Changes to Reading Religion
February 28, 2017
Some time ago, during a conversation with our Board of Directors, I lamented the fact that amid a publishing heyday of scholarly books in Religious Studies, we were able to publish relatively few reviews in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. That conversation led me to begin thinking about alternative ways–particularly online–to publish shorter reviews more quickly, in greater numbers, and by a wider range of reviewers.
About the same time we appointed a new JAAR Editor, Professor Cynthia Eller of Claremont Graduate University. Cynthia was enthusiastic about the idea of a new platform for reviews. Cynthia and I, as well as Susan Snider, Rob Williams, and Brian Young from the AAR staff, and Travis Webb from CGU, transformed the initial idea (which began as “Books Notes”) into Reading Religion. Now, some nine months old, RR has posted over 1,300 books for review and has published over 500 reviews, with an additional 200 in preparation. Moreover, the turnaround time from receipt of a book at CGU to online publication of a review is much shorter than typical print media. For Cynthia and me, this is a vision realized and a dream come true.
Not surprisingly, Cynthia’s efforts to balance JAAR, RR, teaching, and administrative duties became increasingly challenging. After a good deal of conversation, Cynthia and I agreed that we would find a new general editor for RR and move RR out of Claremont. Though plans are still in process, it appears that RR will find its new home here in Atlanta, closer to the AAR’s administrative and tech operations. I am working with a small group to recruit and expand RR’s editorial apparatus and will have news on that soon.
I want to take a moment, on behalf of our Board and our membership, to thank Cynthia for her pathbreaking work on RR. Without her vision and effort, we would not enjoy this scholarly resource and could not look forward to its future growth. I look forward to continuing my work with Cynthia and CGU on the JAAR editorial front, where she is providing similarly excellent leadership.
RR will remain in Claremont through the spring of this year on a slightly reduced work schedule. Our thanks go to Managing Editor Lisa Haygood who is keeping things running during the transition. Questions about reviews can be sent to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.