The 19th Annual Aronov Lecture

Poster for March 23rd 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 (Oxford 2014) and Peace Love Yoga: The Politics of Global Spirituality (Oxford, 2020). She will join Prof. Ramey in a virtual conversation about the state of the field that will open a Q&A with those attending.

Jain’s works in progress, including the documentary film “Predation,” call for humanities scholars to center questions about the current pandemic and planetary crisis. The purpose of humanities scholarship, Jain argues, should include the following: to remind scientists and health experts that equity must be at the center of their response to pandemic and planetary crisis; to uncover and analyze the needs for repair in the relationships between human societies and environmental bodies and non-human animals; and to diagnose capitalism’s death-dealing structures and the causes of ecological death in the hope that activists, in turn, can build on that scholarship to imagine radically different futures.

Current and past REL students will soon receive the Zoom link for the Aronov lecture by email in the coming days.

Guests from off-campus are invited to register at

Learn more about REL’s annual Aronov lecture.

Our thanks to Prof. Jeri Wieringa for her work behind-the-scenes to make these virtual events possible last year and again this year.

An Evening with Annette Yoshiko Reed

Poster for Oct 21 Aronov LectureThe Aronov Lecture brings to the University of Alabama renowned scholars of religion whose work can communicate lessons and insights relevant to the broader human sciences. One of our department’s two annual lectures, we are excited to host this year’s speaker, Dr. Annette Yoshiko Reed on the evening of Wednesday, October 21 at 7 pm (central time). Continue reading

Upcoming REL Events Canceled

Canceled Sign in an airport

With Spring break right around the corner, during which little might be taking place on campus, but happening just as the nation-wide spread of the COVID-19 virus shows no signs of slowing down, we felt that it was necessary to be proactive and to think ahead a little, so that REL students, faculty, and staff know that at least a few things are settled for the coming weeks.

Because the experts continue to tell us that not only regular hand-washing, etc. but also maintaining a strategic social distance are crucial elements to curtailing the spread of the illness — going so far as to advise against attending unnecessary large events or engaging in unnecessary travel  — we thought it wise to just go ahead now and cancel some of our upcoming events:

– The 18th annual Aronov Lecture, on April 6, with our guest lecturer coming to Alabama from New York, has been canceled and is being rescheduled for the Fall semester.

– The 7th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on March 26 is canceled.

– The 19th annual REL Honors Day reception on the balcony, on Apr. 3, is also cancelled; instead, award winners will have letters sent to them in the coming weeks.

In part because we are currently unsure what the University will be doing in the coming weeks, it pains us to send out this news now; but, ensuring that our students, staff, and faculty stay healthy and also stay informed are among our highest priorities.

Be well during the Spring break and stay in touch with UA news in case an announcement is made concerning post-Spring break classes.

Spring Semester Coming Attractions

After Spring break there’s plenty happening in REL.

Apart from the American Examples workshop, mentioned in a post yesterday, on the first Monday back, starting at 10 am, we have our annual button event, just in time for the upcoming registration for Fall classes (which opens on Mon, Mar. 25). Once again, Prof. Newton is at the helm and he’d love to see you stop buy, hand out a few buttons and some info on classes. The REL tent will be set up adjacent to Manly Hall, in the usual spot.

On March 27, from 7-9 pm, Grad Tales returns, with REL grad Chris Hurt being interviewed by REL grad Justin Nelson (and member of REL’s Alum Liaison Committee). Chris, a 2008 grad, has a day job, sure, but is also actively pursuing a career in music, out in LA, with the Jamestown Pagans. More info about our event here. Or catch him on lead vocals and keyboard here: Continue reading

Coming Attractions

It’s going to be another busy semester around Manly Hall — REL has some guests coming and things are happening.

Along with three candidates visiting campus this month for a tenure-track faculty position that we hope to fill for Fall 2019 (devoted to social theory of Islam) — and we’ll be talking to some students about joining each interviewee for a chat over coffee — we have Prof. Tim Jensen flying in from Denmark to deliver the 17th annual Aronov Lecture and REL grad Chris Hurt is due from California to join us at another Grad Tales event, hosted again by our Alum Liaison Committee. (Chris, on keyboards and vocals, is one half of the group Jamestown Pagans.) With our alums in mind, we should also mention that they’ll again be offering a careers workshop later this semester, with some practical advice that you’ll find useful, no matter what you’re aiming to do after university. And, as part of the College of Arts & Sciences’ Alabama/Greece Initiative, Prof. Touna will be hosting a professor from Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, for a week — he’ll be offering guest lectures and making some class visits — and a group of early career scholars are visiting campus as part of our new American Examples working group, organized by Prof. Altman and funded by both the Department and the College of A&S. (Did we say that we’re applying for a fairly large external grant to make this an annual event…?)

