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2015 Annual Meeting Workshops

Workshops at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Atlanta

Workshop Descriptions and Reservation Form  


THATCamp
The Humanities and Technology Camp
Friday, November 20, 9:00 AM5:00 PM

John Crow, Florida State University, Michael Hemenway, Iliff School of Theology, and Eric Smith, Iliff School of Theology, Presiding

The advent of digital technology and social media has not only transformed how today’s religious communities function, but also how scholars teach and research religion more broadly. If you are interested in how technology is changing—or can change—the work of religious studies scholars, then we invite you to attend the AAR’s third annual THATCamp!

THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp,” and they exist to bring scholars and technologists of every skill level together to learn how to integrate digital technology into their teaching and research. THATCamps are unconferences, which means this learning and building occurs not through formal presentations but in hands-on workshops or sessions proposed on the spot by participants. Topics we will cover could include academic blogging, social media in the classroom, digital research methods, web-based class projects, online publishing, and countless others.

The cost for the workshop is $15, which includes the entire day of sessions. There will be time for lunch on your own. Registration is limited to the first 100 participants. THATCamp attendees also must register and create profiles on the http://aar2015.thatcamp.org Blog in the Fall, where they will receive instructions and be able to propose sessions.


Religion and Media Workshop
Law, Public Culture, and Religion
Friday, November 20, 11:00 AM6:00 PM

Ann Burlein, Hofstra University, Kathleen Foody, College of Charleston, and M. Gail Hamner, Syracuse University, Presiding

The Religion and Media Workshop, one of the most popular sessions at the AAR annually, is a day-long seminar designed to foster collaborative conversation at the cutting edge of the study of religion, media, and culture. In 2015, the Workshop will explore how law mediates religion.

We will pay particular attention to the connections between law, public culture, and religion.

  • How do legal regimes organize and produce structures of feeling? How might aesthetics form spaces of counter-legality?
  • How do debates about law mediate minoritization? How might legal formations shape the religious identities and life possibilities of citizens?
  • How do conversations about law and religious freedom frame global understandings and misunderstandings of religion?

The workshop will not be structured as traditional paper sessions, but rather as a workshop exploring the mediation of religion by and through law. 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 the workshop is $75, which includes lunch and the entire afternoon of sessions. Registration is limited to the first 75 participants.

Participants will include:

Allison Fish, University of California Davis
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Northwestern University
Sylvester Johnson, Northwestern University
Andrew Ventimiglia, University of California Davis
Isaac Weiner, Ohio State University
Tisa Wenger, Yale University


Religion and Ecology Workshop
Journey of the Universe: Hope for the Future
Friday, November 20, 2:00 PM–5:00 PM

Heather Eaton, Saint Paul University, Nancy Menning, Ithaca College, and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, Presiding

Journey of the Universe narrates the history of the cosmos in a mythic mode richly informed by contemporary science, bringing religion and science together in compelling ways. In this workshop we will explore the pedagogical potential of this universe story, at the cosmological as well as more localized scales. We will examine the ways in which this narrative shapes our understanding of the long arc of history, defines our human place in the grander ecological or cosmological journey, and suggests possibilities for ethical action. The goal of the workshop is to strengthen our capacity to awaken awe and wonder in the classroom with implications for our students’ capacity to participate effectively in much-needed environmental activism. Focusing on hope and working with the Journey of the Universe curricular materials we will develop skills in analyzing the emotional resonance of this narrative structure, the ways the materials will engage students, and how this contributes to an effective pedagogy.

The cost for the workshop is $35, which includes the entire afternoon of sessions and a coffee break. Registration is limited to the first 120 participants.


