PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Boston, MA
November 18-21, 2017

2017 Annual Meeting Program (PDF)

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Preliminary 2017 Annual Meeting Program (MS Word)

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Sessions
A17-105
  • Books under Discussion
  • Preconference Workshop
  • Presidential Theme: Religion and the Most Vulnerable
Theological Education Workshop
Theme: Resisting Injustice in the Age of Trump
Miguel De La Torre, Iliff School of Theology, University of Denver, Presiding, Presiding
Friday - 9:00 AM-3:00 PM
Hynes Convention Center-312 (Third Level)

This workshop is designed to advance the work initiated in Miguel de la Torre, ed. Faith and Resistance in the Age of Trump (Orbis, 2017) where a diverse group of scholars reflect on a wide range of issues pertaining to how individual scholar/teachers of religion and religious communities of various types think about and engage in praxes of resistance to many of the false assumptions and unjust policies of the Trump Administration. It is intended to provide participants with an opportunity to engage with one another and brainstorm about strategies of resistance in a variety of different spheres of their work, including research and writing, classroom and online teaching, use of social media, broader civic education and advocacy, and community organizing for social justice.

The structure of the workshop will be arranged around a series of units focusing on such relevant themes as the environment, gender and sexuality, economics, and race and ethnicity. Each unit will offer participants relatively brief input from a featured presenter or presenters, followed by more extensive time for facilitated small and large group discussion.

In addition to providing a forum for timely and potentially transformative professional exchange, the overall goal of the workshop will be to identify a series of “best practices” which will, in turn, be shared with the attendees of the Special Topics Forum of the Theological Education Committee and eventually be published for even wider consumption in the Spring 2018 edition of “Spotlight on Theological Education” of Religious Studies News.

To this end, workshop participants are strongly encouraged to bring with them a list of related practices of resistance in which either they or their institution is currently engaged.

The cost for attending the workshop is $40, which includes a coffee break and the entire day of sessions. Registration is limited to the first 70 participants. To participate, select this workshop when registering for the Annual Meeting. If you have already registered for the Annual Meeting, you may contact reg@aarweb.org to reserve a space in this workshop.

Panelists:
Jacqueline Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church and The Middle Project
Joerg Rieger, Vanderbilt University
Roger S. Gottlieb, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Marie Alford-Harkey, Religious Institute, Bridgeport, CT
Jacqueline Hidalgo, Williams College
A17-107
  • Preconference Workshop
  • Professional Practices and Institutional Location
THATCamp - The Humanities and Technology Camp
Theme: THATCAMPAARSBL2017
Eric Smith, Iliff School of Theology, Presiding
Unregistered Participant, Presiding
Candace Mixon, University of North Carolina, Presiding
Friday - 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Hynes Convention Center-208 (Second Level)

The advent of digital technology and social media has not only transformed how today religious communities function, they have also changed how scholars teach about and conduct research on religion more broadly. If you are interested in how technology is changing—or can change—the work of scholars of religion, then we invite you to attend the THATCamp AAR & SBL unconference taking place the day before the AAR & SBL conferences begins. THATCamp brings together scholars to explore the role of technology in humanities scholarship. This is not a conference for techno-elites, it is a conference for every one of all skill levels. If you are new to digital humanities, come and learn. If you are a seasoned pro, come and share. We look forward to seeing you there!

