Undergrad Research is on the Agenda

Join us tomorrow morning, Friday Feb. 22, for our 6th annual undergrad research symposium. It starts at 9 a.m. in room 205 of Gorgas Library (on the main floor). We have 6 students presenting their own original work (mentored by REL faculty), on two panels, and two of our M.A. students are presiding.

6th Annual Undergrad Research Symposium

REL is again hosting its undergrad research symposium, held this year in
Gorgas Library 205, so there’s plenty of room to join us and hear some of the research that our students have been doing.

It starts at 9:00 am Friday, February 22. There will be two panels (9-10 and 10:15-11:15), both of which are chaired by M.A. students in the Departments.
And Prof. Crews is our host.

Pictured above: the 5th annual event, held at the University Club in Spring 2018

 

New Hire in REL at UA

The Department of Religious Studies, in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Alabama, is very pleased to announce the hire of Dr. Edith Szanto. She begins at UA in the Fall semester of 2019, as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, with expertise in the area of social theory of Islam.

Dr. Szanto has been teaching in the Social Sciences Department at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, since 2011. She received her M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Toronto in 2012.  She has extensive international experience and works on questions relating to bodies, violence, politics, and Islam in Syria and Iraq.  She has also worked on Twelver Shi’i women’s seminaries, self-flagellation rituals, ecstatic Sufi practices, spiritual healing, and Middle Eastern television. Most recently, she has been studying religious reactions to ISIS in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Dr. Szanto will be teaching REL 236 in the Fall, our Core Curriculum intro course on Islam, and will be available to supervise M.A. students interested in using the study of Islam as a site to explore the application of social theory in the study of religion. She will also be assisting with the development of cross-disciplinary Mid-East Studies at UA.

We are very pleased to be adding Dr. Szanto to the faculty.

Prof. Altman Works with APAEP

Religious Studies Professor Michael Altman will be teaching with the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project (APAEP) once a week this spring semester. He will be leading a course titled Religion in America to incarcerated students at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, AL. Continue reading

Alex Ates Wins SETC Young Scholars Award

Last semester Prof. Merinda Simmons mentored graduate student Alex Ates in an independent study — a program designed to help students earn credit while researching specific material that typically manifests into a conclusive project.

Alex, an MFA student in the Department of Theatre and Dance, compiled data on the Free Southern Theater before writing a compelling essay on the groups’ confrontation of “American moral contradictoriness”. The community theater group was founded in Mississippi in 1963 with the goal of combining art and politics on stage to promote social justice across the American South.

At the end of the semester, Alex compiled his research in a paper titled, “Powerful Contradictions on Charged Stages: Theater Revolutions in the Jim Crow South”. The project recently led to his selection as the 2019 Graduate Student Winner of the Southeastern Theatre Conference Young Scholar Award. He will present his paper at the 2019 SETC Young Scholars Panel Presentation in Nashville, TN.

Alex’s Independent Study with Prof. Simmons was not his first time working with the Religious Studies Department. Last year, he consulted with another faculty member, Prof. Altman, before successfully directing The Christians in the fall semesterHis career as a graduate student at the University of Alabama and his recent nomination as the SETC Young Scholar Award Winner demonstrates his skill for researching, writing, directing, and acting.

Congratulations Alex

iamalexates.com

 

A New Honors Day Tradition

We have a new award to announce, which will be given out each year at Honors Day on the balcony: the Alum Liaison Committee Award.

This award (funded by alums and the Department) will recognize up to four students (one Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior) who submit a short essay (500 words) on their experiences in our classes, e.g., how they found us, what surprised them about the field, and interesting uses to which it might be put. It’s open to any student in an REL course and each award comes with a $100 prize.

The members of our Alum Liaison Committee will be reading the essays and making the decisions, so please visit the page (linked above) for this new award to learn more and consider making your own submission in this inaugural year (due March 1).

Coming Attractions

It’s going to be another busy semester around Manly Hall — REL has some guests coming and things are happening.

Along with three candidates visiting campus this month for a tenure-track faculty position that we hope to fill for Fall 2019 (devoted to social theory of Islam) — and we’ll be talking to some students about joining each interviewee for a chat over coffee — we have Prof. Tim Jensen flying in from Denmark to deliver the 17th annual Aronov Lecture and REL grad Chris Hurt is due from California to join us at another Grad Tales event, hosted again by our Alum Liaison Committee. (Chris, on keyboards and vocals, is one half of the group Jamestown Pagans.) With our alums in mind, we should also mention that they’ll again be offering a careers workshop later this semester, with some practical advice that you’ll find useful, no matter what you’re aiming to do after university. And, as part of the College of Arts & Sciences’ Alabama/Greece Initiative, Prof. Touna will be hosting a professor from Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, for a week — he’ll be offering guest lectures and making some class visits — and a group of early career scholars are visiting campus as part of our new American Examples working group, organized by Prof. Altman and funded by both the Department and the College of A&S. (Did we say that we’re applying for a fairly large external grant to make this an annual event…?)

Did we mention the sixth annual honors research symposium at the end of February? You should talk to an REL prof — asap — if you have a paper you’d like to revise and present.

Of course Honors Day is also coming, the first Friday of April, with the Department’s annual ceremony on the balcony around noon (immediately following the completion of the A&S event at Moody Music Hall). Oh, and we’ve got something new to announce about Honors Day but we’ll leave that for a separate notice.

So welcome back and we hope you have a great Spring semester.

The Adventures of Prof. Trost

Professors Trost (Religious Studies, New College), Summers (Modern Languages and Classics, Greece Initiative), and Roach (New College) near Thessaloniki, Greece.

As the weather gets colder, reminiscing on warm adventures becomes enticing. Last week, Prof. Ted Trost sat down to do just that — Taking a minute to share stories of his European travels from this past summer.

After years traversing the country and world for both business and pleasure, Dr. Trost settled in at The University of Alabama. Currently, he works with students in the Department of Religious Studies and New College.  Before working in academia though, Trost worked as a flight attendant for Pan-American World Airlines, prompting a life-long passion for travel. After 9 years of navigating airways, Prof. Trost has continued to explore new places, even spending a year on sabbatical in England. Most recently, he combined his academic work with globetrotting as he and his family took a trip across parts of Europe. Continue reading

A Visit to Montgomery Museums

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL commemorates all documented cases of lynching in America. Each metal pillar is engraved with the victims’ names and the county where the crime took place.

Several weeks ago, along with Prof. Ramey, Caity Bell, Savanah Finver, and Keely McMurray (all first-year MA students in the study of religion) took the two hour drive to Montgomery, AL, to explore a variety of historical representations in museums and memorials. They began their tour at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice before visiting the Legacy Museum and finishing at the Alabama State Archives Museum. Continue reading

The Book Event – As Told in Pictures

Last Thursday, the Religious Studies Department hosted its second annual book event at Ernest & Hadley Booksellers in downtown Tuscaloosa. The refreshments and cozy ambiance created the perfect atmosphere for any book lover to mingle and browse the store. Professors, students, and even Tuscaloosa locals joined us to discuss Prof. Ramey‘s and Prof. Loewen‘s recently published books.

Continue reading