By Jeanne H. Kilde
This semester we continue to grow our course offerings in religious studies, adding several new cross-listed courses including,
- Anthropologist John Soderberg's Religion and Archaeology course
- Historian Kirsten Fischer's courses, Sinners, Saints, and Savages: Religion in Early America and Religion and the Founding of the United States: Contests Then and Now
- Literary specialist Nabil Matar's Muslims and Jews in Early Modern English Literature
- Historian Daniel Schroeter's Muslims and Jews: Conflict and Coexistence in the Middle East and North Africa since 1700
These and many other courses, focusing on religion across traditions, time periods, and geographical regions, are available to students in the program.
The religious studies graduate minor is also up and running with new director of graduate studies Ann Waltner (Institute for Advanced Study, history, Asian languages and literatures). Designed to pair up with graduate study in a host of areas--including history, literature, American studies, Asian languages and literatures, journalism, anthropology, sociology, and many more--the graduate minor requires the Theory and Methods in the Study of Religion course, along with two more courses on the M.A. level and three on the Ph.D. level.
The success of this new graduate minor reflects the increasing importance of the study of religion within traditional disciplines, a growing trend in academia. The American Historical Society, for instance, recently announced that the specialty most frequently selected by their members (over 15,000) to describe their primary research interest is now history of religion. This category beat out the former favorite, cultural history, by just a hair, but its steep growth curve promises its continued dominance for some time. A link to more information on the AHA report is available on the Religious Studies Web site home page. From what I've seen, interest in religion is gaining ground in a number of other disciplines as well.
My best wishes for a great semester and lovely autumn season go out to everyone. If you happen to wander through this neck of the woods, do stop in and say hello!