January 22 2018

Willis Jenkins talks to Kristian Petersen about his book "The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity" (Georgetown University Press, 2013), which won the American Academy of Religion’s 2014 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in Constructive-Reflective Studies.

Hussein Rashid, Independent Contractor, Hofstra University

image of a worker's time card being punched

I am an adjunct/contingent/contract employee at multiple universities. I recently decided names matter, because after years of teaching that words mask and reveal truths to my students, what I call the work I do determines how I see myself as an employee.

I am not an adjunct, yet. An adjunct is someone who teaches as a side job. A professional who wants to give back comes and teaches as an adjunct. Professional schools, like law, business, and medicine, may have adjuncts. Their pay as adjuncts are “thank you” gifts that acknowledge time, effort, expertise, and the fact that the adjunct has a full-time job. Therefore, I’m not an adjunct. I do not have a full-time job, and nobody in HigherEd is paying me enough for my time, effort, or expertise. Some places are not even paying me minimum wage, making me question how long they will last when people figure out Costco values us more than HigherEd does. 

John Corrigan, Florida State University, with Charles McCrary, PhD candidate, Florida State University

RSN is pleased to publish this interview between John Corrigan and Florida State University PhD candidate Charles McCrary in anticipation of the conference "How Do We Study Religion and Emotion?", to be held February 19–20, 2015, at the National Humanities Center. The conference is free and open to the public.

Charles McCrary: Hi, Dr. Corrigan. Thanks for doing this interview. We're here to talk about your collaborative research grant from AAR for the study of religion and emotion. So, to start, please tell me a little bit about the project, who is involved, and what it entails.

John Corrigan: In the last twenty-five or so years the academic study of emotion has developed strong momentum across the humanities and social sciences. After a slow start among those who study religion (the AAR turned down a request for a Program Unit Group on it in the early 90s but approved one last year), it has reached a critical mass of interest in a number of subfields in religion. The collaborative project, “How Do We Study Religion and Emotion,” is an effort among scholars from different areas of field to think together about what has been accomplished, where the most promising directions currently are, and how we can jointly forge a language that will enable conversation across subfields as well as with other disciplines. To that end, the following are joining me at the National Humanities Center February 19–20Gail Hamner (Syracuse University), Mark Wynn (University of Leeds), Anna Gade (University of Wisconsin), Donovan Schaefer (University of Oxford), David Morgan (Duke University), June McDaniel (College of Charleston), Diana Cates (University of Iowa), and Sarah Ross (University of Bern). Scholars in religion will attend as well. We are precirculating the papers and intend to publish them in a collection.

CM: I want to ask about the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the project, but first we should talk about the object of study. What is “religion and emotion”? And how is studying it different from just studying emotion?

JC: Studying religion and emotion to some extent has involved actively contesting an ingrained view of emotion in the field of religious studies. Centuries of theological arguments about the nature of emotion, which provided much of the discursive setting for thinking about emotion in the West, were attentive above all to what was called “religious experience.” Much of that theology joined intense feeling to profound spirituality and took emotion as an irreducible datum, insusceptible to critical analysis. That is not to say that theological writing about emotion did not become more sophisticated and layered. Rather, it was the reluctance of theological writers to dissect emotion, to critically analyze its representation and performance, and the gravity of the intellectual traditions that promoted that, that frustrated the coalescence of new ways of thinking about emotion in religion. This particular problem has its cognates in other fields, but religious studies has, for complex reasons, just been slow in getting off the dime. The project visible this winter at the National Humanities Center is an effort to figure out how we can study emotion in religion in such a way as to embrace new perspectives, new science about emotion, and issues of gender and ethnicity, for example, while still responding precisely and productively to the theological arguments that remain embedded in much writing about both religion and emotion.

Sarah Levine, Editor, Religious Studies News

Welcome back, y'all

Welcome back to Religious Studies News. Today, the AAR launched a completely redesigned Religious Studies News. While the new look of RSN is the most immediate change that longtime readers will notice, the design of the site is in service of even larger shifts in editorial direction and publication schedule. What you can expect from RSN now is even deeper focus and reflection on the everyday work of (and the issues faced by) scholars and students in religious studies and theology, and you can expect these reflections to be more timely and relevant.

by Kelly J. Baker, Freelance Writer

Trends in Faculty Employment Status, 1975‐2011

I’ve only had contingent positions. I started adjuncting as a graduate student for extra money. While writing my dissertation, I continued adjuncting at both a community college and a university. I was an adjunct (part-time) instructor at multiple institutions in three different states until I received a full-time non-tenure track job as a lecturer in 2011. I’ve taught at community colleges and big state universities, and for a long time, I taught heavy course loads while keeping up my research and applying for tenure track jobs. I quit my lecturer job because I could not handle the strain of contractual work. Now, I’m a freelance writer, work from home mom, and still a religious studies scholar.

