Faculty News

This is the time of year when faculty who applied last Fall for promotions are notified of the decision of the Office of Academic Affairs. We’re therefore quite pleased to announce that Dr. Merinda Simmons and Dr. Nathan Loewen have each been promoted — Dr. Simmons to the rank of Professor (sometimes called Full Professor) and Dr. Loewen to the rank of Associate Professor. In addition, Dr. Loewen was awarded tenure.

Merinda Simmons

Professor Simmons, who earned her Ph.D. in English at the University of Alabama (in 2009), has been our inaugural Graduate Director, having helped lead the Department in the planning stages for our M.A. degree (now entering its 4th year). She works across a wide variety of areas, both in her undergraduate and graduate teaching and in her research: from gender studies, queer theory, southern studies, and method and theory in the study of religion, to postcolonial studies, Afro-Caribbean and African American literature and theory, as well as studies in migration and diaspora. She has authored and/or edited four books and is currently working on the manuscript to a new monograph, Sourcing Slave Religion: Theorizing Experience in the Archive. With this promotion she has attained the highest rank faculty obtain.

Framed document present to Dr. Simmons

To mark the occasion, Dr. Simmons received a framed original of the cartoon version of herself that was featured on the Department’s blog back in 2014-15 — making a point that she’s often made in classes concerning how rhetorics of antiquity (even on our own campus) function.

Nathan Loewen

Associate Professor Loewen earned his Ph.D. at McGill University (in 2009) and taught at McGill  (2005-2009) and then at Vanier College (2009-14), both in Canada, before coming to UA in 2015. His work in the philosophy of religion originally focused on the problem of evil (the topic of his first book, Beyond the Problem of Evil: Derrida and Anglophone Philosophy of Religion) but has now moved more broadly to be concerned with ways to globalize the philosophy of religion. His appointment also entails a significant amount of time dedicated to his role as the College of Arts & Sciences’ Faculty Technology Liaison, assisting the College to promote everything from better teaching in general to the development of better online courses. With this promotion he has also been awarded tenure.

Framed document presented to Dr. Loewen

To mark this milestone in his career, Dr. Loewen was also presented with a framed original from the 2014-15 web series which features himself; of note is that, in hindsight, we can now see how his cartoon was basically a prototype for the trading cards that the Department eventually made just last year.

Congratulations to both Merinda and Nathan — these are well-deserved
awards to two hard-working and valuable colleagues.

 

 

Announcing the 2019 American Examples Participants

Earlier this fall we announced a new working group for early career scholars of religion in America, American Examples. Thanks to funding from REL and the College of Arts and Sciences we will be hosting 6 participants on campus for a workshop that will produce an anthology of new papers taking a new approach to the study of religion in America.

We are happy and excited to announce the participants in the inaugural year of the working group:

For more information about the participants,
check out the American Examples website.

 

Dr. Richard Newton is Coming to Tuscaloosa

The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama is extremely pleased to announce that Dr. Richard Newton will be joining our faculty to begin the 2018-19 academic year.

Richard is currently Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, and received his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in 2009.

His research explores how people create “scriptures” and their links to identity formation and the maintenance of cultural boundaries. His current project uses Alex Haley’s Roots as an example of these dynamics — processes that have critical implications for the study of race and religion in the United States.

“A strong commitment to excellent teaching, thought-provoking research, and public-facing scholarship have long made Alabama the program to watch in the field. I’m excited to contribute to the study of religion in culture from Manly Hall,” Newton commented.

Richard will contribute a wide variety of courses to the Department — classes that exemplify the application of social theory to sites from across the study of religion — and his entrepreneurial work using digital/social media, in both his scholarship and teaching, will enhance our own emphasis on these areas, at both the B.A. and M.A. levels.