Publication News

We just got word that a paper co-written by Sierra Lawson (entering the second year of her M.A. in our Department) and Prof. Steven Ramey has been accepted to be published in the coming year in UK peer review journal Culture & Religion.

What’s it on?

Sourcing Stereotypes: Constructing and Challenging Simplified Knowledge


The social media uproar in Fall 2017 over a nursing textbook chart that presented generalized characterizations of minority groups generated an assumption that medical training needs more Religious Studies expertise. Analyzing the sources that the chart cited, we trace the authors’ assertions to studies of varying quality and identify several specific processes involved in simplifying knowledge for dissemination, as the authors disregarded the limits of each specific study and ignored counter-evidence or otherwise evaded critical scrutiny. Comparing this example to examples from world religions discourse illustrates both differences and similarities in the process of constructing simplified presentations. While both presumably developed out of good intentions, they generate significant problems in their effort to shape material to support larger arguments. Thus, scholars across disciplines should critique and complicate their own processes for generating simplified knowledge.


Largely Invisible No More

Picture 10The Australian scholar, Marion Maddox, has written an interesting review essay for The International Political Science Review (get a free PDF of the article from the publisher here) documenting the lack of cross-disciplinary pollination when it comes to research on religion. Continue reading

Border Patrol

Picture 1Seen this article? Students in our Department read anthropologists, historians, sociologists, psychologists, literary critics, philosophers, along with scholars of religion, to name just a few of the other fields that we regularly draw on in carrying out our work. So what do you think the implications of this cross-disciplinary work are for our field — is it interdisciplinary at its core? Are we valued by those in other fields?

Or maybe the better question is: What fields are not interdisciplinary — to whatever degree — today? For while departments and academic disciplines are, of course, still administrative units of varying consequence, for whom are they still so rigid that a colleague would be puzzled by your citation of someone from another field?

Come to think of it, at a time when many of us read so widely, how do you even define cross-disciplinary as a distinct thing? After all, the same small handful of scholars in the late-19th century seem to be the common founding figures to which a host of different fields today all trace themselves, suggesting that we’re all interdisciplinary to begin with, no?