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In 2018, NAASR will host its fourth Job Market Workshop alongside the AAR/SBL in Denver. Full information about the event can be found below.
NAASR Job Market Workshop CFP
This session proposes to explore the employment challenges facing early career scholars through both a discussion and workshop. This session addresses issues important to junior academics (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 during the session:
In the first half of the session, participants will break into small groups, each led by a more senior scholar. Within their groups, participants will discuss in focused ways 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 the organizers will have pre-distributed among participants. 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 should be ready to share and discuss their CV and sample cover letter with fellow group members (though hopefully all will have some familiarity with the materials in advance to facilitate a more focused workshop).
With the issues and questions from the small-group workshop in mind, the second half of the session will be devoted to an open discussion. The group leaders will begin by providing brief introductory remarks 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 will follow in which participants can talk about these issues in an informal atmosphere and share information. This guided discussion will focus on four central questions related to 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.
III. Continued time for Networking and Conversation–3:00-4:30pm
As our workshop wraps up, we will hold the space for continued group discussion as well as any breakout sessions or small group discussions that emerge.
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, as stated above, each participant will be invited to provide a sample cover letter and CV for the organizers to pre-distribute. These materials will then be workshopped within their small groups. More details will follow after the participant list has been finalized.
Space is limited to 25 participants in this NAASR workshop, and participants can stay for as long or as little as they like. To register, please e-mail the organizer, Michael Graziano (grazmike [at] gmail [dot] com) by no later than October 15, 2018. In this request to register please include your current degree or professional career stage.
Table of Contents
Philip L. Tite
Matthew R. Hotham
Tyler M. Tully
Joseph P. Laycock
A subcommittee of NAASR’s executive council nominated Brad Stoddard as the person to follow Craig Martin as NAASR’s next Executive Secretary/Treasurer, as Craig’s 5-year term ends this summer. Although originally appointed to the nominating committee himself (inasmuch as he is a member of the executive), Brad excused himself when conversations turned to his possible candidacy. And the executive has now voted by email and agrees with their nomination. So we’re happy to announce that Brad—a tenure-track professor at McDaniel College (where, by the way, he works with former NAASR President, Greg Alles) and grad of Florida State, who studies, among other things, the role of religion in the US’s prison system—will assume this role when Craig’s term ends.
You may have seen Brad on a variety of NAASR panels or participating in some of our workshops, over the past few years. He’s also involved in The Religious Studies Project—so he’s already an active member of the field and has the energy and organizational skills to follow Craig and to keep Craig’s innovations moving in the right direction.
With the success of the 2015 NAASR program—devoted to examining the current state of theory in the study of religion with four main papers plus responses—the 2016 program will retain the same format but turn its attention instead to the closely related topic of method. And because of the wide variety of methods used in the cross-disciplinary study of religion, we’re proposing narrowing the focus to four key tools that all scholars of religion surely employ, regardless their approach to the study of religion: description, interpretation, comparison, and explanation.
Description: Naomi Goldenberg (University of Ottowa)
Emily Crews (University of Chicago)
Ian Cuthbertson (Queen’s University)
Neil George (York University)
Dan McClellan (University of Exeter)
Interpretation: Kevin Schilbrack (Appalachian State University)
Mark Gardner and Steven Engler (Mount Royal University)
Joshua Lupo (Florida State University)
Matt Sheedy (University of Manitoba)
Jennifer Eyl (Tufts University)
Comparison: Aaron W. Hughes (University of Rochester)
Lucas Carmichael (University of Colorado)
Thomas Carrico (Florida State University)
Drew Durdin (University of Chicago)
Stacie Swain (University of Ottawa)
Explanation: Ann Taves and Egil Asprem (University of California—Santa Barbara)
Spencer Dew (Centenary College)
Joel Harrison (Northwestern University)
Paul Kenny (SOAS, UK)
Erin Roberts (University of South Carolina)
Examining each of these in turn will open conversations on far wider topics of relevance to NAASR’s mission, such as description being intimately linked to ethnography, viewpoint, first person authority (to name but a few). In much the same way, detailed consideration of the other three tools also leads into conversations on the basics of the field. For instance, having survived critiques of comparison as ethnocentric, what is the future of comparative studies and how ought they to be carried out? Given the once dominant, but for some now discredited, place of hermeneutical approaches what is entailed in the interpretation of meaning today? And, despite their once prominent place several generations ago, what does one make of the continuing lack of interest in the academy in naturalistic, explanatory theories of religion? This focus on method, by means of these four basic tools, therefore will provide us with an opportunity to assess the current state of the field.
The four main papers will be pre-circulated to members prior to the conference, and thus will only be summarized briefly at their sessions; the remainder of the sessions will be devoted to responses and open conversation. In addition, all of the papers will be published in a future, special issue of MTSR.
This opening in religious studies might be of interest to NAASR members:
The position is attached to the subject area Religious Studies within the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University. The subject area Religious Studies offers a dynamic, research-oriented context with a strong commitment to excellence in teaching and curriculum development. Research and teaching in Religious Studies at UU is carried out in collaboration with the subject area Islam and Arabic, as well as with other programs within the Faculty of Humanities and beyond.
The following new book series—published in association with NAASR—might be of interest to members; see the publisher’s site for more information.
Books in the series Concepts in the Study of Religion: Critical Primers offer brief introductions to an array of concepts—modes of analysis, tools, as well as analytic terms themselves—within the discourse of religious studies. Useful for almost any course, the volumes in the series do not attempt to assert normative understandings but rather they introduce and survey the various modes and contexts for scholarly engagement with the concept at hand. How, for example, has the term ‘myth’ been used, and what can various definitions allow us to do as scholars? Who in the field is working on the category of race and how? What might be the future of scholarship on gender in religious studies? What are the possibilities and limitations of description or comparison as methodological approaches? Thus, these critical primers provide — but are not limited to — concise overviews of the history of an approach or term. They also present the authors’ own critical analyses of the dynamics and stakes present in discourses surrounding these concepts. Featuring lists of further readings to guide additional consideration of their topic, the books in this series are valuable resources for students and advanced scholars alike.
K. Merinda Simmons, University of Alabama
The following new book series might be of interest to NAASR members; download this pdf for more information.
Critiquing Religion: Discourse, Culture, Power publishes works that historicize both religions and modern discourses on ‘religion’ that treat it as a unique object of study. Using diverse methodologies and social theories, volumes in this series view religions and discourses on religion as commonplace rhetorics, authenticity narratives, or legitimating myths which function in the creation, maintenance, and contestation of social formations. Works in the series are on the cutting edge of critical scholarship, regarding ‘religion’ as just another cultural tool used to gerrymander social space and distribute power relations in the modern world. Critiquing Religion: Discourse, Culture, Power provides a unique home for reflexive, critical work in the field of religious studies.
Craig Martin, St. Thomas Aquinas College
Richard King, University of Kent
Bruce Lincoln, University of Chicago
K. Merinda Simmons, University of Alabama
Leslie Dorrough Smith, Avila University
Hugh Urban, Ohio State University