I’ll say it again: I have only had contingent positions.

by Gail Hamner, Syracuse University

"Commodity" spelled out in Scrabble

Riddle me this: when is balance unbalanced? Answer: when it is the stated norm of neoliberalism.1 In general, discussions of “work-life balance” assume balance as a necessary value and frame the project of balance around the individual subject. The bibliography on this issue is large and growing, but few contributions offer much (if any) attention to broad sociocultural dynamics, and none attend to the historical development of the problem itself.  Instead, orchestrated along the lines of raising awareness, instituting administrative programs, and offering “tips” to faculty, most arguments remain within a reformist and individualist frame, intoning regretful concern about the harm of stress to workers (and hence to worker productivity) and upbeat attention to self-help solutions that devolve the “problem” directly onto the individual.

by Eugene V. Gallagher, Connecticut College and Benjamin E. Zeller, Lake Forest College

Topics falling within the category of “new religious movements” have become increasingly prominent in religious studies classrooms over the past few decades. Often tracking media coverage, students have particular interest in groups such as Scientologists, the Westboro Baptist Church, the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints and their Yearning for Zion Ranch, and various New Age gurus ebbs and flows, but their overall fascination with new and alternative religiosity has remained a common feature in our classrooms. Yet instructors face the question of how to translate student interest in these groups into actual student learning. While such a task falls most obviously on those teaching courses focusing on new or alternative religious movements, instructors teaching on a wide array of topics and multiple subfields may wish to engage students in the critical study of this topic.

by Catherine Wessinger, Loyola University New Orleans

Snake handling at Pentecostal Church of God, Lejunior, Harlan County, Kentucky September 15, 1946

I have been researching and writing about new religious movements (NRMs) ever since I unwittingly chose a new religions topic for my dissertation: the lifelong evolving millennial thought of the Englishwoman Annie Besant (1847–1933) who lived in India while serving as the second president of the Theosophical Society and carrying out numerous projects for social, educational, political, and religious uplift and reform. I have been teaching at Loyola University New Orleans for more years than I care to tell my students. There I have taught numerous sections of the course “Religions of the World.” I also teach “Women in World Religions,” “Women in Christianity,” as well as courses on Asian religions, millennialism, and New Orleans religions. I have been integrating what I have learned in new religions studies into these courses.

by Jeremy Rapport, College of Wooster

Snake handling at Pentecostal Church of God, Lejunior, Harlan County, Kentucky September 15, 1946

I am assistant professor of religious studies at the College of Wooster, a small, private, liberal arts college in Northeast Ohio. There I teach the course "New Religions and the New Age." The class is a part of our department's regular ; in fact the job description under which I was hired was written partly with this class in mind, and so I teach the class at least once per academic year, usually during the spring semester. The class is expected to enroll twenty students, although in the five times I have taught it at Wooster, it usually has between twenty-two and twenty-five students. It surveys major new and alternative religious groups and issues. As a 200-level class, it is open to nonmajors, and it also fulfills our "religious perspectives" general education requirement. All of this means, in effect, the class is introductory level, and for the most part I teach it as such.

by Marie W. Dallam, University of Oklahoma

Snake handling at Pentecostal Church of God, Lejunior, Harlan County, Kentucky September 15, 1946

From my earliest days of teaching, I have been a proponent of students thinking “outside of the box” about the types of sources they use for learning. While I am not typically a fan of popular online forums to which many students gravitate, I do think there can be real value in sources that are not of the strict academic-words-on-paper type. I often create assignments that require the use of both academic and nontraditional sources, such as events and site visits, and I include a component in which students reflect critically on the nature and value of all of their sources of information. This became more challenging for me when I left a major metropolitan area and began teaching in the small college town of Norman, Oklahoma, where the range of such sites is limited, as is student mobility. I had to find new ways to have students embrace unusual combinations of sources. The “mini review essay” discussed herein is one possibility for such an assignment. I designed it for an upper-level honors seminar on new religious movements (NRMs), a class of approximately twenty students, and I have been using it since 2010.

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