. And yes: we’re hoping to see everyone’s maskless and healthy face in our classrooms in the Fall.

Thanks to Savannah Aldridge,
working in our main office this summer,
for putting this all together.

Announcing the RELdl

Late 1950s computing lab

There’s some renovations starting to happen in REL this summer — we’re transforming the Department library into an REL digital lab (RELdl) that Prof. Jeri Wieringa (who joined REL a year ago and who works directly in this area) will direct and under whose auspices all digital work in REL can take place. Continue reading

New MA Students Coming to REL

three incoming MA students

We’re very pleased to announce that we have three incoming MA students, all beginning Fall 2021, and who are joining 10 students already in the program.

Those new students are (top left, going counterclockwise): Katie Johnson, Ciara Eichhorst, and Phoebe Duke-Mosier; you can learn more about their interests and backgrounds by visiting our grad student directory.

We’re also very pleased that all 12 of the full-time students in our graduate program will each be fully funded for 2021-22, from receiving such awards as UA’s prestigious Francko Graduate Fellowship along with competitive Graduate Council Fellowships to working as full Graduate Teaching Assistants, or taking on the role of Graduate Research Assistant, such as with the Department’s American Examples initiative or working elsewhere on campus.