November 24 2017

The Teaching and Learning Committee is pleased to announce Joanne Maguire Robinson is the recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Teaching Award. Robinson is Associate Professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Robinson will make remarks and engage questions and answers during the Special Topics Forum at this year's Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX. (Editor's note: Nominations for the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Awards are welcome through October 15, 2016.)

 
With the AAR's Annual Meeting fast approaching—a time when hundreds of candidates flock to a set of first-round interviews for positions in religious studies and theology departments across the country—we were thankful to receive this flyer from the University of Arizona's Commission on the Status of Women as a reminder to applicants, letter writers, and letter readers, about identifying and avoiding gender bias in letters of recommendation. Click the image for a larger version to print and share.


 

by Maria Liu Wong, City Seminary of New York

Henri Matisse's "Tea in the Garden" (1919)

“Work-life balance” is a tenuous phrase. Is it possible to imagine that there can ever be real balance, or is it something we might think of instead as a “work-life proportion” in a particular season of time? A mother of three young children ages 2 years to 9 years, working full-time as an administrator and faculty in a seminary, and having spent the past three years of my life working on a dissertation on women and leadership in theological education, this notion of “work-life balance” has been on my mind A LOT. In a recent conversation with my pastor—a very busy man himself who spent a season of his life as primary caretaker for his sons while his wife was working the day shift—I was challenged me to think beyond the idea of “work-life balance,” but more in terms of proportions of time spent doing one thing versus the other.

Interviewed by Kristian Petersen

In 1491, the king of the west central African kingdom of Kongo was baptized as a Christian by Portuguese missionaries, and in so doing, he ushered a unique and centuries-long relationship between the Kongo kingdom and European political and religious powers. Cécile Fromont, assistant professor of art history at the University of Chicago, describes the beliefs and material culture of Christianity that developed in the kingdom as a result of the transatlantic trade of goods and ideas.

Cécile Fromont is the author of The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo (UNC Press, published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2014), which won the AAR's 2015 Award for the Best First Book in the History of Religions.

The American Lectures in the History of Religions (ALHR) is proud to welcome Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz (University of Maryland) to speak in a series of public lectures in the Chicago area from October 24 to the 28, 2016. Dr. Keshavarz’s lecture series is entitled Unsilencing the Sacred: Conversations with the Divine, and in them she will explore the works of poets such as Omar Khayyam, Hafez of Shiraz, Sa’di, Jalal al-Din Rumi, and ‘Attar of Nishabur.

In addition to her lectures in Chicago, Dr. Keshavarz will offer a general summation of her series at the 2016 AAR Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, on November 20.

by Mary E. Hunt, WATER

Privilege is a major factor in life/work balance. Sure, all of us can learn how to say no, put exercise first, eat healthily, get plenty of rest, and set up date nights. But race, class, sexual orientation/identity, age, ethnicity, etc., play pivotal roles in our options and whether we can exercise them.

I do not mean to imply that only privileged women can live balanced lives. Many do not. But colleagues who are loaded with debt, supporting parents as well as children, dealing with complex commuting arrangements, facing health challenges, and the like simply do not have the same luxury to decide whether they will start their day at the health club or end it with a massage. Achieving life-work balance becomes one more item on an already too long to-do list. For many colleagues survival is the goal.

Zip bag filled with yellow pins that read "hire humanities"

Ask Academic Abby about what's bugging you right now. Several women in the profession have volunteered to answer your questions about professional concerns. Contact them!

Early this month, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced the awarding of $79 million in grants for over 300 humanities projects, many of which support religious studies research.

A total of over $2 million dollars in grants was awarded to projects focusing on religious studies. Many of the grantees are active members of the AAR. We extend warm congratulations to our following members:

David Albertson (University of Southern California)

Project Title: The Tegernsee Debate on Love and Reason: Mystical Letters and Treatises in Late Medieval Germany

Project Description: Preparation of a one-volume English translation of fifteenth-century Latin documents written at Tegernsee Monastery, Germany, debating the value of Christian piety and reason in identifying common ground with Judaism and Islam.

by Amy Elizabeth Jacober, PhD

Even as I write this, I am watching my children play in the backyard. I woke early had a cup of tea, finished one article to hit today’s deadline before making breakfast. Today was a banner day. There are plenty of days that I wake early with the best of intentions only to find a small child wanting—no, needing—to be held for the precious twenty minutes before we really hit the ground running. I have to make choices. My students, quite frankly, rarely care if they have to wait an extra day or two for feedback. There will always be one more comment to make, one more reference letter to write, and one more chapter to edit. I am a Type-A personality by nature, and in previous years I really could accomplish a ridiculous amount. That is still the picture of who I am in my head but reality is that there are just not enough hours in the day.

by Kimberly Carfore, California Institute of Integral Studies

Every morning is the same—my day begins with a trip to the coffeepot. On the way to the kitchen I pass a printout of my thirty-week marathon training schedule posted on the wall next to the refrigerator. With a fresh cup of coffee in hand, I glance to see what my body should prepare for later in the day—two miles, eight miles, 12 miles? I say “what my body should prepare for” and not “what I should prepare my body for.” This subtle distinction embodies the way I balance my work and life as a doctoral student.

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