Calculating the Other: ISIS and Paris


After a lovely dinner at a restaurant the other night, with my mom and husband, we came home, checked our cell phones, and were consumed by the unfolding story about the attacks in Paris.  In the flurry of articles trying to make sense of the situation, “Crimes Jihadists Will Sentence You to Death For,” caught my attention.  Its argument mirrored many of the discussions that were happening on people’s Facebook walls – there’s something so distinct, so different about ISIS, its religion, political aims, use of violence, that renders it beyond comprehension. Continue reading

#LoungeTweets With Dr. Finnegan on Monday


Did you check out our #LoungeTweets a couple weeks ago? It was a blast. Now it’s time to do it again.


Dr. Eleanor Finnegan will hang out in the lounge from 2:30-3:30 on Monday to answer questions, tweet about what’s happening in the lounge, and let us know what she’s up to lately. Follow her at @finneged.

Follow the conversation at #LoungeTweets. Don’t miss it!

A Good Book: Durkheim Time with Prof. Finnegan

durkheim bookThe first episode in our newest series, A Good Book, is up and running! This video features Prof. Finnegan and her discussion of Emile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life.

A Good Book with Prof. Finnegan from UA Religious Studies.


This past weekend, several faculty members and one former student presented research and networked with colleagues at the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR) Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.


Andie Alexander, a recent grad and office worker extraordinaire, presented a paper entitled “Shifting the Focus: Understanding the Teller Behind the Tale” for a Method and Theory in the Study of Religion undergraduate research panel.

Dr. Finnegan presented a paper entitled “The Digital Discourses of Muslim Environmentalist,” which tracked the construction of the terms environment, environmentalist, and Islam. She was also appointed co-chair of the Islam section.


To help lead a conversation on Ronald Neal’s Democracy in 21st Century America: Race, Class, Religion, and Region, Dr. Simmons presented her thoughts on authenticity and identity.

On Saturday, Dr. Ramey finished his tenure as the President of SECSOR.  He also shared many of the exciting things that we do in the department, like buttons, blogs, and Facebook as part of “What Will You Do With That? A Workshop on Encouraging Majors and Enrollments.”


Lectures and Films and Blogs, Oh My…

powerrangermaryREL 360 is the course number that we’re now using for a new, 1 credit hour course (repeatable for up to a total of 3 semesters/credit hours), beginning in the Fall of 2014, on what happens when the Humanities bumps into popular culture.

Offered each semester, it is the outgrowth of the past two years of informal movie nights with our student association — although they were successful events they lacked the opportunity of delving into the issues of the films in more detail or linking them explicitly to topics already being examined in other classes. “Popular Culture/Public Humanities” requires students to attend four films each semester (once a month, from 6:00-9:00 pm, room and films to be announced) along with either the Day Lecture (in the Fall) or the Aronov Lecture (in the Spring), and then to write a small number of brief commentaries on these events/issues, some of which (after working through drafts with a faculty member) will be posted here, on our Student Blog.

In the Fall 2014 semester, REL 360 will meet:

Tues Aug 26
Tues Sept 23
Tues Oct 21
Tues Nov 18

In order to earn credit students must attend all events and complete the assignments.

Coordinated by Prof. Finnegan, REL 360 will also involve a variety of other REL faculty, all demonstrating the relevance of the Humanities for studying popular culture by introducing each film and then leading a discussion after, all of which provides a springboard into each student’s commentary on the issues the film or the lecture allows us to examine in more detail.

Speak to Prof. Finnegan for permission to enroll.

While the films will be advertised and remain open to other students, only those enrolling in REL 360 and completing its assignments will earn credit for the course.

Backstory: Prof. Eleanor Finnegan


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?

I am from Lexington, Massachusetts. It is just outside Boston and famous for being the birthplace of the American Revolution. Usually I tell people here that I’m from outside Boston, because people in the South usually assume I mean Kentucky when I say Lexington. Plus, I still identify as a Bostonian, despite living in the South for ten years. Continue reading

AAR, Take Three

aarbslWe know you’ve been waiting for the third installment of interviews from the AAR. This video features two of our faculty members, Profs. Eleanor Finnegan and Steven Ramey, talking on their conference experience and the benefits of collaboration at these conferences.

AAR 2013: Talking with Our Faculty from UA Religious Studies.