We invite you to join us on March 10th at 7pm (central) for our annual Day Lecture — which will be a virtual event this year, hosted by Prof. Richard Newton.
Dr. Zachary T. Smith will discuss the academic study of religion and sports, beginning with the question: how can we think beyond the common scholarly (and popular) characterization of sport as some kind of new quasi-religious phenomena of secularized society?
Zach is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Kinesiology, in the School of Behavioral Sciences & Education at Penn State University (Harrisburg). He earned his M.A. in Comparative Religion from Western Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in Kinesiology and Sport Studies from the University of Tennessee, writing a dissertation entitled, “For God’s Sake, FIGHT!”: Carnal Ethnography, Christian Mixed Martial Arts, and a Military Definition of Reality. Zach was also a member of the 2020 cohort of REL’s American Examples initiative and, most recently, is the author of the article, “Can Sport be Regarded as ‘Cultural Liturgy’?” in the special issue of Sport in Society (2019) on social scientific perspectives on sports.
Current REL students (minors, majors, and graduate students), alums, and faculty will all receive the Zoom link in your inbox prior to the event.
For off-campus guests who wish to join us, please register at: https://bit.ly/DayLecture
You will receive the Zoom link via email the day before the event.
Did you know that we are now accepting applications for American Examples 2021? American Examples is our Luce Funded program of workshops for untenured scholars of so-called “religion in America.” You can find out more at the American Examples website. Or, you can just listen to the podcast below where American Examples alumni Travis Cooper and Hannah Scheidt talk about their experiences in the program. Applications are due October 31 so listen and apply!
American Examples is back. The series of workshops, funded by the Luce Foundation, is seeking applications for the 2021 program. This year’s program will be virtual but it will still include three workshops covering research, public humanities, and teaching. The program is open to any non-tenured scholars of so-called “religion in America” (very broadly defined). Priority is given to applicants off of the tenure-track. Applicants from communities underrepresented in the academy are especially encouraged to apply.
Many of the REL faculty pitched in late in the spring and into the early summer to adapt to our new COVID reality by hosting a series of informal Zoom discussions about teaching with our 2020 AE participants (and even a couple 2019 AE folks). The discussions offered everyone a chance to share how they were experimenting with remote teaching and how to better prepare for their fall courses. I think everyone involved found the discussions fruitful.
This fall we are adapting again, though with greater preparation. Rather than the planned face to face workshop on public humanities, we have shifted to a new model. Beginning last week, the #AE2020 cohort has been joining myself and another REL faculty for informal conversations about the public humanities and how we think about them here in our department. Last week Prof. Jeri Wieringa joined us to talk about the role of digital platforms and tools in public humanities and the relationship between public humanities and digital humanities. This week, Prof. Richard Newton spent time talking about how scholars can craft a public persona and how to manage things as an online public scholar of religion. Next week, Prof. Nathan Loewen will join us for our final conversation to discuss the REL 502 Public Humanities Foundations course he is teaching and how public humanities relates to both the graduate and undergraduate classroom. The first two conversations have proven useful and fun and we look forward to another great one next week.
Along with these conversations, the 2020 AE participants will be working on producing a series of short accessible videos on key terms in the study of religion. In these videos the participants will take a term that is useful to them in their research (text, canon, law, ritual, etc.) and use an example from their research to explain the term. The idea being that scholars who study things in times and places outside the United States might also use that term and that teachers or interested members of the public might find their explanations useful. We hope these videos will reach a public audience, via a new AE YouTube channel, but we also think they will be useful in introductory religious studies courses. After all, the classroom is probably the public space scholars of religion have the most frequent access too. Our students are the public too.
And on top of all of this, the 2021 AE cohort is just around the corner. Keep your eyes peeled for a 2021 call for participants for a newly designed remote version of AE. That should be out very soon.
American Examples, the program for early-career scholars of religion in America funded by the Luce Foundation, is proud to announce a new publication relationship with the University of Alabama Press. UAP will be publishing an anthology of research essays from each of the American Examples cohorts beginning with the first AE cohort that met in spring of 2019. The first anthology, titled American Examples: A New Conversation About Religion, will be published in the summer of 2021. We are very excited to partner with UAP and look forward to four more anthologies over the next four years of the program’s funding. Continue reading →
We are very pleased to announce that, in consultation with the REL Graduate Committee as well as Prof. Mike Altman, who heads up our American Examples workshop, Jack Bernardi has been named as our next American Examples Graduate Fellow.
Jack earned a B.S. in Pure Mathematics in 2017 and is now nearing the end of his first year in REL’s M.A. program. His research interests are wide, but focused around issues of apocalyptic narratives and climate change. Throughout 2019-20 he held UA’s prestigious Graduate Council Fellowship and served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of American Studies in the Fall 2019 semester.
Following Keeley McMurray, our inaugural AE Fellow (who graduates from our M.A. degree this semester, to begin her Ph.D. in the study of religion at Florida State in the Fall), Jack begins in his role in mid-May, assisting Prof. Altman with organizing and hosting three annual workshops.
American Examples, generously funded by a four-year grant from the Luce Foundation, involves a team of REL faculty who annually
mentor a group of early career scholars in areas of
research, teaching, and public scholarship.
It’s here. Well, almost. The papers have been read. The mentors have met and brainstormed. The plane tickets and hotels are booked. The restaurant reservations are made. This week 9 new participants in the American Examples program, funded graciously by the Henry Luce Foundation, will arrive in Tuscaloosa for a weekend of discussion and collaboration on innovative new research into things people call religion in places people call America. We have a lot going on this week.
Samah Choudhury is a PhD candidate at UNC Chapel Hill. Her dissertation focuses on humor and Islam in America, looking specifically how American Muslim comedians utilize humor as a mode of self-constructing and then articulating “Islam” for an American public. Her larger research interests pertain to critical race theory, secularism and the state, and gender/queer theory. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Political Science and an A.M. from Harvard University in Middle Eastern Studies.
We asked her to explain what she gained from her participation in the first American Examples workshop last year.
American Examples was an ideal environment for workshopping a research paper. Early circulation of drafts ensured everyone was acquainted with each other’s work, and the full hour dedicated to each paper meant that the ensuing commentary was far from cursory. Discussions cut to the heart of what this program intended: rather than focusing on what was uniquely “American” about American religion, we were asking how our work could better speak to cross-cultural and comparative social formations in and outside of an American context. I feel fortunate that opportunities like this exist in order to bring together those that share an investment in scholarship that is both public-facing and capacious in its application to the study of religion at large.