The cost for attending the unconference is $15, which includes the entire day of sessions and a coffee break. Registration is limited to the first 100 participants. You can find more information at www.THATCampAARSBL.org, where you can review session proposals submitted by your peers prior to the event and join us for conversation about technology and digital scholarship, including the opportunity for you to present your own proposals for sessions. To participate, select this workshop when registering for the Annual Meeting. If you have already registered for the Annual Meeting, you may contact reg@aarweb.org to reserve a space in this workshop. We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

A17-109
  • Preconference Workshop
  • Professional Practices and Institutional Location
Religion and Media Workshop
Theme: Between Fake News and Natural Media
M. Gail Hamner, Syracuse University, Presiding
Ann M. Burlein, Hofstra University, Presiding
Kathleen Foody, College of Charleston, Presiding
Elliott Bazzano, Le Moyne College, Presiding
Friday - 11:00 AM-6:00 PM
Hynes Convention Center-302 (Third Level)

The Religion and Media Workshop is a day-long seminar designed to foster collaborative conversation at the cutting edge of the study of religion, media, and culture. This year’s workshop will explore how to respond to the changing relations between religion and media due to changing assumptions regarding the ‘fake’ and the ‘natural/real.’

A core assumption for many has been that journalism is the bedrock of democracy.
• If so, what then happens in a time of fake news? What is the relation of alternative facts to religion? Is willingness to believe fake news a new form that religion is taking in this new media environment? Or is fake news simply a new twist on old problems, including propaganda and ideology?
• Second, what happens when media cease to be articulated against the natural, so that we relate to ‘nature’ and ‘media’ as environments which we do not frame as mediated? How can we develop practices of seeing nature as a fertile source of meaning that mediates the human and the technological? What do we need to help us think the links between diffuse technological infrastructures, specific media platforms, and the ‘natural’ conditions of life in the Anthropocene?

The workshop will not be structured as traditional paper sessions, but rather as a workshop. Three to five readings will be circulated to participants before the event. Because of the nature of this year’s workshop, it is essential that all participants commit to doing the readings ahead of time and prepare to participate in seminar-style conversation.

The cost for attending the workshop is $75, which includes lunch and the entire day of sessions. Registration is limited to the first 70 participants. To participate, select this workshop when registering for the Annual Meeting. If you have already registered for the Annual Meeting, you may contact reg@aarweb.org to reserve a space in this workshop.

Panelists:
John Durham Peters, Yale University
Stewart M. Hoover, University of Colorado
Deborah Whitehead, University of Colorado
A17-203
  • Preconference Workshop
  • Professional Practices and Institutional Location
Leadership Workshop
Theme: Academic Relations Committee Leadership Workshop on Digital Media and Communications
Theodore Trost, University of Alabama, Presiding
Rosalind I. J. Hackett, University of Tennessee, Presiding
Joanne Maguire Robinson, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Presiding
Friday - 1:00 PM-5:00 PM
Hynes Convention Center-309 (Third Level)

Featured ever more prominently in the religion chair's job description and day-to-day agenda is the necessity to "market" the department to a diverse audience of prospective students, community members, and peers. Yet the expertise required to develop and maintain websites, create promotional materials, and use social media to the department's advantage, is rarely the preserve of academics serving as short-term administrators. Often, institutional support for an individual department's communication efforts is in short supply. This Leadership Workshop will be led by a web design and communications expert from a college of arts and sciences in a major public university; commentary and responses will be offered by select faculty from a diverse array of institutions. The Workshop will provide practical tools and tips to improve digital media and communications skills for those charged with promoting the academic study of religion in their academic units. The Workshop will produce a "Top 10 Tips for Department of Religious Studies Marketing and Communication" to be made available as an online resource for members of the AAR.

The cost for attending the workshop is $55, which includes a coffee break and the entire afternoon of sessions. Registration is limited to the first 50 participants. To participate, select this workshop when registering for the Annual Meeting. If you have already registered for the Annual Meeting, you may contact reg@aarweb.org to reserve a space in this workshop.

