Fall 2019 Syllabus

REL 502 Public Humanities & Religious Studies: Foundations

Class sessions: M 1:30-3:20 pm, Manly 210

Instructor: Nathan Loewen
Email: nrloewen@ua.edu We will mostly communicate through the REL 502 channel of the Religion in Culture Slack.

Phone: 205-348-3467
Office: Manly 301; Office hours by appointment.

Course Description

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.

Course Objectives

  • The course will provide an introduction to the public and digital humanities in religious studies.
  • The course will introduce digital tools and platforms for research, scholarly communication, and public engagement.
  • The course will discuss the current state of digital humanities and public humanities in the field of religious studies.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students conduct qualitative and/or quantitative data analysis using digital research platforms.
  • Students design and build an effective website for their research.
  • Students use content management systems to build a digital collection.
  • Students produce audio that presents religious studies research to a broad public.

Course Materials

Required Software and Web Tools

Adobe CC Audigy (free with use in UA’s computer labs), Audacity or GarageBand


Required Texts

Available as free PDFs through UA’s library, from the SUPEstore, and through various online sellers.

Rockwell, Geoffrey and Stéfan Sinclar, Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretations in the Humanities, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (2016).

Burdick, Anne, et al. Digital_Humanities, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (2016).

Class Requirements

See the course page for our schedule, our assignments and the class sessions in which they are due.

Participation (30%)

You are required to attend all our class sessions. You are also required to the preparation prior to the day of that session.

Blog posts (30%)

You will be asked to compose three draft blog posts on specific dates during our course. Please have your post composed and saved as a draft (i.e. not “published”) prior to the day of its discussion in class.

Podcast assignment (20%)

Working with a partner or more, you will collaborate to produce a 3-7 minute audio segment on topics approved by our class. Ultimately, we will use everyone’s segments to compose a larger podcast file.

A final REL502 blog post (20%)

You will use the tools and resources discussed in our course to compose a final blog post that is directly related to your own research interests. Along the way, you will are also expected to keep a record of your work, such as a project schedule, work record, and progress notes.

Course Policies

As this is a graduate seminar, you are expected to attend the class, be prepared for the class, and participate in the class. Assignments and projects are expected to be completed on time. If you miss class for any reason please let me know promptly so we can ensure you don’t fall behind. Unexcused absences, frequent tardiness, or a lack of participation will lower your grade for the course. If you have any questions or concerns about the course I am happy to talk to you.

The grade scale for the course is based on satisfactory completing the above requirements. Students will be consulted individually by the instructor if their work is unsatisfactory.:

  • A         Satisfactory completion of all requirements
  • B         Satisfactory completion of at least 90% of the requirements
  • C         Satisfactory completion of at least 80% of the requirements
  • D         Satisfactory completion of at least 70% of the requirements
  • F          Satisfactory completion of less than 70% of the requirements

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Code of Academic Conduct provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

UAct Statement

The UAct website provides an overview of The University’s expectations regarding respect and civility.