Department of Religious Studies (REL)

Though courses at the University of Alabama in the study of religion date as far back as 1932, the Department of Religious Studies (located on the second and third floors of historic Manly Hall) was established in 1966 with the hire of Ph.D.s trained in non-confessionally descriptive and cross-culturally comparative studies of religion. The Department, which has tripled its number of tenured and tenure-track faculty since 2000, offers courses in a wide variety of areas, e.g., from ancient Greece to modern Japan, and from the text of the Hebrew Bible to Afro-Carribean diaspora literature. Apart from its MA degree, it supports an undergraduate major and minor, along with a minor in Judaic Studies. It is also the home of the Director of UA's cross-disciplinary minor in Asian Studies.

Learn more about REL at our Department's blog (where faculty, students, grads, and invited guests regularly post); you can find us on Vimeo and you can visit the Department on Facebook as well as find out information there on our undergrad student association, or follow us on Twitter @StudyReligion and Instagram.

Visit Department Website

Programs

Faculty

Chair
  • Russell T. McCutcheon
Administrative Secretary
  • Betty Dickey
Professors
  • Russell T. McCutcheon
  • Steven Ramey
  • Theodore L. Trost
Associate Professors
  • Steven L. Jacobs
  • K. Merinda Simmons
Assistant Professors
  • Michael Altman
  • Eleanor Finnegan
  • Suma Ikeuchi
  • Nathan Loewen
  • Vaia Touna
 

Courses

General prerequisites: Graduate standing and permission of both the director of graduate studies and the instructor. Graduate students enrolled in 500-level courses that are also offered at the 400 level are expected to perform extra work of an appropriate nature.

REL
501
Hours
3
Social Theory and Religious Studies

This three credit hour graduate seminar introduces students to terms and ideas from social theory and their relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will apply theories to analyze examples relevant in Religious Studies, both ancient and modern. Each student will also select an important work in their chosen field of study in consultation with their advisor and analyze that work in depth in relation to the various issues discussed in the course.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
502
Hours
3
Public Humanities and Religious Studies

This graduate seminar introduces students to public humanities and digital humanities approaches to the study of religion. Students learn methods and tools for conducting digital research and explore ways to communicate theoretical and religious studies research to public audiences through digital media. Students are introduced to a number of digital tools for research, scholarly communication, and public engagement and will work to apply those tools to their individual research interests and goals.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
504
Hours
3
Special Topics in Religion in Culture

To illustrate the gains of applying social theory to the study of religion, this course will draw upon current examples to study in light of the skills gained in the social theory foundations course. Specific content will be determined by faculty responsible for the course each semester. This course may be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
560
Hours
3
Independent Study in Social Theory in Religious Studies

This three credit hour graduate course provides students with the opportunity to pursue a topic of their choosing in relation to social theory and its relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will meet with the professor to select and discuss readings and writing assignments.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
561
Hours
3
Independent Study in Social Theory in Religious Studies

This three credit hour graduate course provides students with the opportunity to pursue a topic of their choosing in relation to social theory and its relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will meet with the professor to select and discuss readings and writing assignments.

Prerequisite(s): None, except for admission to degree program
REL
590
Hours
3
Capstone Seminar in Social Theory in Religious Studies

In this culmination class experience, normally enrolled in final Spring semester, students will present their ongoing original thesis research for the purposes of soliciting feedback from the instructor and classmates. In light of the feedback, students will respond and revise their work. Having begun the degree with two common foundations courses (one on social theory and one on public humanities digital skills), students in this course will integrate and apply the skills learned throughout the degree.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
599
Hours
3
Religious Studies Masters Thesis

REL 500 is an independent research course in which the student conducts Masters Thesis research under the guidance of a thesis advisor. Research projects will include the development of an original research question; in-depth research into relevant secondary and primary sources; the production of an article length essay or equivalent digital project (as approved by the thesis advisor); and an oral presentation of the research. Students will meet regularly with the thesis advisor throughout the semester during which which the course is undertaken.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program