The ARSP team recently traveled to Denver, Colorado, for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Annual Meeting, held this year at the Colorado Convention Center. Each November, the AAR conference brings together thousands of scholars, journalists, artists, publishers, and others from across the nation for several days of panel discussions, exhibits, and events.
ARSP co-PIs Amy DeRogatis and Isaac Weiner presented in a Wildcard Session on “Teaching Local Religion with Digital Humanities: Objects, Methods, Pedagogies.” Reflecting on their experience integrating the ARSP into the classroom, they discussed how participating in the project has introduced undergraduate students to key practical, theoretical, and ethical questions in the study of religion. Their presentation drew on insights they elaborate further in a recently published article, “Turning students into scholars: Using digital methods to teach the critical study of religion.” ARSP pilot site coordinators Christopher Cantwell and Rachel M. Lindsey also participated on the panel.
ARSP Graduate Project Manager Caroline Toy, whose dissertation research focuses on fan cultures and religion, participated in a panel titled “Fictional Religion and Fan Fiction in Science Fiction and Fantasy.” Her paper was titled ” ‘Faith in the Legend, Even If It’s Fiction’: Emergences of Religiosity in Doctor Who Fan Commentary.” She also attended a variety of panels on religion and popular culture and American religion, as well as presentations by her colleagues.
As part of the AAR Arts Series, throughout the conference, ARSP multimedia producer Lauren Pond exhibited prints from her recent photography book, Test of Faith: Signs, Serpents, Salvation, which won the prestigious 2016 Duke Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. Test of Faith provides a deeply nuanced portrayal of Pentecostal serpent handlers – specifically, the life, death, and legacy of Pastor Mack Wolford, and Lauren’s relationship with his family. At the conclusion of the exhibit, Lauren gave a talk about the project, how it has transformed her as a photographer, and how it has inspired her current work in audio. She also enjoyed attending panel sessions about religion and visual culture, as well as meeting other scholars who share her interests.