Four Takeaways from the AAR / SBL Jobs Report

The American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature released a new report about the job market based on data drawn from the AAR/SBL job listings for the 2013-2014 academic year. The report builds on previous data that dates back to January 2001.

Graduate programs in religious studies and theology should hand this report to their incoming students. They should email it to everyone in their program. They should have a seminar on it for their first-year students. Make it required reading and spend an hour discussing it. Have the conversation.

Here four takeaways I got from the report.

1. We must redefine what success looks like for a Ph.D. graduate.


Generally speaking, success for a Ph.D. graduate meant a tenure-track job. On one level, that view is backed up in the report. 80% of the jobs listed in the SBL/AAR listings were tenured or tenure track positions.But when you look at who got the jobs, the numbers have an interesting ambivalence.

First off 90% of appointees completed their degree before they started their job. But what does that mean?

The first group of appointees to complete their degrees immediately prior to their start dates comprise almost one third of all appointees (32.7%). The typical candidate in this group would have interviewed in November of 2012, completed their degree in May of 2013, and started their appointment in July or August of 2013. Another 17.1% of appointees interviewed in the year that they completed their degrees, and 11.1% of appointees interviewed the year after they completed their degrees. Finally, the remaining third (34.3%) of appointees interviewed two years or more after they completed their degrees.

So, only about a third of the jobs went to people fresh out of grad school. The others all spent at least a year doing something else–either outside the academy or in some sort of “contingent” position.

This is the new normal. Most Ph.D.s will spend time bouncing around various positions before they land that tenure-track job. If you don’t get a job right out of grad school you have a better chance of getting one two years or more after you graduate. Success isn’t a tenure-track job, success is a job period. And we might not even be able to measure success until you’ve been out of grad school for 5 years. Why is this?

2. Teaching experience really matters.


The organizations have gathered data on the skills and/or experiences desired or required by hiring institutions since the 2001-2002 AY (Table 17), though unfortunately data are missing for the 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011 academic years. Holding a Ph.D., prior teaching experience, and interdisciplinary teaching or research abilities continue to be ranked highest among the twelve options.6 A majority of institutions required (59.5%) or desired (10.6%) candidates to hold a Ph.D. Almost half of hiring institutions required (29.9%) or desired (18.1%) prior teaching experience, while over one fifth required (9.7%) or desired (12.2%) interdisciplinary teaching or research abilities.

One reason for that 34% of appointees who had been out of grad school for two years or more may be the desire for teaching experience among hiring departments. Those years between graduation and tenure-track appointment are often filled with contingent teaching. Ph.D. departments that want to produce competitive candidates should be intentionally building constructive teaching experiences and pedagogical development into their programs. This does not mean that graduate students should be overloaded with teaching a ton of courses on their own from the very beginning. “Teaching experience” can be an excuse to dump heavy teaching loads on under-prepared and over-worked graduate students. Rather, it means that teaching will be part of a broader professionalization of graduate students.

The data on “interdisciplinary research” is a red herring. As the footnote in the report smartly notes, “the date include no clear definition of ‘interdisciplinary, so the meaning may vary widely.” Indeed, “interdisciplinary” has become a vacuous buzzword in many settings. The takeaway here is not that candidates should be more “interdisciplinary” but that departments should stop putting “interdisciplinary” in their job ads as a meaningless place holder or a euphemism for “we don’t really know what we want.” Candidates should just do interesting and cutting-edge research.

3. You better be able to work in a public institution.


Two of the key findings of the study:

  • The number and share of positions at private not-for-profit (private) institutions in the U.S. has steadily abated since the 2010-2011 AY, while the number at public institutions has remained steady during the same period.
  • Mid-size, private research institutions and the smallest special focus institutions are the locus of declines, whereas the number of positions at private and public Master’s institutions has risen for the past two years.

Mid-size private research institutions, like Emory, are often the places with the best programs in religious studies. Yet, their students are more likely to end up in a public institution, like Alabama. If this trend continues and the number of positions in public institutions continue to grow while private institutions hire less, it could have important repercussions for how we do religious studies. What I do here at Alabama, for instance, looks very different from what many of my colleagues do at private seminaries and religious colleges. More jobs at public institutions means that candidates who approach religious studies as an academic discipline within the secular public university will have better chance at a job. That will have an impact on what directions our field goes methodological and theoretically.

