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2016 Annual Meeting, San Antonio

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Program Schedule

Details about participates in NAASR 2016’s “Method Today” annual meeting are listed immediately below.

“Description”
10:00am-11:50am, Friday, November 18—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

“Interpretation”
1:00pm-2:50pm, Friday, November 18—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

“Comparison”
3:00pm-4:50pm, Friday, November 18—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

Annual Reception, Co-Sponsored with Equinox Publishing
7:00pm-9:00pm, Friday, November 18, at the Yard House River Walk

“After Nongbri: Was there Greek and Roman Religion in the Ancient World?”
NAASR Co-Sponsored SBL Panel
9:00am-11:30am, Saturday, November 19—Conference Room 14 at the Marriott Rivercenter

Business Meeting
1:00pm-1:50pm, Saturday, November 19—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

“Explanation”
9:00am-10:50am, Sunday, November 20—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

“…But What Do You Study?”: A NAASR Workshop on Theory & Method in the Job Market
1:00pm-5:00pm, Sunday, November 20—La Reina Room at the Hilton Palacio del Rio
-Seats reserved. Email grazmike@gmail.com to register

 


Method Today

NAASR’s 2016 program, which will take place in San Antonio, TX, is intended to create opportunities for specialists from across our field, all of whom are at a variety of different career stages, to investigate what “method” means in the study of religion today.

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, comparison,interpretation, and explanation.

The program committee is therefore inviting members to consider the place of each of these in the study of religion—recognizing that examining each opens 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 (E.g., 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 provides us with an opportunity to assess the current state of the field.

As with the 2015 program, three scholars who work in a variety of subfields will respond to each of the four main papers (thereby involving 16 participants in total). The four main, pre-circulated papers will only be summarized briefly at their sessions and a large portion of the sessions will again be reserved for open conversations; the goal is that all of the papers will then be published in a special issue of MTSR. Unlike last year, however, the Program Committee will commission the four main generative papers (based on hopes that they eventually contribute to a new NAASR book series, to be announced soon).

1. “Description,” Naomi Goldenberg (University of Ottowa)
10:00am-11:50am, Friday, November 18—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

Respondents:
Emily Crews (University of Chicago)
Ian Cuthbertson (Queen’s University)
Neil George (York University)
Dan McClellan (University of Exeter)

2. “Interpretation,” Kevin Schilbrack (Appalachian State University)
1:00pm-2:50pm, Friday, November 18—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

Respondents:
Mark Gardiner and Steven Engler (Mount Royal University)
Joshua Lupo (Florida State University)
Matt Sheedy (University of Manitoba)
Jennifer Eyl (Tufts University)

3. “Comparison,” Aaron W. Hughes (University of Rochester)
3:00pm-4:50pm, Friday, November 18—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

Respondents:
Lucas Carmichael (University of Colorado)
Thomas Carrico (Florida State University)
Drew Durdin (University of Chicago
Stacie Swain (University of Ottawa)

Annual Reception, Co-Sponsored with Equinox Publishing
7:00pm-9:00pm, Friday, November 18, at the Yard House River Walk
Location TBD

Business Meeting
1:00pm-1:50pm, Saturday, November 19—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

4. “After Nongbri: Was there Greek and Roman Religion in the Ancient World”
9:00am-11:30am, Saturday, November 19—Conference Room 14 at the Marriott Rivercenter

James Hanges, Miami University, Presiding

Presenters:
Frederick Brenk (Pontifical Biblical Institute), “Looking for the Concept ‘Religion’ in Ancient Greek”
Nickolas Roubekas (North-West University), “Before ‘Religio’? Etymological and Semantic Time-Traveling but only Within ‘Our’ Comfort Space”
Vaia Touna (University of Alabama), “‘Religion after Nongbri’: Locating the Past”
Craig Martin and Savannah Finver (St. Thomas Aquinas College), “On the Costs of Conceptual Anachronism”

Respondent:
Brent Nongbri (Macquarie University)

5. “Explanation,” Ann Taves and Egil Asprem (University of California—Santa Barbara)
9:00am-10:50am, Sunday, November 20—El Mirador C East at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

Respondents:
Spencer Dew (Centenary College)
Joel Harrison (Northwestern University)
Paul Kenny (SOAS, UK)
Erin Roberts (University of South Carolina)

 


“…But What Do You Study?”: A NAASR Workshop on Theory & Method in the Job Market

1:00pm-5:00pm, Sunday, November 20—La Reina Room at the Hilton Palacio del Rio

This session 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 during the session:

I. Workshop

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).

II. Open Discussion

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.

**

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. To register, please e-mail the organizer, Michael Graziano (grazmike [at] gmail [dot] com) by no later than October 15, 2016. In this request to register please include your current degree or professional career stage.

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