Dedicated to historical, critical, and social scientific approaches to the study of religion, as well as a relentlessly reflexive critique of the theories, methods, and categories used in such study.

Theory in a Time of Excess

Along with Luther H. Martin and Don Wiebe’s reflection on the history of NAASR (“Establishing a Beachhead”), we are pre-circulating the papers for the “Theory in the Time of Excess” program, as a part of our 2015 annual meeting. Full program details can be found here.

  1. “On the Restraint of Theory,” Jason N. Blum
  2. “What the Cognitive Science of Religion Is (And Is Not),” Claire White
  3. “Of Cognitive Science, Bricolage, and Brandom,” Matt Bagger
  4. “The High Stakes of Identifying (with) One’s Object of Study,” Merinda Simmons

Seats Still Available for the NAASR Job Workshop

NAASR’s 2015 workshop, “…But What Do You Study?”: A Workshop on Theory and Method in the Job Market, still has some seats available. Contact Mike Graziano if you’re interested—details below.

This session, to be held as a part of the NAASR program this November in Atlanta, proposes to explore the employment challenges facing early career scholars who are interested in issues of theory & method in the study of religion, through both a discussion and workshop. This session addresses issues important to junior NAASR members (notably, but not exclusively, ABDs now entering/about to enter the job market) by demonstrating how a professional organization can provide a practical and strategic forum for job-market advice.

The following activities will take place in this 90 min. workshop:

1. Open Discussion

The first half of the session will be devoted to an open discussion, led by Martha G. Newman (University of Texas at Austin) and Merinda Simmons(University of Alabama). Each will begin by providing brief introductory remarks (approx. 5 minutes each) on what they each see as constructive and strategic advice for early career scholars who are navigating the academic job market, aimed initially at how applicants can be strategic not only in trying to ascertain a Department’s needs but also in negotiating potential theoretical and political landmines in the field. A discussion (35 min.) will follow in which participants can discuss these issues in an informal atmosphere and share information. This guided discussion will therefore focus on four central questions, namely, how might early career scholars interested in theory and method:

  • represent themselves strategically on the job market?
  • apply to calls for general positions, fitting themselves to broad departmental needs?
  • shape their cover letters and CVs to appeal to a wide range of departments?
  • respond to critiques that they have no “specialty,” “content,” or “area of study”?

The discussion is designed to reflect different opinions regarding the place of theory & method in the job market, as well as in the study of religion more generally.

2. Workshop

In the second half, participants will break into small groups, each led by a more senior NAASR member. Building on the previous discussion, participants will work within their groups to workshop how they might best represent themselves, their work, and their scholarly interests on the job market. The smaller setting will allow for more “hands on” advice, taking as examples the CV and cover letters participants can bring with them to the session. Simply focusing on what one says in a cover letter’s opening paragraph, for example, or how one orders a C.V., will provide the way into larger questions of representation in these small group discussions. Participants in this section will have an opportunity to work with John E. Llewellyn(Missouri State), Russell McCutcheon (University of Alabama), Martha G. Newman (University of Texas at Austin), Steven Ramey (University of Alabama), and Merinda Simmons (University of Alabama).

Scholars of all concentrations within the field of Religious Studies are welcome to join the workshop—whether a NAASR member or not—though preference will be given to early career scholars, particularly those at the senior ABD stage (i.e., those already on or going onto the job market). Shortly before the workshop, but once the participants have been identified, each participant will be invited to share with the other members, via email or a closed social media group, their academic focus/dissertation topic, level of teaching experience, their level of experience with the job market as well as their own current position (e.g., PhD Student, Postdoc, Instructor, etc.) in order to ensure all participants come to the meeting somewhat familiar with the diversity of experience in the workshop. In addition, each participant will be invited to bring one sample cover letter and one sample CV which may be used in the small group activities. More details will follow after the participant list has been finalized.

Space is limited to 25 participants in this NAASR workshop. To register, please e-mail the organizer, Michael Graziano ( In this request to register please include your current degree or professional career stage.


NAASR’s executive council is pleased to announce two new partnerships that we believe will benefit our membership!

First, many of you are likely familiar with The Religious Studies Project, the excellent podcast series sponsored by the British Association for the Study of Religion (BASR). NAASR has recently joined BASR as a sponsor for the project; we will be donating funds to support a number of their endeavors, with the hope that they will continue to create content useful to—or even featuring—NAASR members.

Second, the executive council has decided to enter into a two-year agreement with Equinox Publishing (beginning in 2016), to provide an online subscription to all members for the Bulletin for the Study of Religion, which is currently published in affiliation with NAASR. Starting next year, then, membership benefits will include electronic subscriptions to both the Bulletin and Method & Theory in the Study of Religion.

NAASR Annual Reception, co-sponsored by Equinox Publishing

NAASR and Equinox Publishing are pleased to announce the details for our reception at the upcoming annual conference in Atlanta:

Date: Friday, 20 November 2015

Time: 7pm-9pm

Location: Publik Draft House, 654 Peachtree Street NE (click here for a map)

We look forward to seeing you there for food, drinks, and conversation!

Call for Papers: Religious Studies and Theology

Religious Studies and Theology—a journal for which several NAASR members serve on the editorial board—is looking for submissions. This peer-reviewed journal publishes in June and December; however manuscripts are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Religious Studies and Theology welcomes original research pertinent to the contemporary world from a range of disciplines, with a particular interest in Canadian perspectives and/or studies of Canada from abroad and in relation to global contexts.

Manuscript submission is easily completed online here. Submissions are sent by the Editor to two peer-reviewers in a double-blind process. You will be notified within one week of submission if your manuscript has been sent for review. You will be notified of the decision within approximately three months and will be provided with a copy of reviewer comments.

Books of Interest: Jacob Neusner on Religion

Aaron W. Hughes, Jacob Neusner on Religion (Routledge, 2015).

Jacob Neusner was a prolific and innovative contributor to the study of religion for over fifty years. A scholar of rabbinic Judaism, Neusner regarded Jewish texts as data to address larger questions in the academic study of religion that he helped to formulate. Jacob Neusner on Religion offers the first full critical assessment of his thought on the subject of religion. Aaron W. Hughes delineates the stages of Neusner’s career and provides an overview of Neusner’s personal biography and critical reception. This book is essential reading for students and scholars interested in Neusner specifically, or in the history of Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, and philosophy of religion more broadly.

This is the latest volume in Routledge’s Key Thinkers in the Study of Religion series, sponsored by NAASR.

Books of Interest: Claiming Identity in the Study of Religion

Focusing on the academic study of religion, Claiming Identity in the Study of Religion is the first in a series that grapples with the historicity of identity and the social and rhetorical techniques that make claims to identity possible.

In this volume, six previously published essays by scholar of religion Russell T. McCutcheon are each coupled with a new substantive commentary by North American contributors. McCutcheon’s essays highlight different identifying claims within the work of a number of leading scholars of religion. The companion contributions analyze the strategies of identification employed by the scholars whom McCutcheon discusses. Monica R. Miller provides an introduction to the volume and Steven W. Ramey provides a concluding essay. The strategies of identification highlighted and exposed in this text are further explored in the second volume in the series, The Problem of Nostalgia in the Study of Identity through a set of detailed ethnographic and historical studies that press novel ways of studying identity as an always active and ongoing process of signification.


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