Panelists:
Jeremy Hughes, University of Tennessee
Responding:
Rebekka King, Middle Tennessee State University
Kathryn McClymond, Georgia State University
Brian M. Britt, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
A17-207
  • Preconference Workshop
  • Professional Practices and Institutional Location
The Public Scholars Project Workshop
Theme: Practical Skills for the Public Scholar
Emma Tomalin, University of Leeds, Presiding
Benjamin Marcus, Newseum Institute Religious Freedom Centre, Washington DC, Presiding
Friday - 2:00 PM-5:00 PM
Sheraton Boston-Back Bay D (Second Level)

Co-sponsored by the AAR Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion and the Newseum Institute Religious Freedom Center

In this extraordinary time of political and social unrest, scholars of religion are frequently called upon – or feel compelled – to share their knowledge and perspective with those outside the academy. In this role as public scholars, they may speak with journalists, write for a broad audience, engage with policymakers or elected officials, meet with religious communities or local schools, or more. At this workshop, participants will work with professionals from government, the media, advocacy groups and others in a series of case studies, simulations and conversations designed to hone the practical skills of the public scholar.

In this three-hour workshop, participants will be given the opportunity to participate in two practically focused sessions of 80 minutes each, following a short introductory session. A range of professionals have been invited to facilitate 5 sessions.

When you sign up for the workshop, please email Steve Herrick (sherrick@aarweb.org) to indicate your preferences for sessions (label them 1-5, with 1 for the most preferred). There are 10 spaces per session and each session will run twice during the afternoon.

The cost of the workshop is $40, which includes the entire afternoon of sessions. Registration is limited to the first 50 participants. To participate, select this workshop when registering for the Annual Meeting. If you have already registered for the Annual Meeting, you may contact reg@aarweb.org to reserve a space in this workshop.

Liz Kineke, CBS Religion & Culture
How to Respond to Requests for Information from Journalists

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Vanessa Zoltan, Harvard University
Learning How to Speak for Camera and Radio

Vanessa Zoltan is co-producer of the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. She is working on a book about treating Jane Eyre as a sacred text. Her work with Jane Eyre and Harry Potter has been written about in The New York Times and covered on CNN. Vanessa blogs for the Huffington Post.

Simran Jeet Singh, Trinity University
The Effective Use of Social Media

Dr Simran Jeet Singh serves as a prominent voice in public spaces as he writes and comments frequently for various media platforms. Simran also serves on the board for the Religion Newswriters’ Association, the premiere organization for religion journalists in the United States.

Susan B. Thistlethwaite, Chicago Theological Seminary
Writing for the Internet

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite has taught a popular course at Chicago Theological Seminary called "Public Theology" for ten years on how to write for the public square. Thistlethwaite has become widely known as a blogger on religion in the public square. She wrote for four years for the Washington Post "On Faith" section. She also writes for several online news outlets, most recently for the Huffington Post.

Evan Berry, American University
Bridging the Gap between Policy and Academic Research

Evan Berry recently spent a year in residency at the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs as the American Academy of Religion’s inaugural Religion and International Relations Fellow.

A19-206
  • Professional Practices and Institutional Location
Animals and Religion Unit and Teaching Religion Unit
Theme: Teaching Animals and Religion
David Aftandilian, Texas Christian University, Presiding
Sunday - 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Hynes Convention Center-108 (Plaza Level)

For this roundtable, presenters will discuss 1 or 2 specific pedagogical approaches that they have found to work well in teaching about animals and religion. Presenters have been selected to represent a wide range of types of institutions, courses, and instructional practices. Many are also senior scholars in the field who will bring years of experience in teaching about animals and religion to the roundtable. To allow more presenters to participate, and to leave more time for audience participation, the roundtable will follow a lightning-style format. In 5 to 6 minutes each presenter will specify the contexts (type of institution and course) within which they have taught using this approach, describe the pedagogical practice, and discuss how both they and their students have assessed its success. Finally, the audience will be invited to share their own practices of teaching (and learning) about animals and religion in various contexts.

Panelists:
Eric D. Mortensen, Guilford College
Jay McDaniel, Hendrix College
Aaron Gross, University of San Diego
Barbara K. Darling-Smith, Wheaton College
Barbara Ambros, University of North Carolina
David Clough, University of Chester
Lea Schweitz, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago
Grace Kao, Claremont School of Theology