What’s New about New Modernisms?

The discourse of modernism has conventionally been dominated by a limiting attention to aesthetics, form, experimentation, and canon, often treated as standalone objects that capture the essence of modernist art — but what if we focus instead on social politics as a driving force behind the modernist movement?  What new perspective might be gained if we unite the typically separated categories of aesthetics and politics?  In their forthcoming book, Race and New Modernisms, REL Prof. Merinda Simmons and English Prof. Andy Crank confront these questions by offering a unique reevaluation of modernism, one that considers the racial ideology, colonial history, and regional complexity at work behind modernist form and aesthetic. Continue reading

More Isn’t Necessarily Better: Some Thoughts on the Job Search Process

Another job search season is upon us and, not yet knowing if our Department will be lucky enough to search for a new tenure track line (this year I submitted requests for two, in fact), I thought I’d offer a little unsolicited advice to people on the job market (and simultaneously solicit anyone else with experience on search committees in our field to contact me to consider writing a guest blog for our site, reflecting on these very issues from their point of view).

In case it doesn’t go without saying, let me me clear: the advise is idiosyncratic (for this is how I see things) but, for people on the other side of all those online application systems, maybe it’ll still provide a helpful insight into how at least some people go about the work of finding a new colleague.

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Taco Insights on Faculty Service

With the start of another school year right around the corner I’m thinking about service — one of those three main areas into which scholars usually divide up their work (the others being research and teaching, of course — and the order in which they’re written is not insignificant). It’s not hard to find faculty posting on social media bemoaning committee work, as if it gets in the way of a professor’s real work, but I’m here to say how important it is to the long term well-being of a Department — the primary unit that helps to make possible those individual careers. Continue reading

Summer Plans: Prof. McCutcheon

We asked the faculty what they were up to this summer; after all, just because the Spring semester is done doesn’t mean they’re all off gardening. And so this is what we learned…

Apart from writing the annual report and getting the Department ready for the new semester in the Fall, Professor McCutcheon has a few projects bubbling away, such as the second edition to his intro book, Studying Religion, which he plans to tackle and complete this summer. He’s also working on narrowing down the contents to an anthology that Walter de Gruyter, in Berlin, has contracted, as a follow-up to Jacques Waardenburg’s once well-known volume, Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion (a 1973 collection that was recently reissued, in a new edition, with a preface from McCutcheon). Picking up in the 1960s, about where Waardenburg’s volume ends, he plans to represent the trends and scholars of importance to the field’s last fifty years, adding a substantive introduction to the book (though maybe not quite the 80 pages of the earlier volume’s introductory chapter). He’s also finalizing the manuscripts for a few things that will be published this summer, such as a co-edited collection of interviews with the late Jonathan Z. Smith (in fact, his friend and co-editor, Willi Braun, is now giving the index one last proofing) and a couple new sets of his own essays (the first with Equinox and the other with de Gruyter). So if he can check all that off his list by August he’ll be a happy camper.

Summer Plans: Prof. Newton

We asked the faculty what they were up to this summer; after all, just because the Spring semester is done doesn’t mean they’re all off gardening. And so this is what we learned…

This summer Prof. Newton — who will be joining us here ay UA in the Fall — will be wrapping up the last of his teaching commitments at Elizabethtown College. In addition, he’ll be working on the final edits for his first book, Identifying Roots: Alex Haley and the Anthropology of Scriptures (Equinox 2019) as well as working on an essay for NAASR on religion, race, and ethnicity. He’ll also be getting his ducks in a row to to launch some new research (i.e., his second book, based around talks he’s given to the department) and teaching projects (i.e. his Islam class in the Fall) once he gets to Tuscaloosa.

Summer Plans: Prof. Loewen

We asked the faculty what they were up to this summer; after all, just because the Spring semester is done doesn’t mean they’re all off gardening. And so this is what we learned…

The first item on Prof. Loewen’s summer 2018 agenda is to present at the 2018 Derrida Today conference at Concordia University in Montreal (May 23-26). The presentation, “Historicizing the Orthodox, Anglophone Philosophy of Religion,” is based on his recently-published book. There are two projects on the docket for June: one week will be dedicated to revising a journal article about teaching, “The Data Is in the Details: Designing a Critical Online Introduction to Studying Religion” (which is based on what he learned while designing the online course REL 104 “Religion in Pop Culture”) and the remainder of June and all of July will focus on writing a book chapter about “evil” for the Global-Critical Philosophy of Religion seminar. The summer will likely be capped off with a week-long intensive course on “digital literacies” at Mary Washington University for the 2018 Digital Pedagogy Lab, and the completion of a an “instructional supplement” page and links on College of Arts and Sciences’ Teaching Hub. In, around and between all of this will be a family vacation to Quebec with a curious four year-old, completing some home renovation projects and building up a new ride!

Summer Plans: Prof. Trost

We asked the faculty what they were up to this summer; after all, just because the Spring semester is done doesn’t mean they’re all off gardening. And so this is what we learned…

This summer, Prof. Trost will be traveling to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, to ponder a possible project on pilgrimage and to meet with a person who is writing a chapter for the volume that he is editing. Then he will be in Thessaloniki, Greece, with Catherine Roach, who will be teaching a course as part of a Fulbright Scholars exchange.  He plans to meet with academics who teach New Testament at Aristotle University with an eye toward future collaboration. Following this trip, he will be in London to meet with one of the co-editors of his book, Love Across the Atlantic.

Summer Plans: Prof. Jacobs

We asked the faculty what they were up to this summer; after all, just because the Spring semester is done doesn’t mean they’re all off gardening. And so this is what we learned…

Prof. Jacobs is working on a variety of projects this summer. The first on his list is completing a manuscript entitled: Life Must Go On! Sol Lurie, the Kovno Ghetto, and the Murder of Lithuanian Jewry. He’ll also be drafting an article (“The Nexus Between Religion and Human Rights”), editing a chapter (“Judaism and Violence”) for the book, Religious Violence Today: Faith and Conflict in the Modern World, and working on a conference proposal entitled “The Antisemite as Litterateur: The Novels and Other Writings of Harold Covington.”

 

Summer time = Research & Writing time

Well, May graduation is over and, unless they’re staying in town for summer school or for work, students are packing up and heading out. And whether they’re staying in Tuscaloosa or traveling, now’s the time that faculty shift gears and tackle a variety of projects. Because our work in the classroom is far more visible than our research, we thought we’d ask them what they’re up to this summer. So watch for these posts, beginning tomorrow.

One Week of Research in an Archive: A Journal

Professors around the department often talk about their “research.” But what exactly is that? It’s something to do with books and articles, right? In hopes of showing how some of us work–or at least how I work–below is a day by day running journal of a five day research trip I took to the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

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