UPDATE: 11/18/14 12:27PM

A friend posted a smart critique of takeaways 1 and 3:

“I’m not comfortable with the way you’ve phrased takeaway #1 or #3: you continue to maintain the very unhelpful status quo idea of “success” as a teaching position. You revise expectations “downward,” I suppose, but you don’t look outside of teaching at the college level as any form of “success.” I think this expected outcome, and the way that graduate programs indoctrinate students into this form of reproduction, is one of the most myopic and harmful aspects of PhD programs in our discipline. We need an entirely different kind of subject formation that has a wider vision of “successful” outcomes.”

I agree that we have to broaden outcomes beyond just teaching positions. However, this report has nothing to say about that. One takeaway then, is that a report like this is too narrow to address the larger question of what counts as success for a Ph.D. graduate. 

4. Course load data is useless.


My biggest critique of the report is that it relies on course load data to measure the teaching work positions require.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.39.22 AM

This course load data shows that contingent faculty are teaching more than their tenured and tenure-track peers but it doesn’t tell us how many students any of these groups are teaching. Rather than measure course load, it would be more useful to also measure credit hour production. Are those six courses taught by contingent faculty filled with 100 students, while the tenured have four and a half seminars of 15 students? We don’t know. Course load doesn’t tell us who is really making the donuts in the department. For example, I had a 4/4 course load last year as a contingent instructor but I only had a total of about 100 students. Meanwhile, one section of introduction to religious studies taught by a tenured faculty member had 150 students on its own. See, credit hours and enrollment matter.

I’m lucky.


My own personal takeaway from the report is that I am both lucky and typical. I am incredibly lucky to have gotten a job in a year when job listings were down. I am incredibly typical because it took a year of heavy teaching as a contingent faculty member to  gain teaching experience that made me a strong candidate.



On Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birthday: Beginnings and Endings

Tomorrow marks Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birthday. Vivekananda haunts me. He was a man who meant and continues to mean many things to many people. But for me, Vivekananda will always represent a limit or a boundary. When I started the research project that became my dissertation, I started with Vivekananda and then turned and looked backward. In American religious history, Vivekananda represented the beginning of Hinduism in America. He brought Raja Yoga and the Vedanta Society. His speech at the World’s Parliament of Religion was the dawning of a new pluralism in America. I wanted to know what happened before that. I wanted to turn Vivekananda into the ending. What did Americans think about India and Hindus and yoga and Brahma and Krishna before 1893–before the Swami came to Chicago? That has been the driving question of my research for the past seven years, across my masters and Ph.D. work, and through two universities.

As Hindus around the world remember and celebrate the life of the Swami, I celebrate as well, but for very different reasons. As I said, for me Vivekananda represents the end. He is the last figure in my dissertation. So, as I put the finishing touches on this dissertation, look toward a defense in a couple months, a graduation shortly after that, and eventually a book, I celebrate the life of Vivekananda. Because without him I would never have found this research topic. And without him it would not have an ending.

When Grading Graduate Student Papers, Kick Ass and Leave Comments

This is exactly what I liked seeing from professors on my papers:

So the graduate paper deserves extensive comments, like those of a peer-reviewed article. I just write about a single-spaced page outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the paper. Everything is fair game, from the format and prose-style to the substance of the argument. I’m looking for a strong, distinctive thesis backed up by some kind of convincing evidence. What I really want to see is a level of engagement that leads to some strong thinking: ideas that I would not have come up with myself. I don’t really hold back in outlining the weaknesses. It is not really being “nice” to do this. I might exaggerate a bit on the strengths just to provide some encouragement, but I am the professor who is going to kick your ass on the final paper. Yes, I am that guy.

Getting Back to the Writing

I passed my exams. Hooray!

For me, the exciting part is that I get to go back to writing. I got into this whole grad school thing for the writing. I enjoy the teaching. I like the reading. Seminar classes are fun. But I love the writing. From the research to the bibliography to the blank stare I give the laptop monitor, the writing is what keeps me going. With exams done I look ahead at two more mountains to climb and they are both writing mountains.

First, their is the smaller peak–the dissertation proposal. I’ve been thinking through this project since my M.A. thesis and now I’m finally to the point where I can begin to think through and write down what I really want to do in this dissertation. I’ve written a half-dozen or so seminar papers that are sort of first drafts for future dissertation chapters, but the proposal is a chance to finally think big picture. I can’t wait.

