Category Archives: Open Access

The Web of Religion, Religions, Religious

In “Religion, Religions, Religious,” J.Z. Smith asserted that “‘religion’ is not a native term; it is a term created by scholars for their intellectual purposes and therefore is theirs to define.” [This essay can be found here and here, and in pdf form here.] It is, in other often quoted words, “the creation of the scholar’s study.” While many scholars may rely on this to frame our research or teaching, our students and the general public are often introduced to “religion,” religions, and the religious through their own use of search engines. As Hugh Urban has recently pointed out, religions–like in this case Scientology–are being contested in the streets of cities and in cyberspace, seemingly separate from scholarly classifications.

For THATcamp AAR, I propose a session that considers how digital technologies, including but not limited to social media, can encourage critical approaches to religion. The organizing question is: rather than cataloging instances of religion, how can digital approaches to the humanities help Religious Studies scholars draw attention to or model critical inquiries of “religion,” religions, and the religious? In the spirit of THATcamp, I do not have answers to propose, but an interest in brainstorming with colleagues how we can incorporate sources, apps, and the like from the web into our research and teaching.

Talk Session: Multimodal Publication

What does the future of scholarly publishing in religious studies look like?  What are the respective advantages of publishing a “traditional” monograph versus an online reference work or multimodal project?  What kinds of internal and external pressures come into play when non-tenured scholars consider publishing multimodal projects?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of collaboratively authored projects?  How important is Open Access?  What useful services can traditional academic publishers still offer, and what would researchers prefer to do themselves?  What are the advantages of open peer review over traditional peer review?  What is the relationship between blogging, social media presence, and peer-reviewed publication?  Why are scholars of religion not a more active presence in the Digital Humanities generally?

This session proposes to discuss these and related questions as well as offer a whirlwind tour of some interesting work-in-progress at the juncture of religion and multimodal publication.