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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) by no later than June 15, 2015. In this request to register please include your current degree or professional career stage.