Last week, the Department of Religious Studies hosted its annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at Gorgas Library. Students from Religious Studies courses collaborated with advisors on written projects before presenting their work at the event. The unique topics, challenging question-answer portion, and free coffee made for a refreshing Friday morning. Professors, alumni, MA students, and undergraduates used social media to keep up with the event.
Yesterday was REL’s 6th annual undergrad research symposium, with six presenters and two of our grad students moderating. While some of the students are majors in REL, others carry out their work all across the university, though they’re all in our classes and so all of them are mulling over what it means to study religion in culture — something our Department been experimenting with and trying to model for almost 20 years. Continue reading →
Join us tomorrow morning, Friday Feb. 22, for our 6th annual undergrad research symposium. It starts at 9 a.m. in room 205 of Gorgas Library (on the main floor). We have 6 students presenting their own original work (mentored by REL faculty), on two panels, and two of our M.A. students are presiding.
With spring break drawing to a close we’ve got a full week ahead of us:
(1) Sarah Griswold will defend REL’s first M.A. thesis; it takes place Monday at 1:30 in Manly 210 — all faculty and grad students are invited, along with a small number of B.A. students who the faculty may have invited.
(2) Our 5th annual research symposium takes place all Friday morning, upstairs at the University Club — all majors and minors are invited, along with the faculty of course; it starts around 8:30 am or so, with coffee, tea and breakfast snacks, before the first panel gets going, and we’ll have lunch after its over. Thanks to our M.A. students, who will help to record it (for a future podcast) and also chair the sessions. (See who will be presenting.)
And (3) an incoming MA student, Savannah Finver, is flying in from New York state for a few days, to visit campus for the first time — say hi if you see her. (We have 3 confirmed new grad students starting in the Fall, with one part-time student joining them and possibly an additional full-time student as well.)
See you at Manly Hall — and I hope you’ve had a good week.
Yes, this semester we’re celebrating our Department’s 50th anniversary.
If you’re interested in some of the historical background, then see this post from this past August.
The short story is that UA’s Department of Religious Studies dates to 1932, as best we can tell, but only in 1966-7 did the university — just like public universities all across the US — make the changes necessary for students to study religion in a manner that satisfied the requirements of the US Constitution’s First Amendment. Practically speaking, that meant moving away from having a variety of campus chaplains offering theologically-oriented courses to hiring Ph.D.s trained in what was quickly emerging as the academic study of religion (usually called Religious Studies in North America). Continue reading →
“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 →
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
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).
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!
Yesterday evening the Department hosted its first annual REL Honors Research Symposium that showcased our undergraduates’ own independent research. Our panelists Andie Alexander (a grad of REL), Jordan Atkinson, Seth Cox, Wesley Davidson, and Katelyn Smith presented their research—most of which was produced as a final paper for different courses in the department—on varying topics ranging from history and narrative, to religious/social identification, redefinition, and inter-generational differences. Continue reading →