The second mountain, the dissertation itself, is taller, steeper, and I imagine it having a dark cloud and lightning bolts at the top. It’s still off in the distance a ways. I can’t see the top of it–it is hidden by that cloud with the lightning–but I can see it standing tall behind the peak of the proposal. I think it’s best not to stare at it too long or else I might lose my way on the climb up the proposal.

So, now that I’m done with all the reading and examining it is also time to get back to writing not related to school. I’m now writing for three blogs. First, I’m still doing a weekly review of religion over at Religion Dispatches. Second, I’ll be writing more contributions over at Religion in American History. Lastly, I’m now a contributing-scholar for a new blog for emerging scholars called State of Formation. I’ve written two posts for State of Formation. The first post argued that we need to be aware of the ways we construct the term religion. The second post was an attempt to think through the question of what makes religious practice authentic. I’ll post excerpts and links to other blog posts and articles on this blog as they appear on the inter-webs and I might even get around to writing something original for this blog.

I have to say it again. After all that reading, I’m so glad to be writing again.

(Somebody keep this post handy when I’m halfway through a chapter of the dissertation and ready to quit it all and go to brewery school.)

My “Hinduism: Colony, Metropole, and America” exam list

This is the fourth of my four exam list I’ve been posting over the past couple of weeks. This exam is technically a “dissertation specific” exam and so it is a combination of readings on Hinduism in America and India as well as some studies of how Hinduism has been represented in America and Britain. There’s also some post-colonial stuff mixed in too. As with the others, if you see something you want to discuss let me know.

Dissertation Exam List

Hinduism: Colony, Metropole, and America

Balagangadhara, S. N. 1994. The Heathen in His Blindness: Asia, the West, and the Dynamic of Religion. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Bean, Susan S, and Peabody Essex Museum. 2001. Yankee India: American Commercial and Cultural Encounters with India in the Age of Sail, 1784-1860. Salem, MA: Peabody Essex Museum.

Cohn, Bernard S. 1987. An Anthropologist Among the Historians and Other Essays. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Cohn, Bernard S. 1997. Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Davidson, Allan K. 1990. Evangelicals & Attitudes to India, 1786-1813: Missionary Publicity and Claudius Buchanan. S.l.: Sutton Courtenay Press.

Doniger, Wendy. 2009. “Hindus in America 1900–.” Pp. 636-653 in The Hindus: An Alternative History. New York: Penguin Press.

Fischer-Tine, Harald, and Michael Mann, eds. 2004. Colonialism as Civilizing Mission: Cultural Ideology in British India. London: Anthem Press.

Inden, Ronald B. 1990. Imagining India. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.

Jackson, Carl T. 1994. Vedanta for the West: The Ramakrishna Movement in the United States. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Kejariwal, O. P. 1988. The Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Discovery of India‘s Past, 1784-1838. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Kopf, David. 1969. British Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance; the Dynamics of Modernization, 1773-1835. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kopf, David. 1979. The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind. Princeton, N.J: Princeton Univerity Press.

Marshall, P. J. 1970. The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press.

Mitter, Partha. 1977. Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Narayan, Kirin. 1993. “Refractions from the Field at Home: American Representations of Hindu Holy Men in the 19th and 20th Centuries.” Cultural Anthropology 8:476-509.

Narayanan, Vasudha. 2006. “Creating the South Indian “Hindu” Experience in the United States.” Pp. 231-248 in The Life of Hinduism, edited by John Stratton Hawley and Vasudha Narayanan. London: University of California Press.

Oddie, Geoffrey A. 2006. Imagined Hinduism: British Protestant Missionary Constructions of Hinduism, 1793-1900. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Oddie, Geoffrey A. 1995. Popular Religion, Elites, and Reform: Hook-Swinging and Its Prohibition in Colonial India, 1800-1894. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers & Distributors.

Pennington, Brian. 2005. Was Hinduism Invented?: Britons, Indians, and Colonial Construction Religion. New York: Oxford University Press.

Robertson, Bruce Carlisle. 1995. Raja Rammohan Ray: The Father of Modern India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Singer, Milton B. 1980. “Passage to More than India: a Sketch of Changing European and American Images.” Pp. 11-38 in When a Great Tradition Modernizes: An Anthropological Approach to Civilization. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Singh, Maina Chawla. 2000. Gender, Religion, and the “heathen Lands”: American Missionary Women in South Asia, 1860s-1940s. New York: Garland Pub.

