Russell McCutcheon

Russell T. McCutcheon

Professor |
Department Chair

Office Hours

By appointment


The Religious Studies Project

Culture on the Edge


Russell T. McCutcheon, who came to The University of Alabama’s Department of Religious Studies as its Department Chair in the summer of 2001, was trained at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) and the University of Toronto, where he received his Ph.D. in the academic study of religion in 1995. He came to the U.S. from Canada in 1993, to teach full time as an Instructor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1993-96); from 1996 to 2001 he was an Assistant and then Associate Professor at Southwest Missouri State University (Springfield; now known as Missouri State University). Since 2005 he has held the rank of Professor.

He stepped down as chair at the end of the 2008-9 academic year and, in August of 2013, he was reappointed to the role of department chair.

His areas of interest include the history of scholarship on myths and rituals, the history of the publicly-funded academic study of religion as practiced in the U.S., secularism, theories of religion, as well as the relations between the classification “religion” itself and the rise of the nation-state. He has written a wide number of books, including his first, Manufacturing Religion (1997) and Studying Religion: An Introduction (2007), as well as publishing a several collections of his own essays–with A Modest Proposal on Method (2015) and Entanglements (2015) being among the more recent–while also editing journals and editing or co-editing a variety of resources in the field (such as The Guide to the Study of Religion [2000], Fabricating Origins [2015], Fabricating Identities [2017], and Religion in 5 Minutes [2017]). Forthcoming in 2018 are two new collections of his essays: Religion in Theory and Practice (Equinox) and Fabricating Religion (Walter de Gruyter).

Also, he is the series editor for Religion in Culture and Critical Categories in the Study of Religion (both with Routledge), an earlier series now published by Bloomsbury (Controversies in the Study of Religion), and co-editor of Supplements to MTSR (published by Brill).

Learn more about Prof. McCutcheon

See his A Good Book episode.

Courses Taught

McCutcheon regularly teaches large enrollment sections of REL 100 Introduction to the Study of Religion as well as a wide variety of courses and upper-level seminars in the Department (on such topics as theories of religion and the rhetoric of religious experience).

Selected Publications

You can read Prof. McCutcheon’s current writing via his many appearances on blogs, such as the Department’s or Culture on the Edge, as well as these sample publications:

“Three Dots and a Dash,” web essay posted at The Immanent Frame, commenting on Frequencies: A Genealogy of Spirituality

“Africa on Our Minds,” a chapter from The African Diaspora and the Study of Religion (2007)

“They Licked the Platter Clean,” an essay on secularism published in the Fall of 2007 in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

“Words, Words, Words,” a review essay on handbooks in religious studies published in the Fall of 2007 in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

“The Problem of Religion and the Lust for Dogmatic Rule,” a lecture, based on chapter one of Religion and the Domestication of Dissent, presented at the University of Regina, the University of Edmonton, the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Nebraska Wesleyan University, and Rice University

A brief handout on the politics of discourses on religious pluralism (PDF)

“Swapping Stories in the Classroom,” a lecture delivered at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Chicago (both in the Spring of 2004), and which is a chapter of Religion and the Domestication of Dissent

“The Spirit of Politics and the Lust of Dogmatic Rule,”, a lecture delivered at Syracuse University (February 2005), the University of Regina and the University of Alberta, Canada (Fall of 2004) and at Arizona State University (Spring of 2004), and which is also a chapter of Religion and the Domestication of Dissent.

Comments delivered at the University of Alabama, January 18, 2003: “Introductory Remarks on the Academic Study of Islam” (PDF)

An article on the history of work carried out by members of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR): “‘The Common Ground On Which Students of Religion Meet”: Methodology and Theory Within the IAHR”

An essay that represents some of his recent work on the politics of classification: “The Category ‘Religion’ and the Politics of Tolerance” (PDF), published in the multi-authored book, Defining Religion: Investigating the Boundaries Between the Sacred and Secular

“Religion, Ire, and Dangerous Things,” a 2004 essay in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion on controversies over recent research on the category “religion”

“Critical Trends in the Study of Religion in the United States,” a 2004 essay on recent trends in the study of religion in the US, from the edited book, New Approaches to the Study of Religion (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter)