The 6th Annual Day Lecture

The Department of Religious Studies hosted its 6th annual Day Lecture. The series (established, by his family, in the memory of REL grad Zachary Day) focuses on religion and popular culture, attracting students from across campus.
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Prof. Ikeuchi to Screen Her Research

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Our newest addition to the REL faculty, Prof. Suma Ikeuchi will screen her ethnographic film “In Leila’s Room” at the 2016 Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival. Here’s a brief description of the film:

A young Brazilian migrant woman, Leila, runs a small make-up salon in her apartment in Toyota City, Japan. Most of her clients are, like herself, Brazilians of Japanese descent who have return migrated to the land of their ancestors. Her small salon is also a social hub of evangelical women in the local Brazilian migrant community who come in for good make-up and conversations. In this intimate space, Leila, her fellow migrants, and the filmmaker speak about and act out their complex identities.
Shot almost entirely in one room, the film captures migrants’ sense of identity and belonging by witnessing the interactions between Leila, the filmmaker, her family and friends, and the clients. What defines being Japanese, Brazilian, or Japanese-Brazilian? How does generational identity shape transnational belonging? How can one rely on God in the face of ethnic discrimination and social alienation? The scenes and dialogues speak to these issues that migrants constantly grapple with.

The film will be screened at the festival in Minneapolis, MN this November. Congratulations, Prof. Ikeuchi!

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Classification or Confusion?

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Catie Stewart is a junior at the University of Alabama from Madison, Mississippi. She is double majoring in English and Religious Studies and minoring in Psychology. This post was originally written for Dr. Rollens’ course, REL 360: Popular Culture/Public Humanities.

Recently I found myself sitting in a dark room staring at a projector trying to make sense of what I was seeing. It was our fourth and final REL 360 meeting, and there were only thirty minutes left in the movie that Dr. McCutcheon had picked for us to watch.

I was completely lost.

Should I have expected this from a David Lynch film? Probably. However, when Dr. McCutcheon inserted Mulholland Drive into the DVD player at the beginning of the meeting, I had been certain that what I was about to see would make perfect sense.

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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.