Why Study Religion? with Dr. Bradley Dubos

Why Study Religion? is a video series in which the CSR asks its faculty, students, staff, and guests what is important to them about the academic study of religion and why more folks should consider pursuing it. Find out more about the Center and its initiatives HERE. To learn more about OSU’s Religious Studies Major, visit our website at THIS LINK.

Why does Dr. Bradley Dubos, Provost’s Fellow in English and CSR affiliate faculty, think it’s important to study religion? Shurouq Ibrahim, CSR’s Graduate Research Associate interviewed Dr. Dubos to find out. Watch the video below for his response!

Shurouq: How would you answer the question: Why study religion?


Dr. Bradley Dubos:

So I study U.S. and indigenous literatures. And for me, there are really two major draws for thinking about religion and literature together.

The first is that religion is a site of incredible human creativity. Religion matters to so many people across different cultures throughout history, and when something matters, people get creative with it. So if we look at literary works, or art, or other works that address religious ideas, we’ll find that religion is often an opportunity for heightened creative expression, for stretching the imagination to make sense of some of these big, difficult questions that we confront. And we’ll also see writers and artists drawing on religion as a resource for creative forms of community building and placemaking. One of the things that interests me about early American history in particular is that many of the earliest and most influential Native American and African American writers are deeply engaged with religious beliefs and vocabularies and spaces. But they also powerfully transform these beliefs and vocabularies and spaces in totally creative and visionary ways that continue to shape what America is today. So that’s creativity.

The other draw for me is that studying religion can help us understand how important religion is to how we organize and experience our worlds — so our sense of place. And we could think of this in really big terms. What is the relationship between Earth and the cosmos? Why are we here? What is our purpose? What are our responsibilities on this planet? But we could also scale it down and think about it on a more everyday level. So, living in the United States, just moving through our daily lives, we might pass different places of worship. We might come across places that considered sacred or set apart in some way, such as cemeteries. We might see religious language and iconography around us, even in supposedly secular or political spaces. There’s a true diversity of beliefs and practices reflected around us that are carving out all these different religious spaces. And so, even for those who don’t identify as religious, these religious landscapes still impact the ways that we all orient ourselves and move through the world.

Dr. Bradley Dubos is a Provost’s Fellow in Native American Literature and Culture in the Department of English. He is a collaborative faculty member in the American Indian Studies program and a faculty affiliate of the Center for the Study of Religion. Dr. Dubos specializes in pre-1900 U.S. literatures and Native American and Indigenous literatures. His research interests include Indigenous poetry, American religious traditions, placemaking, and place-based pedagogy. To read more about Dr. Dubos’ research, please visit his professional profile

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