Rethinking Islamic Studies Workshop
Teaching Islamic Studies: Key Topics and Best Practices
Friday, November 20, 1:00 PM5:00 PM

Danielle Widmann Abraham, James Madison University, and Caleb Elfenbein, Grinnell College, Presiding

We will focus on pedagogy, exploring practical efforts to enhance student learning and critical thinking regarding the complexities of modern colonial and postcolonial histories—and their effects—in Muslim contexts. The breadth and diversity of modern European forms of colonialism in Muslim communities creates a variety of challenges in the undergraduate classroom. How do we begin to specify content? Do we privilege breadth, providing students with an overview of colonial encounters and their aftermaths from West Africa to Southeast Asia? Or do we privilege depth, digging deeply into colonial and postcolonial histories in a limited range of settings? Which approach most effectively illuminates colonial and post-colonial debates in Muslim contexts regarding the reconfiguration of Islamic traditions—especially regarding the relationship between Islamic devotional practices, forms of community life, and the state? How do we most effectively provide students with sufficient background in pre-modern Islamic traditions so that they can appreciate the nature and extent of change during the modern period? What concepts or themes are most essential to analyzing the effects of modern forms of colonialism in diverse Muslim communities? Modernity? Secularization? Gender? Power? And how can we set the stage for understanding contemporary forms of Islamism and political Islam in relationship to the experience of colonization?

The format will consist of presentations by experienced instructors combined with interactive small group discussion. Our aim is to provide an opportunity for reflection on effective teaching and student-centered learning. The workshop is intended both for graduate students and professors of Islamic studies, as well as scholars from other fields in religious studies who are looking to incorporate more Islam material in their courses.

The cost of the workshop is $35, which includes the entire afternoon of sessions and a coffee break. Registration limited to the first 75 participants.


Ethnography and Theology Workshop
A Multi-Disciplinary Orientation and Consultation on Using Ethnographic Research Methods for Theological Scholarship from Experts in Social Science and Theology
Friday, November 20, 1:00 PM5:00 PM

Featuring a multi-disciplinary array of scholars from the social sciences and theology, this unique workshop will focus on the methodological orientation and the many unresolved issues inherent to emerging scholarship using ethnographic research methods for the development of theological scholarship. 

The workshop will provide:

1) Orientation and suggested resources on the use of ethnography with the goal of theological exploration.

2) Consultation with experienced scholars on participants' research projects and proposals.

3) Critical dialogue on ambiguities and controversies arising from current practices and tensions.

4) Opportunity for dialogue and exploration on themes and topics in relation to research methods and theological work.

5) Network connections with a broad base of colleagues from a variety of fields and institutions interested in this work.

The cost for the workshop is $35, which includes the entire afternoon of sessions and a coffee break. Registration is limited to the first 80 participants.

Participants will include:

Nancy Ammerman, Boston University
Luke Bretherton, Duke University
Kathleen Garces-Foley, Marymount University
Kathleen Jenkins, College of William & Mary
Gerardo Marti, Davidson College
Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Duke University
Christian Scharen, Auburn Theological Seminary
James Spickard, University of Redlands


Theological Education Workshop
Teaching Global Theologies: International Perspectives
Friday, November 20, 1:45 PM5:00 PM

Cecilia González-Andrieu, Loyola Marymount University, Presiding

This workshop will focus on the challenges of and opportunities for teaching theology in a global and transnational world from a variety of international perspectives. We will discuss how theology can be taught to honor diverse theological voices beyond tokenism.

The goals of this workshop are:

  • To learn about the construction of global theology and the practice of teaching theology with global and local sources from different international contexts.
  • To share pedagogical insights and concrete classroom examples of broadening students’ horizons to engage theological materials from other contexts.
  • To understand the teaching of theology in a comparative mode, using examples from China and the United States.
  • To envision changes in theological curriculum, contents, staff, and cultural ethos necessary for the teaching of theology to address the global challenges of the twenty-first century.
  • To strengthen international collaboration and networking among both theologians and scholars from diverse Christian backgrounds and scholars of different faith traditions.

The first panel will survey the challenges and practices of teaching theology in the Global South and Global North. The second panel will offer pedagogical tools and insights by scholars who have taught in a variety of global contexts. The workshop will include ample time for collaborative reflection and building collegial networks.

The cost for the workshop is $35, which includes the entire afternoon of sessions and a coffee break. Registration is limited to the first 75 participants.

Participants will include:

Beverley Haddad, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Teresia Mbari Hinga, Santa Clara University
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Fuller Theological Seminary
Volker Küster, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz
Jung Mo Sung, Universidade Metodista de São Paulo
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Chicago Theological Seminary
Francis Ching-Wah Yip, Chinese University of Hong Kong