What is Religious Studies?
Very few things have the impact on human culture that religion does. Think of the history of Newfoundland, the role of the religious right in the United States, or the events in the Middle East. Our values, our understanding of ourselves as individuals, our understanding of society, our view of nature, even our definition of truth, stem from concepts originally fostered in a religious environment.
Religious Studies is the exploration of the expression of religion in human culture. It explores human ideas about the divine, as well as the way religious concepts are expressed in texts, rituals, and belief systems. It studies the history of religion as well as important religious figures. It analyses the influence of religion on other aspects of culture, as well as the influence of culture on religion. As an academic discipline Religious Studies is not limited to a single tradition or religion; it encompasses all religions from all cultures and all times: it is global in scope and multicultural in tenor.
The Department of Religious Studies at MUN explores these questions in a non-confessional setting. This means that the "truth-value" of any religious outlook is not at issue. We do not ask whether a religion is right or wrong. Rather, we ask how and why a religion is meaningful to the people who practice it. The goal is not to enhance our own personal faiths, although this may be a welcome side benefit to some, but to explore faith and belief from the perspective of the liberal arts.
Extension of Deadline for MA Applications
The Department of Religious Studies has extended its deadline for applications for an M.A. in Religious Studies until May 15, 2013. Our areas of research specialization include Religion and Popular Culture, Philosophy of Religion, Ethics and Social Justice, Hebrew Bible, New Testament Studies, New-Age and Pagan Religious Movements, Religious History of Newfoundland and Labrador, Chinese and North American Buddhism, Buddhism and Psychology, Hinduism, Islam in the West, Religion and Politics, and Christianity. We offer both a two-year thesis stream and a one-year project stream. Funding is available for qualified students, including grants and teaching assistantships. Interested students may apply online at http://www.mun.ca/become/graduate/programs/rels.php or contact Dr. Michael Shute at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Religious Studies: Text and Context Symposium, April 11-12, 2013
The Department of Religious Studies is pleased to announce a two-day symposium that will explore the textual and contextual underpinnings of methodological approaches to the study of religion.
The two-day interdisciplinary research symposium aims to highlight the multitude of approaches and data examined by scholars who study religion across faculties. Participants are invited to present research findings, share research in progress, and foster scholarly conversations related to method and theory in the study of religion.
Drs. Celia Rothenberg (McMaster University) and Hillary Rodrigues (University of Lethbridge) are facilitating workshops related to context and text.
- UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS: The Department would like to congratulate its undergraduate scholarship winners for the 2012-13 scholarship year: Eric Fowler and Elizabeth Mysyk (John M. & Elsa S. Morgan Scholarships); Renee Roche (St. Aiden's Presbyterian Church Memorial Scholarship); Adam Critchley (The Rev. G. Lloyd Morgan Memorial Scholarship); Greg Noseworthy (Rev. Prof. A.C. Cheyne Scholarship); and Rebekah Hayley (John & Lucy Lee & Family Memorial Bursary). Well done!
- FACULTY OF ARTS DEPARTMENTAL BOOK PRIZE: Congratulations also to Adam Critchley on receiving the Faculty of Arts Departmental Book Prize for Religious Studies. This prize is awarded annually by the Faculty of Arts upon the recommendation of the Department to a student who is on the Dean's List. Congratulations, Adam!
- RELIGIOUS STUDIES STUDENTS ON THE DEAN'S LIST: The following Religious Studies students are on the Dean's List for 2011-12: Adam Critchley, Jacob Edson, Eric Fowler, Elizabeth Mysyk, Victoria Pilon, Renee Roche, Jared Thompson, Michael Westcott. Congratulations to all on your accomplishment!
- CONVOCATION AWARDS (SPRING 2012): Congratulations to Victoria Pilon on being awarded the University Medal for Academic Excellence in Religious Studies. And congratulations to Michael Westcott on being awarded the Harvey and Doris Murcell Scholarship in Religious Studies. Congratulations and best wishes to both!
- Check out our Spring 2013 courses.
- Congratulations are in order for Dr. Jennifer Selby, who was a successful applicant for the 2012 SSHRC Insight Development Grant Competition. Jennifer was awarded $64,919 over a two-year period for her project.
- Congratulations are also in order for Dr. Michelle Rebidoux for the publication of her recent book, The Philosophy of Michel Henry (1922-2002): A French Christian Phenomenology of Life. Quoting the abstract, "This study looks at the phenomenological work of 20th-century French thinker Michel Henry, exploring Henry's work in its various dimensions: in its situatedness within the Western philosophical tradition, especially in its relation to Heidegger's critique of onto-theology; in its dialogue with classic philosophies of the subject and the interior life; in its relation to the question of language and the problem of representation; with regards to ethics, the problem of inter-subjectivity and contemporary philosophies of 'the other'; and finally, in terms of its possible contribution to Christian theological thinking today." Link to the book, including review excerpts and table of contents) on the Edwin Mellen website: http://www.mellenpress.com/mellenpress.cfm?bookid=8605&pc=9.
- Congratulations to Dr. David N. Bell on his appointment as Honorary Research Professor, following his retirement in January 2012.
- Jessica Ford, who convocated with her Master of Arts in Religious Studies in May 2012, has been accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Ottawa. Jessica did her Master's thesis under the supervision of Dr. Patricia Dold; her thesis is entitled "Fire: The Elemental Nature of Draupadi." All the best to Jessica!
- Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Selby on the recent publication of her new book, Questioning French Secularism: Gender Politics and Islam in a Parisian Suburb (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012). Quoting the blurb for the book: "Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, this book examines how contemporary secularism in France is positioned as a guarantor of Muslim women's rights. Selby analyzes public discourses on secularism in France to consider how Islam becomes subsumed under the fetishized headscarf, how women's bodies come to represent collective identities, and how the activism and engagement of suburban Muslim women with secular politics is ignored." http://us.macmillan.com/questioningfrenchsecularism/JenniferASelby
- The Department is happy to announce that Dr. Michelle Rebidoux' eight-month contract has been extended for a further eight months for the academic year 2012-13.
- Elizabeth Mysyk, a Religious Studies major, has received a $1,500 scholarship from the Memorial University Golf Tournament Scholarship Fund. Congratulations, Elizabeth!
- Dr. Kim Ian Parker has been appointed Head of the Department of Religious Studies for the 2011-2014 term. Dr. Parker is starting his 26th year at Memorial and replaces Dr. David Bell, who will be retiring in January after 42 years of service.
- Congratulations to Dr. Hans Rollmann for his Parks Canada CEO Award for his translation of the diary of Johann August Miertsching, a Moravian missionary stationed in Okak, Labrador. Dr. Rollmann's translation contributed to the finding of the graves of three seamen from the HMS Investigator, the ship sent to find what happened to John Franklin's ill-fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage. For full story see http://today.mun.ca/news.php?news_id+6621 (go to Archive, September 2011, and find Diary translation leads to discovery, September 12).
- Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Porter, who has been successful in the SSHRC Standard Research Grants competition for 2011. The title of Dr. Porter's proposal is "Religion and Disney: Exploring the Dimensions of Disney's Religious Work in Films, Theme Park Productions, and Fan Communities." The grant has been awarded to her by her peers in recognition of her hard and dedicated work in her field of research, and the Department of Religious Studies is delighted to offer its sincere congratulations to Dr. Porter for such a significant achievement.
- New One-Year MA Programme: The Department of Religious Studies has a new one-year MA programme open to full-time and part-time students. The purpose of the new "Course-Based MA with a Project" option will be to allow full-time students to complete the requirements for a Master of Arts degree in one calendar year (three continuous semesters) and to allow part-time students to complete the MA requirements without having to take a leave of absence from their place of employment. The "Course-Based MA with a Project" option does not replace the thesis-based programme and will operate in conjunction with it; both will share three required courses (6100, 6120, and 6130). Funding for eligible students for the project option is guaranteed for one year, whereas funding for the thesis-based option is guaranteed for two years. For further information, please contact our Graduate Officer, Dr. Michael Shute, A5026, 864-8113, email@example.com.
- Congratulations to Dr. Michael Shute for the recent publication of two volumes: first, Lonergan's Discovery of the Science of Economics (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010); and second, Lonergan's Early Economic Research: Texts and Commentary (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010). Both are part of the Lonergan Series.
- Congratulations to Dr. Lee Rainey on the recent publication of Confucius and Confucianism: The Essentials (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405188405.html
- Congratulations are also in order to Dr. Hans Rollmann, editor and contributor, on the recent publication of Moravian Beginnings in Labrador: Papers from a Symposium held in Makkovik and Hopedale. An Occasional Publication of Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, No. 2. St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador: Faculty of Arts Publications, 2009. http://www.mun.ca/nls/moravian.php
- With the able assistance of a team of graduate and undergraduate students in the Department, and thanks to funding from the Departments of Education and Multiculturalism in the province, Drs. Dold and Selby have coordinated two "Religion and Diversity in Newfoundland and Labrador" webpages. The project has two parts: the first is online support for grade twelve students taking a World Religions course. This site features links and streaming video alongside course material to bring to life the traditions the students are studying in a lively and engaging way. Also included are sections from Derek Norman's documentary, Religions on the Rock (2009), with narratives from the Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities in St. John's. Please see http://www.arts.mun.ca/worldreligions . The second website, which includes topical articles as well as profiles of local religious communities and organizations, is expected to be launched soon.
- Take a look at the Religious Studies Handbook.
- GRADUATE PROGRAM: If you have a BA degree with a strong major or honours in Religious Studies, why not consider doing an MA? Financial support is available. See the note above under Latest News for information about our new course-based option. For more information click on the link to the "Graduate Program" in the left hand column of this page, or call the Dept at (709) 864-8166 or (709) 864-8594.
- Congratulations to Dr. David Bell on the occasion of becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society.
- GRADUATE FELLOWS: The Department would like to congratulate Heather Boyco and Micheline Hughes on being named "Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies."
- DEAN'S LIST: Congratulations to the following Religious Studies majors who were named to the Dean's List for 2010-11: . Lisa Abbott; Jacob Edson;Eric Fowler; Jacinda Green; Elizabeth Mysyk; Rebecca Ralph; Renee Roche; Caitlin Russell; Jared Thompson; Lisa Walters. Well done!!
- Congratulations to Rebecca Ralph on being awarded the University Medal for Academic Excellence in Religious Studies and to Emily Worsley on being awarded the Harvey and Doris Murcell Scholarship in Religious Studies at the Spring Convocation 2011.