Stein, William Bysshe, ed. 1967. Two Brahman Sources of Emerson and Thoreau. Gainesville, Fla: Scholarsþ Facsimiles & Reprints.

Sugirtharajah, Sharada. 2003. Imagining Hinduism: A Postcolonial Perspective. London: Routledge.

Teltscher, Kate. 1995. India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India 1600-1800. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Urban, Hugh B. 2001. The Economics of Ecstasy: Tantra, Secrecy, and Power in Colonial Bengal. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Veer, Peter van der. 2001. Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Waghorne, Joanne Punzo. 2004. Diaspora of the Gods: Modern Hindu Temples in an Urban Middle-Class World. New York: Oxford University Press.

Williams, Raymond Brady. 1988. Religions of Immigrants from India and Pakistan: New Threads in the an Tapestry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

My Outside Area Exam List: “Media Studies and Religion”

This is the third of four posts which include my various exam lists for my preliminary exams. This exam is in my “outside area” of Media studies. There’s some great theory on here as well as a lot of  stuff dealing with ethnography and representation. It is a little light on the religion side but that’s the point of the “outside” in the title, I guess. The anthropological emphasis of the exam really pushes it into a true “outside area” for a historian like me. As before, if you’re interested in conversation about something you see here, let me know.

Michael J. Altman

Outside Area Exam- Media Studies

I. Theory

Adorno, Theodor W, and M. Horkheimer. 1977. “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as mass deception.” Pp. 350-383 in Mass Communication and Society, edited by James Curran, Michael Gurevitch, and Janet Woollacott. London: Edward Arnold.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1991. “Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology.” Pp. 191-210 in Recapturing Anthropology, edited by Richard G. Fox. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.

Baudrillard, Jean. 1980. “The Implosion of Meaning in the Media and the Implosion of the Social in the Masses.” Pp. 137-148 in The Myths of Information: Technology and Postindustrial Culture, edited by Kathleen Woodward. Madison: Coda Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature / Re Bourdieu ; Edited and Introduced by Randal Johnson. edited by Randal Johnson. New York: Columbia University Press.

Fairclough, Norman. 1995. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language / an Fairclough. London: Longman.

Fowler, Roger. 1991. Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press. London: Routledge.

Goffman, Erving. 1981. Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Hall, Stuart. 1980. “Encoding / Decoding.” Pp. 128-138 in Culture, Media, Language, edited by Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis. London: Hutchinson.

McQuail, Denis. 2010. McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory. Sixth Edition. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Spitulnik, Debra. 1993. “Anthropology and Mass Media.” Annual Review of Anthropology 293-315.

Spitulnik, Debra. 1999. “Media.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9:148-151.

II. Discourse

Bakhtin, M. M. 1981. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. edited by Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge ; and, The Discourse on Language. New York: Pantheon Books.

Richardson, John E. 2007. Analysing Newspapers: An Approach from Critical Discourse Analysis. Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wodak, Ruth. 1999. The Discursive Construction of National Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Woods, Nicola. 2006. Describing Discourse: A Practical Guide to Discourse Analysis. London: Hodder Arnold.

III. Representation

Karp, Ivan, and Steven Lavine, eds. 1991. Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display / Ed by Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Lutz, Catherine, and Jane Lou Collins. 1993. Reading National Geographic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

MacCannell, Dean. 1992. Empty Meeting Grounds: The Tourist Papers. London: Routledge.

Pratt, Mary Louise. 2008. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

Tomlinson, John. 1991. Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction. London: Pinter Publishers.

IV. Religion

Hoover, Stewart M. 2006. Religion in the Media Age. London: Routledge.

Richardson, John E. 2004. (Mis)representing Islam: The Racism and Rhetoric of British Broadsheet Newspapers. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub.

Rothenbuhler, Eric W. 1998. Ritual Communication: From Everyday Conversation to Mediated Ceremony. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Rothenbuhler, Eric W, and Mihai Coman, eds. 2005. Media Anthropology. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.

Silk, Mark. 1995. Unsecular Media: Making News of Religion in America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Walton, Jonathan L. 2009. Watch This!: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism. New York: New York University Press.

V. Ethnogprahy / Anthropology

Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2005. Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Couldry, Nick. 2007. Media Consumption and Public Engagement: Beyond the Presumption of Attention. New York, N.Y: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dornfeld, Barry. 1998. Producing Public Television, Producing Public Culture. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Hannerz, Ulf. 2004. Foreign News: Exploring the World of Foreign Correspondents. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kosnick, Kira. 2007. Migrant Media: Turkish Broadcasting and Multicultural Politics In Berlin. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Mankekar, Purnima. 1999. Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood, and Nation in Postcolonial India. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press.

Peterson, Mark. 2003. Anthropology and Mass Communication : Media and Myth in the New Millenium. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Radway, Janice. 1974. “Interpretive Communities and Variable Literacies.” Daedalus 113:49-73.

Radway, Janice. 1988. “Reception Study: Ethnographyand the problem of disperesed audiences and nomadic subjects.” Cultural Studies 2:359-376.

Spitulnik, Debra. 1993. “Anthropology and Mass Media.” Annual Review of Anthropology 293-315.

Spitulnik, Debra. “Thick Context, Deep Epistemology: A Meditiation on Wide-Angle Lenses on Media, Knowledge Production, and the Concept of Culture.” in Theorising Media and Practice, edited by B. Brauchler and J. Postill. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Spitulnik, Debra. 1998. “Mediated Modernities: Encounters with the Electronic in Zambia.” Visual Anthropology Review 14:63-84.

Spitulnik, Debra. 2002. “Mobile Machines and Fluid Audiences: Rethinking Reception through Zambian Radio Culture.” in Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, edited by Faye Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Tacchi, Jo. 1998. “Radio Texture: Between Self and Others.” Pp. 25-45 in Material Cultures: Why Some Things Matter, edited by Daniel Miller. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

VI. Post-Print Media

Baron, Naomi S. 2008. Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, Henry. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.

Morley, David. 1980. The Nationwide Audience: Structure and Decoding. London: British Film Institute.

Tolson, Andrew. 2006. Media Talk: Spoken Discourse on TV and Radio. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

My “American Religious History” Exam List

Continuing where I left off on Friday, here’s the second of four exam lists. I think it’s important we help each other out with these sorts of things so that our doctoral programs can be as useful to us as possible. So, hopefully this is a help to some other struggling Americanist. It’s a bit more of an “old school” list than the theory one from last week.

Again, if anyone out there is interested in talking about or exchanging outlines of any of these either locally or via the inter-webs let me know.

American Religious History Exam List


Ahlstrom, Sydney E. 2004. A religious history of the American people. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Albanese, Catherine L. 2007. America, religions and religion. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co.

———. 2007. A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religoin. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Evans, Curtis J. 2008. The burden of Black religion. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

Holifield, E. Brooks. 2003. Theology in America: Christian thought from the age of the Puritans to the Civil War. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press.

McLoughlin, William Gerald. 1978. Revivals, awakenings, and reform : an essay on religion and social change in America, 1607-1977. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tweed, Thomas A. ed. 1997. Retelling U.S. Religious History. Berkley: University of California Press.

Tradition Focused Surveys:

Dolan, Jay P. 2002. In search of an American Catholicism : a history of religion and culture in tension. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

McGreevy, John T. 2003. Catholicism and American freedom: a history. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton.

Sarna, Jonathan D. 2004. American Judaism : a history. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Seager, Richard Hughes, 1999. Buddhism in America. New York: Columbia University Press.

Shipps, Jan. 1985. Mormonism : the story of a new religious tradition. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Pre-20th Century:

Bonomi, Patricia U. 2003. Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America, Updated Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brekus, Catherine. 1998. Strangers Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845. Chapel Hill.: University of North Carolina Press.

Butler, Jon. 1990. Awash in a sea of faith: Christianizing the American people, Studies in cultural history. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Hall, David D. 1989. Worlds of wonder, days of judgment: popular religious belief in early New England. New York: Knopf.

Hatch, Nathan O. 1989. The democratization of American Christianity. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Jackson, Carl T. 1981. The Oriental Religions and American Thought: Nineteenth Century Explorations. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

Kidd, Thomas S. 2007. The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press

Morgan, Edmund Sears. 1963. Visible saints: the history of a Puritan idea. [New York]: New York University Press.

