Religion in

Dr. Merinda Simmons
Associate Professor
Graduate Director

Rhetorics of Authenticity, Poststructuralism and Theories of Gender and Race, Literary Studies, and Postcolonial and Southern Studies

Office Phone: 348-9911
Office: Manly 300

View a copy of Prof. Simmons's cv, here. (PDF)

Learn more about Prof. Simmons

See her ar·ti·facts episode.

What's the Backstory on Prof. Simmons...?

Learn more about Prof. Simmons's monograph:

And her co-edited books:


Dr. Simmons edits the book series Concepts in the Study of Religion: Critical Primers.


Merinda Simmons has a Ph.D. in English and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies.


Research Interests

Her areas of interest include Gender Studies, Southern Studies, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Postcolonial Studies, African American Literature and Theory, Migration and Diaspora Studies

Her current research examines “slave religion,” a category scholars popularized only as recently as the late 1960/early 70s and which many still use to describe antebellum myths and rituals prevalent in slave communities. Several key concepts upon which slave religion discourse relies—including “religion,” “the South,” “the Atlantic,” and “race”—are relatively recent rhetorical phenomena. Their uses prior to the 18th centuries are quite far removed from 20th and 21st-century deployments (scholarly or otherwise). When taken together, their discursive histories begin to tell an interesting story about Black Studies in 20th-century academia, while complicating quests for origins in circum-Atlantic contexts along the way.

This work is an attempt to theorize forward at what is too often an impasse in Black Studies between materialism and postmodernism, taking stock of specific historicities where racial formations and identifications are concerned while pushing forward the productive implications of discourse analysis and poststructuralist fashionings of subjectivity.


Current Projects

Dr. Simmons is currently at work on her second monograph, tentatively entitled Sourcing Slave Religion: Theorizing Experience in the American South. The project historicizes the terms needed in order to deploy the concept of “slave religion,” while also historicizing the politics and theoretical apparatus operative in those deployments.

She is also writing two co-authored books: Race and New Modernisms (contracted for inclusion in Bloomsbury Academic’s New Modernisms series) and Gender: A Critical Primer (contracted with Equinox Publishing).


Courses Taught:

REL 100 Introduction to Religious Studies

REL 105 Honors Introduction to Religious Studies
REL 124 Religion, Media, The South
REL 234 Identifying Gender in Religion
REL 415 Religion in the American South

REL 430 Religion and Literature

REL 419 Slave Religion in the United States
REL 480 Gender Theory and Religion