Examples: Why Would a Religious Studies Scholar Study That?

EXAMPLES: A Study Religion & American Examples Production

We are really cranking out the podcast series on our Study Religion podcast here in REL. One of our latest podcast series is an American Examples and RELdl production hosted by Religion in Culture MA student and American Examples fellow, Ciara Eichhorst. It’s called “Examples” and it’s a podcast that explores what we have come to call the “examples approach” to studying religion in culture. The examples approach sees specific case studies of religion in America as opportunities for investigating larger theoretical questions. It’s what we’ve done in the essays in volume 1 of American Examples: New Conversations about Religion and the forthcoming volume 2. (There are two more volumes on the way, btw.) But now we are doing that in a podcast where Ciara sits down with scholars who are part of the American Examples project and gets them talking about their examples and what they do with them.

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Announcing Uncivil Religion: A Digital Resource about Religion in the January 6 Attack on the Capitol

A screenshot of the Uncivil Religion home page

Following announcements from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the University of Alabama, the Department of Religious Studies is proud to announce a new digital resource produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Center for the Understanding of Religion in American History

Uncivil Religion uses publicly available digital media to trace the threads of religious symbols, ideas, discourses, and identities throughout the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Launching just days before the one year anniversary, the project includes a series of interpretive essays and a curated set of galleries of digital media that represent the various ways religion showed up that day. The essays, all of which were written by internationally recognized scholars of religion and politics, use individual examples of digital media from January 6 to explore the larger role of religion before, during, and after that day.

Prof. Mike Altman, from UA’s Department of Religious Studies, and Dr. Jerome Copulsky, a consulting scholar at the National Museum of American History’s Center for the Understanding of Religion in American History, are the project’s directors. Dr. Peter Manseau, Director of the Center for Understanding Religion in American History at the National Museum of American History, serves as project advisor. Religious Studies graduate students from the REL 502: Public Humanities and Religious Studies course in the Fall of 2021 provided research and digital expertise to the project. The REL Digital Lab, within the Department of Religious Studies, and eTech, within the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama, provided additional technical resources, consulting, and support.

Uncivil Religion is an exciting new collaboration between the museum and the department and we are hopeful that it can grow. It is a resource that will be of value to teachers, scholars, and anyone interested in better understanding the role of religion in politics.

RELdl’s Tools Facilitate Better Conversations Virtual Guests: Perhaps “OWL” Being See You at REL?

What is this?

Have you tried using a basic computer web camera to capture conversations with a classroom? Prof. Loewen has experimented with dozens of ultimately unsatisfactory methods since 2009. With the arrival of the REL digital lab in 2021, things have changed. Continue reading

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

Computational Thinking in the Humanities

Woman in 1955 working at an early, large computer

As previously announced, REL has established its own digital lab (RELdl), directed by Prof. Jeri Wieringa. The lab is an outgrowth of REL’s long investment in integrating computing skills into the life of the Department and its degree programs; among our goals is to see the lab inject energy and expertise into a variety of collaborative research projects and curricular initiatives. 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.).

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