Category: Relevance of Humanities

Posts in this category discuss the wider relevance of those tools, methods, and disciplines often grouped together and called the Humanities.


While the Wind’s on our Backs

Department Newsletter Cover

Yesterday I sent out our annual Department newsletter — it’s much smaller than it was 19 years ago, when we first started it. But back then the Department didn’t have a podcast or a Vimeo account where student-created content was regularly posted, let alone an Instagram account, so the newsletter was the main place where we could get some news out annually and represent the good work being done in the Department. So now, with frequent Facebook and Twitter updates, […]

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Advocating on Behalf of the Humanities

NHA logo

Judah Siekkinen is a graduating MA student in REL, who earned his BA from Youngstown State University (in Religious Studies & Geography). On March 15, 2022, I had the privilege to advocate for federal funding for the Humanities on behalf of the state of Alabama. The event was organized by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA). The NHA works to fund various Humanities organizations, most notably the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH). I advocated alongside a colleague from Samford University […]

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Kayfabe, or, Why a Scholar of Religion Might Be Interested in Pro Wrestling

As a scholar of religion, I’m interested in the term “belief.” I find it to be a very curious term. For example, why would 75,000 people fill a football stadium for two nights of Wrestlemania earlier this year to watch professional wrestling matches that they didn’t believe were “real”? Because pro wrestling is “fake,” right? No one believes it’s a real sport or a real competition, right? But yet enough people in the spend their time and money on these […]

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New Appointment in REL

The Department of Religious Studies has announced that Dr. Oleg Kyselov has been hired as a full-time Instructor for the 2022-23 academic year. A senior researcher at the H. S. Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy in Ukraine, Dr. Kyselov first joined REL in October 2021 as a visiting Fulbright Scholar — having been awarded this prestigious appointment for a 9 month visit. Now, instead of returning to Ukraine in July, he will be working in REL for the coming school year, […]

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Sabbatical Publications from Prof. Jacobs’ Desk

“Of the making of many books there is no end, and much study is a wearying of the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) So says the unknown author of Sefer Kohelet/the Book of Ecclesiastes, though both the Jewish and Christian religious traditions attribute it to Melekh Shlomo/King Solomon in his old age. (They also attribute, without evidence, Shir Ha-Shirim/Song of Songs to his youthful exuberance, and Sefer Mishlei/the Book of Proverbs, again without evidence, to his middle years.  Further complicating this picture, various […]

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It’s Honors Day Once Again

With just a few weeks of the semester left to complete we arrive at yet another Honors Day on campus — an opportunity to recognize accomplishments from the past school year, of students, faculty, and even alums. And, in lieu of an in-person event this year, REL has created another video to celebrate some achievements in the Department. At 10 a.m. this morning we hope that you can cheer on Jackson Foster, the student selected to receive REL’s annual Outstanding […]

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Honors Week 2022

It’s hard to believe that it’s early April already and another Honors Week has arrived. If you’ve been around the building you know that the banners are all up along the second floor (and also on part of the third, where REL now has 4, and soon 5, faculty offices). They date back 21 years, listing all of the names of all of our Silverstein Scholars, including the students awarded it this year: Hannah Alexander, Tyler Blair, Scarlett Ford, Jackson […]

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The 19th Annual Aronov Lecture

Join us for the 2022 Aronov Lecture with Prof. Andrea Jain, hosted by Prof. Steven Ramey. March 23, 2022 at 7pm (Central Time) The Aronov lecture will be virtual again this year as we transition back to normal operations and look forward to next year’s in-person event. Andrea R. Jain, Ph.D. is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University, Indianapolis, editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and author of Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture […]

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Who Believes in Conspiracy Theories?

Billboard stating "Birds Aren't Real"

  As a scholar in religious studies, my interest was piqued when a recent “The Daily” episode from the New York Times discussed community formation in Birds Aren’t Real, a movement / conspiracy theory that claims the government has replaced birds with drones to conduct widespread surveillance. The analysis of people who connect with others through Birds Aren’t Real had similarities to the ways that we discuss religions. Of course, connecting conspiracy theories and religion is not unique to me, […]

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What Can You Do With a Degree in Religion?

Al McGowen majored in Religious Studies (minoring in Social Work and English) while at UA in the late-1970s, after having served in the USAF during the Vietnam era. He went on to earn an M.Div. from Memphis Theological Seminary and did his clinical training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Al became a Fellow In The College of Chaplains, which later became the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), and a Board Certified Chaplain, a Clinical Member of the Association for […]

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