Orsi, Robert A. 1985. The Madonna of 115th Street: faith and community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Raboteau, Albert. 1980. Slave Religion: “The Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Schmidt, Leigh Eric. 2005. Restless souls: the making of American spirituality. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Seager, Richard Hughes. 1995.The World’s Parliament of Religions: The East/West Encounter, Chicago 1893. Bloomington: Indiana University Press

Tweed, Thomas A. 1992. The American encounter with Buddhism, 1844-1912 : Victorian culture and the limits of dissent, Religion in North America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Wilson, Charles Reagan. 1980. Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

20th Century:

Allitt, Patrick. 2003. Religion in America since 1945: a history, Columbia histories of modern American life. New York: Columbia University Press.

Chidester, David. 2005. Authentic fakes: religion and American popular culture. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

Huthcinson, William R. 1976. The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Marsden, George M. 2006. Fundamentalism and American Culture.Oxford.: Oxford University Press.

Marty, Martin E. 1986. Modern American Religion. 3 vols. Chicago.: University of Chicago Press. [SKIM]

McDannell, Colleen. 1995. Material Christianity: religion and popular culture in America. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

Roof, Wade Clark. 1999. Spiritual marketplace: baby boomers and the remaking of American religion. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Wacker, Grant. 2001. Heaven below : early Pentecostals and American culture. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Wuthnow, Robert. 1998. After heaven: spirituality in America since the 1950s. Berkeley: University of California Press.

My “Theory and Method In the Study of Religion” Exam List

Over the next couple of days I’m going to be posting the various exam lists I’ve been working through and will continue to work through until my preliminary exams in November. If anyone out there is also studying for exams or just likes these books and wants to chat, talk, exchange outlines, or whatever let me know.

Theory and Method Exam List

Michael J. Altman

Religion / Society / Culture

Asad, Talal. 2003. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

Asad, Talal. 1993. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Bataille, Georges. 1992. Theory of Religion. New York ;Cambridge MA: Zone Books ;;Distributed by MIT Press.

Chidester, David. 1996. Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative Religion in Southern Africa. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Durkheim, Emile. 1995. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. New York: Free Press.

Forbes, Bruce David, and Jeffrey H Mahan, eds. 2005. Religion and Popular Culture in America. Rev. ed. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1999. Religion and Culture. edited by Jeremy R. Carrette. New York: Routledge.

Freud, Sigmund. 1964. The Future of an Illusion. Rev. Anchor Books ed. Garden City, N.Y: Anchor Books.

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.

King, Richard. 1999. Orientalism and Religion : Postcolonial theory, India and ‘the mystic East’. London ;;New York: Routledge.

Masuzawa, Tomoko. 2005. The Invention of World Religions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McCutcheon, Russell T. 2001. Critics Not Caretakers: Redescribing the Public Study of Religion. Albany: State University of New York Press.

McGrane, Bernard. 1992. Beyond Anthropology : Society and the Other. Columbia U.P.

Mizruchi, Susan. 2001. Religion and Cultural Studies. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Orsi, Robert A. 2005. Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Preus, James. 1996. Explaining religion : criticism and theory from Bodin to Freud. Atlanta Ga.: Scholars Press.

Smith, Jonathan. 1982. Imagining Religion : from Babylon to Jonestown. Chicago (Ill.) London: the University of Chicago press.

Smith, Jonathan Z. 1978. Map Is Not Territory: Studies in the History of Religions. Leiden: Brill.

Taylor, Mark C, ed. 1998. Critical Terms for Religious Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tweed, Thomas. 2006. Crossing and Dwelling : a theory of religion. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Tweed, Thomas A, ed. 1997. Retelling U.S. Religious History. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press.

Weber, Max. 2001. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Routledge.

Weber, Max. 1964. The Sociology of Religion. Boston: Beacon Press.

Hacking the Ph.D. Degree

How is/should/could digital technology change the Ph.D. program in the humanities?

Tanya Roth’s great Hacking the Academy post on “Hacking the Dissertation” pushed me to think through how one might hack graduate training.  Roth has seen the light on the other side of ADB (all but dissertation) and she does a good job rethinking the dissertation process.  I, however, have just passed through two years of course work and I am now staring down the barrel of four exam lists and comprehensive exams in October.

From this position in the middle of my own specific degree program in American Religious Cultures in the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory, I want to offer a few modest suggestions for hacking the Ph.D. degree. For most of these suggestions I rely a lot on my own experiences in my own program/university so I’m hoping to hear more from people other places.

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