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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Honors Thesis Defense: Emily Vork on Gone With the Wind and Greek Life in the South

Emily Vork, who is graduating this semester, will be defending her Honors thesis this Friday, December 6, at 12:30 pm in Manly Hall 210. Her thesis is titled “‘Cavaliers and Cotton Fields’: the ‘Old South,’ Performativity, and Gone With the Wind in Southern Greek Life.” Her thesis project was supervised by Prof. Mike Altman. The thesis defense is open to faculty and undergraduate students in the department. Come hear Emily speak about her research project and celebrate the hard work she put into it this semester!


Attention Budding Religious Studies Scholars


    Fragonard, A Young Scholar (Wallace Collection)

“Thoughts are the precious seeds of which our universities should be the botanical gardens.  Beware when God lets loose a thinker on the world—either Carlyle or Emerson said that—for all things then have to rearrange themselves.  But the thinkers in their youth are almost always very lonely creatures.  ‘Alone the great sun rises and alone spring the great streams.’  The university most worthy of rational admiration is that one in which your lonely thinker can feel himself least lonely, most positively furthered, and most richly fed.”

–William James, “The True Harvard” (1903)

Before loosing you on an unsuspecting world, the Religious Studies Department wishes to cultivate your thoughts in the manner James extolls.  With hopes of furthering your ideas most positively, richly feeding your research, and providing stimulating intellectual companionship, we invite you to participate in the Department’s 4th Annual Religious Studies Undergraduate Research Symposium. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Suma Ikeuchi

Suma Blog

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. Continue reading

We Are the Beneficiaries


As I sit here making the Spring 2017 class schedule for our department I recall the many times that I’ve heard academics lament being involved in administration. (That they equally complain about no longer being much involved in the governance of their institutions is an irony too rich to overlook.) “My condolences” is the witty reply many offer when learning that a colleague has fallen on the dagger (yes, that’s how it is portrayed) of becoming a department chair, coupled with such profuse congratulations at news of one stepping down as to make you think that it was equivalent to having your wrongful conviction overturned. Continue reading