REL News: Jackson Foster Awarded Marshall Scholarship

Jackson Foster, REL Major

Established in the UK by the passage of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Act, the Marshall Scholarship annually finances up to fifty young Americans to study for a degree in any field in the United Kingdom. Chosen for their leadership and ambassadorial potential, as well as their academic ability, Marshall Scholars are a living embodiment of the enduring special relationship between the UK and America.

This year, the British government selected forty-one winners from over one-thousand university-endorsed applicants and REL is extremely proud that REL double major Jackson Foster is among them. Continue reading

January 6, 2021:  Call it Epiphany

picture of crowd gatheredWhat one calls the events that took place in the capital of the nation on January 6, 2021, is a matter of perspective—a viewpoint acquired primarily, I suspect, through the political persuasion of the one giving name to the phenomenon. Continue reading

Announcing the 2022 American Example Participants

The American Examples steering committee is proud to announce the cohort of participants for the 2022 American Examples workshops. American Examples is a collaborative working group for early career scholars of religion in America, broadly conceived, from a variety of disciplines. American Examples engages the study of religion in America across the three areas of research, teaching, and public scholarship. This year, our entire cohort is non-tenure track participants, continuing our emphasis on opening up opportunities for early career scholars. We also have a range of disciplines in the cohort, ranging from religious studies to history to Slavic languages and literature.

This year’s cohort includes:

  • Yasmine Flodin-Ali, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jem Jebbia, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University
  • Steven Kaplin, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University
  • Andrew Klumpp, editor of the Annals of Iowa at the State Historical Society of Iowa
  • Jacob Lassin, Post-doctoral Research Scholar at the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at Arizona State University
  • Rachel Schwaller, lecturer in the Departments of History and Religious Studies at the University of Kansas
  • Suzanne van Geuns, Ph.D. candidate in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto
  • Kristine Wright, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Princeton University

There full bios are available on the American Examples website.

Congratulations to this year’s cohort! We are so excited to work with you in 2022!

All ToC and No Action: Feminism in Philosophy of Religion Textbooks

Feminist theory is all but absent from contemporary research in philosophy of religion. Open a textbook from the field and peruse the table of contents (ToC), and you might see “feminism” listed as a chapter or sub-heading. The contents of that chapter will very likely include references to works published squarely within the 1990s by self-identified “feminist philosophers of religion.” * After reading that section of the textbook, readers will ask: “If even one feminist critique is even partly correct, then why does the book read as though the field’s fundamental problems haven’t changed since the 1960s?” The answer may be that current textbook publications in the field are all ToC and no action. Continue reading

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

Should I “Public Humanities”? A Process for Thinking about Whether to Get Involved

 

The Event

I recently hosted a two-day workshop with Richard Newton as part of the American Examples project. Our aim was to think about “public humanities” with the 12 participants in the 2021 cohort. The first day’s over-arching question was, “should I “PH?” I thought it might be useful to share the process that guided our session, since others may be asking that question, too.

We planned this workshop with the assumption that none of the participants have a clear idea of what  is meant by public humanities. They are a group of early career scholars of religion in America. Our workshop was one among several aspects of the project, which engages the study of religion in America across the three areas of research, teaching, and public scholarship. American Examples trains and mentors early career scholars to work beyond the boundaries of American religion. Continue reading

REL Spirit Week

Photo of Prof. Loewen and Jacobs tweeting from the REL Lounge.

Yes indeed, this coming week (Oct. 11-15) is our first REL Spirit Week, with lots going on — and we hope you’ll join us for all of it.

Monday: students can tag @StudyReligion on their Instagram stories about what they’re doing (class prep? getting a coffee at the student center? in class? hanging out on the balcony or meeting a prof?) and we’ll re-post them to REL’s Instagram story (this will happen throughout the week). We’ll also have a #loungetweets session on Twitter (something we’ve not done in a while and which needs to be revived) — tune in to see what’s going on.

Tuesday: From 10-noon we’ll be having another button event along the Crimson Promenade, adjacent to Presidents Hall — and yes, we have new buttons to give away! Join our tent, hand out some buttons to random passersby, and meet other REL majors and minors, MA students, and faculty. Also, Prof. Griffin’s REL 310’s monthly movie night is from 6-9 pm and their movies are once again open to majors, minors, and MA students (it’s moved to the much larger ten Hoor 30). The movie: What We Do in the Shadows (2014).

Wednesday: Lots happening today — from 10-2 pm it’s the Majors Fair in the student center’s ballroom (talk to Prof. Newton about helping out at our table) and, later that night, it’s our first Fall movie on the balcony, at 7 pm (or once it’s dark enough) with Karate Kid (1984) being shown by Profs. Newton and Griffin. (A classic, no?) We’ll have folding chairs, so dress for the weather and BYO Popcorn. We’ll also have the regular balcony break from 10-noon, with a Guess Who game custom designed for the occasion.

Thursday: MA students will be visiting all of our lower-level classes, talking about Spring REL classes, distributing some info about them, and maybe bringing a few of the leftover buttons with them.

Friday: We close out the week with a final #loungetweets session (and more re-posted Instagram stories from throughout the week). Stop by the lounge to see who’s tweeting or write them back,

Photo of a past REL button event

American Examples 2022: Call for Participants

American Examples is a collaborative working group for early career scholars who study religion in America, broadly conceived, from a variety of disciplines. The program is generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. American Examples engages the study of religion in America across three areas: research, teaching, and public scholarship. Drawing on expertise from across the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, American Examples produces scholars whose work exceeds the academic and geographic boundaries of “American religion” or “American religious history.”

American Examples seeks applications for participants in its 2022 program. AE consists of three workshops, each with its own focus: research, public scholarship, and teaching. As COVID-19 continues to make planning difficult, we are currently planning to hold the three workshops virtually. The AE Steering Committee is closely monitoring the COVID situation and leaves the possibility of in-person meetings possible should conditions improve nationally and in Alabama.

Participants will be given a $750 stipend for their participation in the program.

Read the full call for participants

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