Did we mention the sixth annual honors research symposium at the end of February? You should talk to an REL prof — asap — if you have a paper you’d like to revise and present.

Of course Honors Day is also coming, the first Friday of April, with the Department’s annual ceremony on the balcony around noon (immediately following the completion of the A&S event at Moody Music Hall). Oh, and we’ve got something new to announce about Honors Day but we’ll leave that for a separate notice.

So welcome back and we hope you have a great Spring semester.

The 15th Annual Aronov Lecture

Last month, Dr. Laura Levitt, Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies & Gender at Temple University, presented “Objects Out of Place: Revisiting the Sacred Arts of Holding, Custody and Conservation,” as the Department’s 15th annual Aronov Lecture. (Learn more about this annual lecture series here.)

Did you miss the event? Not to worry! You can watch it here. Continue reading

The 14th Annual Aronov Lecture

glaude blog postBack in March, Dr. Eddie Glaude, the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University (and incoming President of the American Academy of Religion [AAR]), presented his lecture, titled “Democracy in Black: The Value Gap,” as the Religious Studies Department’s 14th annual Aronov Lecture. (Learn more about this annual lecture series.)

Did you miss it?

Not to worry! You can follow the link below or watch it here.

Our thanks to Caity Walker and Jared Powell for filming and posting the lecture.

The 14th Annual Aronov Lecture: Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. from UA Religious Studies.

Imagination, Morality, and the Value Gap

Dr. Glaude

Bethany Scott is a freshman at the University of Alabama with a major in Human Performance Exercise Science, with a focus on Nutrition on a Pre- PA track. She graduated High School in Augusta, Georgia, but as a military kid she was able to travel and live in many different countries. This post was written as part of REL 360: Popular Culture/Public Humanities.

Everyone knows that as your age increases imagination decreases, but one question that comes to mind is, does your imagination affect your morals? An eye-opening event took place at the University of Alabama, on March 24th, in Lloyd Hall. In front of a large crowd, Dr. Eddie Glaude a professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University, delivered the 2016 Aronov Lecture and argued that “the Negro problem” and what he calls “the value gap” results from a failure of moral imagination.  Imagination puts us into the lives of those whom we tend to see as different from us, and we are then able to take on their concerns or aspirations. Imagination allows us to understand and relate.  Glaude believes that the world lacks imagination which says something about our characters. Glaude sees “the Negro problem” and the value gap as matters of character.

To further explain “The Negro problem” it is the idea that many Black Americans like to prematurely claim that the problems with the Black race are solved and the fight for complete equality is over. This assumption that the fight for complete racial equality is over then leads to even more issues. With this assumption there will continue to be discrimination. The amount of educational and job opportunities will not increase for the minority groups, and there will be a continuous struggle to achieve complete equality. In 1903 W.E.B Du Bois predicted correctly that “the color line” separating the darker and lighter races would be the problem of the 20th century. With this persistent color gap, the problem of the value gap then surfaces.  ‘The value gap’ is Glaude’s term that refers to the way the White body is valued more than any other race. Not only that, but each body is then given different meaning. For example the Black body in American society is usually interpreted as being a criminal or violent. This idea plagues the efforts of those who continue to have demands for racial equality. Labeling the Black body as violent and a criminal directly correlates with the issue of White fear.  Glaude explained White fear as a response to the belief that Black people will impact the country negatively. This fear leads to an automatic judgment as well as assumptions about one’s character. The assumption then troubles people of color to go out of their way in order to seem less threatening.  If one does not wish to smile, then there should be no obligation to smile because of someone else’s fear.  Unless we stop dancing around racial issues, Glaude argues, the habits of character that perpetuate the Negro problem and the value gap will never be uprooted.

The minority race cannot kill the idea of whiteness. That is something those with racial privilege must do. For their part, Glaude claims, Black Americans must reclaim the power of imagination.  Imagination greatly influenced the slaves of the South. Their imagination allowed the slaves to see beyond slavery. With imagination, not only are you able to see beyond the current condition, it also involves empathetic projection.  Glaude’s lecture was an educational experience. Throughout the entire lecture I was on the edge of my seat.  Individually I learned that, as a society we of all races must attend to our characters if we wish to alter our narcissistic tendencies and selfishness and become open to new ideas.