Jared Powell: One Outstanding Student Worker

Jared Powell accepting his nominee award from Robert Hayes, Assistant Dean for Student Services, College of Arts and Sciences

Jared Powell accepting his nominee award from Robert Hayes, Assistant Dean for Student Services, College of Arts and Sciences

So much of what happens to make REL into the wonderful department that it is happens because of our hardworking main office staff. The videos, the buttons, the events, and all the other things that make this department such a joy to be part of couldn’t happen without our student workers. Yesterday, one of those student workers finally got the recognition he deserves. Jared Powell, an REL major, a graduating senior, a future MA student in English, and a man who knows the value of well-ironed pants, was recognized as a nominee at this year’s Student Employee of the Year Awards luncheon. Why was Jared nominated, you might ask? Well, our department’s Administrative Secretary, Betty Dickey, said it best: Continue reading

Classroom to Conference: REL Majors Presenting Their Research

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REL is very happy to announce that two of our students have been accepted to present their research at the Southeastern regional meeting of the American Academy of Religion in March.

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Jared Powell will be presenting a paper titled “And the Beat Goes On: Imaginings and Retellings of Han Shan by Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac.” The conference paper began as a project in Dr. Ramey‘s REL 419: Tales From Asia course. In the paper, he analyzes the ways in which Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac–two Beat Generation writers–translate and retell the poetry and life of Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Han Shan. He argues that in their works, Snyder and Kerouac create an imagining of Han Shan as an ascetic Buddhist ideal that champions typical Beat emphases of playfulness, spirituality, and counterculturalism

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Sarah Griswold’s conference paper is also Asia related. Titled, “There is a Well at Cawnpore: The Politics of Commemoration in Colonial India,” her paper analyzes a memorial at a well in the Indian town of Cawnpore. The well stood as a memorial of the Siege of Cawnpore during the 1857 revolt under British colonial rule. The conference paper began as a project in Dr. Altman‘s special topics REL 483: Religion in Colonial India course (that will soon be a regular course offering in the department).

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You can find the full conference program here. You might even notice a few other REL names on the schedule.

Do you have a paper from a course that you’re proud of? Are you interested in sharing your work beyond just your professor? REL offers many opportunities to share your undergraduate research, such as this blog, the REL Honors Research Symposium, the UA Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference, and the regional AAR meeting. Talk to your professor about how you can present the great research you are doing in your courses!

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Sita Sings the Universal Blues

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by Jared Powell
Jared Powell is  a senior from Canton, Mississippi
majoring in English and Religious Studies. This post
was originally written for Steven Ramey’s REL 419 class.

Any college student would agree that the last thing we need is another Netflix suggestion to distract us from our studies… but that is exactly what I’m going to offer. Put down your English readings, forget about that MathLab assignment, and–dare I say it–skip the football game and watch Sita Sings the Blues. Nina Paley’s animated retelling of the Ramayana is humorous, charming, visually captivating, and–as will be explained after the preview below–incredibly insightful for thinking about narrative formation. Continue reading

Weaving the Thread of Oregon’s Origins

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By Jared Powell
Jared Powell is a senior from Canton, Mississippi
majoring in English and Religious Studies

If you follow college football, like most folks around here do, then you’ve surely heard a thing or two about the Oregon Ducks. Oregon has carved their place as one of the most successful college teams of the past five years with an imagined rivalry with the Tide (“We want Bama” anyone?), but they also make waves week in and week out with their jersey designs. The Ducks have been known to sport bright neon green and yellow getups in games past, but the designs for the October 10th matchup against Washington State branch off in a new direction—the overt creation of an origins narrative.

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Eudora Welty’s Jitney Jungle

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By Jared Powell
Jared Powell is a junior from Canton, Mississippi
majoring in English and Religious Studies.

I recently attended the first Hidden Humanities lecture, hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences, featuring Dr. William Ferris and his talk “Standing at the Crossroads: The Humanities and the American South.” The lecture struck a few chords with me–and not just because he also played a couple blues classics on a steel string guitar during the lecture–and got me thinking about what I understood to be two of Dr. Ferris’ main points: the importance of a sense of place to “Southern culture,” and memory as a tie that binds individuals together. Continue reading

Identifying for the Jokes

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By Jared Powell
Jared Powell is a junior from Canton, Mississippi majoring in English and Religious Studies. He enjoys watching Seinfeld, his favorite TV show, and is always disappointed when somebody does not understand a reference to the famed sitcom. He one day hopes to become an architect, or maybe an importer-exporter of latex products.

What are the various identities, religious or nonreligious, that an individual can assume? Why do individuals choose to identify with certain categories? How do individuals exhibit or prove their identity to members of the group, or nonmembers? These key questions constantly come up in my classes with the department. During one class, another student mentioned an episode of Seinfeld (Season 8 Episode 19, “The Yada Yada”) that could be related to these questions of identity. In order to defend my self-proclaimed Seinfeld aficionado status, I took it upon myself to rewatch the episode and see what connections I could make. Continue reading