PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Preliminary Program Book (PDF)

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Online Program Book

  • Presidential Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces
Theme: Redefining the Public Sphere: The Case of 21st-Century Islam
Laurie Louise Patton, Middlebury College, Presiding
Saturday - 11:45 AM-12:45 PM

This session will explore the ways in which new participants in the public sphere actually redefine it. Ever since 9-11, those working on the study of Islam have borne an extra burden and responsibility to explain Islam and connect Islam with other religious and secular traditions within the United States. How does this activity work best? How has simply being Muslim and speaking up served to re-define the public space in the United States? What are the particular challenges for the mid-twenty first century non-traditional scholar of Islam in influencing public discourse about Islam? Three scholars and activists, who work in creative spaces in between the academy and the multiple publics surrounding and intersecting with it, will share their thoughts in conversation with Laurie L. Patton, AAR President.

Linda Komaroff, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Eboo Patel, Interfaith Youth Core
Kameelah Rashad, Muslim Wellness Foundation
  • Presidential Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces
Theme: Presidential Address - Laurie Patton
José I. Cabezón, University of California, Santa Barbara, Presiding
Saturday - 7:30 PM-8:30 PM


Laurie Louise Patton, Middlebury College
  • Presidential Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces
Theme: Expanding the Public Sphere: Plenary Conversation with Kate Bowler and AAR President Laurie Patton on Becoming a Public Intellectual
Laurie Louise Patton, Middlebury College, Presiding
Sunday - 11:45 AM-12:45 PM

After Kate Bowler’s 2013 book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, became an unexpected public hit, she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer at the age of 35.
Kate was faced with the ironic situation of “being an expert on “health wealth and happiness while being ill.” Her 2018 memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason, is a memoir exploring that existential irony, and the ways in the American belief that tragedy is a test of character shaped her own response to illness. Now a speaker in high demand, Kate will engage with AAR President Laurie Patton on her transformation. Their conversation will focus on what it has meant for Kate to become a public intellectual in the midst of being a scholar, teacher, mother, wife, and cancer survivor. In her own “expansion of the public sphere,” Kate has explored questions of divine will and justice in contexts far outside of academe. What has shifted in her understandings of the role of the scholar in the world? How has her own thinking about public life in America changed since she has started writing for and speaking to larger audiences? Do the questions Kate raises about the American prosperity gospel changed public discourse about illness, divine will, and tragedy ?

Kate Bowler, Duke University
  • Presidential Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces
  • Sessions Honoring AAR Award Winners
Public Understanding of Religion Committee
Theme: 2019 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion Forum: Wade Clark Roof
Erik Owens, Boston College, Presiding
Sunday - 3:30 PM-5:00 PM

Wade Clark Roof is the 2019 recipient of the Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. Roof is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he founded and directed the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion and Public Life. Trained as a sociologist of religion, and the author of fourteen books, he is widely known for his scholarship on the cultural, civic, and political effects of religious pluralism in the United States, and in particular on the spiritual lives of the baby boomer generation. Under his leadership, the Capps Center consistently brought together multiple publics -- scholars, students, Santa Barbara residents, journalists, scientists, elected officials, and more -- for extended conversations about key matters of common concern. The Marty Award recognizes Professor Roof’s many contributions as a public scholar, institution builder, and advocate for religious studies and the humanities.

In this year’s Marty Award Forum, E.J. Dionne (university professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University, W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, and syndicated columnist for the Washington Post) will serve as interlocutor for an extended public dialogue about Roof’s life and work.

Wade Clark Roof, University of California, Santa Barbara
E.J. Dionne, Brookings Institute, Washington Post
  • Presidential Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces
Theme: Creating a Public Sphere: A Conversation about Religion Online 25 Years out
Laurie Louise Patton, Middlebury College, Presiding
Monday - 11:45 AM-12:45 PM

Is it possible to create comprehensive and comprehensible debate about religion on the Internet of 2019? Or are we doomed to click-bait, trolls, and the constant on-line chatter that makes compelling public scholarship about religion virtually impossible? Join AAR President Laurie L. Patton as she talks to several writers who believe it’s possible, despite the algorithms that work against us. Anthea Butler is Associate Professor at University of Pennsylvania, the author of several books on Pentecostalism in America, and a public intellectual who uses many forms of social media to “give it to you chaser.”
Andrew Henry is the founder of “Religion for Breakfast," a YouTube channel with over 80,000 subscribers dedicated to promoting religious literacy and the study of religion online. Andrew is also the YouTube channel manager at The Atlantic and a PhD candidate at Boston University.

Anthea Butler, University of Pennsylvania
Andrew Henry, Boston University