The Year That Was


Here are some highlights from the 2015-2016 academic year. Take a look!


2015-2016: The Year That Was from UA Religious Studies.

The 14th Annual Aronov Lecture

glaude blog postBack in March, Dr. Eddie Glaude, the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University (and incoming President of the American Academy of Religion [AAR]), presented his lecture, titled “Democracy in Black: The Value Gap,” as the Religious Studies Department’s 14th annual Aronov Lecture. (Learn more about this annual lecture series.)

Did you miss it?

Not to worry! You can follow the link below or watch it here.

Our thanks to Caity Walker and Jared Powell for filming and posting the lecture.

The 14th Annual Aronov Lecture: Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. from UA Religious Studies.

Rethinking Public Religion


Lately I’ve been getting emails about a summer school on the topic of public religion — specifically, on “how different forms of religion and religiosity meander through social realities today.”

Like the problematic notion of material religion (critiqued here), the idea that religions can be either private and public is a troublesome one that we seem not to be able to get beyond. It’s a notion given significant steam about 20 years ago with the publication of the book pictured above; as described on the publisher’s site: Continue reading

Report from the Public Universities Chairs Workshop


Dr. Kevin Schilbrack (pictured above, right) is a professor of Religious Studies and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University. He was recently at the University of Alabama for the inaugural workshop for public university Religious Studies department chairs and offers the following report.

Like many other department chairs, I suspect, I became chair after years of teaching, writing, and generally being collegial – but I received little or no training on how to be a chair.   And the work as chair of a department of Religious Studies in a public university comes with its own particular set of issues.  What does the study of religions include when it is in a state-supported setting?  Where can we profitably collaborate with other disciplines?  And perhaps, above all, how can we recruit new students to the academic study of religions? To create a forum where department chairs could meet and work on questions like these, we came together for what we hope is the first annual workshop for chairs of departments of Religious Studies. Continue reading

The End is Here and Brings Big Things

relephanttextcitedThe semester is complete, and our seniors have walked across that stage. All semester I have had the privilege of working with the Capstone Senior Seminar, applying questions and ideas from our work to a broad range of topics and presenting them through various social media, from Twitter to Tumblr. Their final Digital Projects are now published, so you should take a look at the range of their creative approaches to expressing the significance of critical questions to many topics, from war to food to Yik Yak.

Think Again creatively presents different perspectives on an event, raising questions about history and memory.

Nothing: The Podcast discusses a variety of current events in the context of issues of identity and deconstruction, with a bit of humor thrown in.

A (re)Movable Feast considers the structures and social relations connected to food through a Tumblr blog.

#490Perspective is an Instagram project looking at how different people photograph an object and analyzing the issues that the different perspectives raise.

Classification in the Syrian Refugee Crisis is a video presentation that considers the significance and debate surrounding classification in the context of the crisis in Syria.

The Identity Project involves a series of blogposts on the question of social media (including Tinder, YikYak, and email) and their influence on how people construct and present their own identities.

Their blogposts and connections to the Twitter and Tumblr pages for the class over the course of the semester are all available through the course webpage. Thanks to the seminar students for all of their work and creative approaches to demonstrating a few of the ways their work is significant beyond what we commonly define as religion.

10 Things I Learned at the REL Film Studios


Russell McCutcheon wrote a post on this blog recently in which he talked about the history and development of our filmmaking ventures here at REL, and as a student worker heavily involved in producing the films, I felt the need to respond to his post. For about two years now I’ve been planning, directing, filming, and editing our department’s videos, with some help from Andie of course, and the process came with a bit of a learning curve. So now, as I pass my knowledge on to the next REL filmmaker, Caity Walker, I’ve assembled a “top 10” list of tips that I’ve learned over the years. Continue reading

“Are You From Horry County, M’am…?”


Looking for a dissertation topic?

Then here’s a 7 minute video you could write a book on, easily.

Maybe two. Continue reading

“I’m Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. DeMille”


Yes, our Department is in the movie business.

Maybe you’ve seen one of our films, posted on Facebook or Twitter from our Vimeo account.


I’ve been approached three or four times, over the past couple of years, for information on how we do this, so I thought I’d write a quick post for those who are game to give it a try in their own Departments. Continue reading

#RELChairsWorkshop Storified


As was announced not long ago, Department chairs (or their representatives), from around the country, came to town last Friday for a day-long workshop. Until we have a more systematic report available, it seemed sensible to collect up the tweets and supplement them a bit, so you can see what we were talking about.


Continue reading

REL Graduates Head Off to Do Great Things


We have great students here in REL. When they graduate they go off to do great things. (You can hear about some of the things our graduates do at our Grad Tales events.) We are proud of all of the REL majors that are graduating. Four of this year’s REL graduates are going off to pursue further academic work in graduate school:


Jared being recognized for all his hard work in REL at the 2016 Honors Day reception

Jared Powell and his perfectly pressed pants will be working towards his M.A. in English here at the University of Alabama. Jared was the Outstanding Student in the Academic Study of Religion in 2014 and a Silverstein Scholar in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. He also made some pretty good movies and photoshop images while working in the REL office.


Khortlan receiving her 2015 Outstanding Student award.

Khortlan Patterson will be heading off to Princeton Theological Seminary. Along with her active work within the UA campus community, Khortlan was a Silverstein Scholar four years in a row from 2013-2014 through 2016-2017 and was an Outstanding Student in the Academic Study of Religion in 2015.


Sarah presenting her research at SECSOR, the southeastern regional conference of the American Academy of Religion

Sarah Griswold will be heading south. She’ll be attending Florida State University where she’ll work toward her M.A. in the Religious Studies Department. Sarah was the 2016 Outstanding Student in the Academic Study of Religion and her essay “There is a Well at Cawnpore” won multiple awards for undergraduate research.


Sierra accepting her 2014-2015 Silverstein Scholars award from Prof. Jacobs

Sierra accepting her 2014-2015 Silverstein Scholars award from Prof. Jacobs

Sierra Loya is New Haven bound! She’ll be attending Yale Divinity School in the fall. Sierra was a Silverstein Scholar in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

Congratulations! We’re all very proud of you!