Faculty News

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Emily Crews (pictured above, at our 2019 Honors Day), who has been REL’s full-time Instructor for the past two years, has decided to return north to complete her dissertation at the University of Chicago, and so she will not be rejoining us in the Fall semester.

Emily has specialized in teaching our intro Honors course, REL 105, along with our regular evening course on film, REL Goes to the Movies. She also participated in our American Examples grant, organized our annual undergraduate research symposium, joined in on some REL publishing projects, and supervised some of our M.A. students as teaching assistants — who learned much from her in the classroom.

For to say that she consistently receives wonderful reviews from her students each semester would be a terrible understatement. Apart from regularly stating that she is among the best and most caring faculty members that a student has had at UA, we recently received this statement from a student:

She is a wonderful human being and an absolutely invaluable instructor. If aliens came to this planet to see the best humans we had to offer, she should be the rep for education.

Humor, rigor, and learning things at unexpected moments and applying them in novel places is what student came to expect from her classes — all things that helped to secure REL’s reputation as a pretty good place to be. So yes, we’ll all miss her a great deal. But we wish her luck and look forward to hearing of her progress on finishing up that dissertation.

Interested in some of her work? Listen to a new podcast
(ep. 158) with Emily and follow her on Twitter.

Some Faculty News

The Department of Religious studies is pleased to announce that Emily D. Crews has been hired as an Instructor, to begin work in August 2018.

Emily is a Ph.D. candidate in History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her dissertation project, now nearing completion, traces the relationship between movement and identity formation in the context of Nigerian immigration to the United States, exploring the ways in which Pentecostalism condition, and is conditioned by, the attempts of people to make themselves feel “at home” in a foreign culture. Her teaching interests are broad, but focus mostly on such areas as migration, gender, sexuality, and the body, as well as religions in the African diaspora.

In the Fall semester, Emily will teach sections of REL 105 Honors Introduction to the Study of Religion as well as REL 360, devoted to religion and pop culture.

Meet the Press

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Our own Dr. Merinda Simmons recently published a book, titled Changing the Subject: Writing Women Across the African Diaspora. In this post, she sat down for an interview to discuss the book, her work, and its relations to the academic study of religion.

Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Merinda Simmons

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.

Where are you from?

Tampa, FL.  I grew up celebrating what I took to be my “Southern heritage” of strong coffee, palm trees, and red beans and rice.  When I moved to Alabama after a stint in Appalachia, my students informed me that I was ridiculous to claim Southernness as part of my identity.  I can’t help but think that that rude awakening contributed to my interest in Southern Studies, in how various groups classify this complicated region and how those classifications shape certain relationships to power and something called “the past.” Continue reading