November - Dr. Patricia Dold
The ongoing pandemic has made focus a struggle, said Dr. Patricia Dold, and she knows from conversations with other people at Memorial University and throughout her life that she's not alone. "The pandemic has taken its toll on everybody," she said.
But over the past few months, Dr. Dold -- an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies -- has found ways when possible to continue her ongoing research while supporting the work done by others and contributing to the community outside of the academy.
Dr. Dold focuses her academic research on Hindu traditions, with much of her work connecting to one particular temple site in Assam, India, the Kamakhya Temple.
"Most of my work has to do with translating and doing a literary analysis on Sanskrit texts that talk about this site," she said. "And then I've done some work with with an oral hymn tradition that women residents of the site maintain and perform on a regular basis." Dr. Dold hopes to develop her dissertation into a book, and her research in this area and more broadly on Hindu goddess traditions and related areas is ongoing.
She is spending some of her current academic leave, after finishing a term as the department head, reading to catch up on more recent scholarship. Dr. Dold recently served as guest editor for a special issue of the journal Religions entitled "On Violence: Voices and Visions from Hindu Goddess Traditions." "That's an interesting project, because it put me in touch with some scholars that I didn't know before," she said.
She also devotes time to peer review of articles, book proposals and book manuscripts, as well as supervising graduate students. The collaborative aspects of academic work are important to her, Dr. Dold said, and something that some people may not realize plays such an important role in research and teaching.
"When I'm doing that kind of work, I really try and get into the headspace of the person who wrote the piece and figure out, Okay, what can I say to help you do what you want to do here," she said.
Dr. Dold is also focusing on course work, which right now involves preparing courses for online or remote delivery. For example, she is preparing an online version of Religious Studies 1000, an introductory course she believes she has taught about 30 times. However, for the coming semester she is thinking about how the course can best be delivered online in terms of best providing the students with clarity about the subject matter. "It's just a whole different ball of wax," she said.
Right now, it's important for students and researchers to be kind with themselves and realistic about what can be accomplished, Dr. Dold said. "It's not an unusual pandemic experience to be less productive, be less able to concentrate," she said.
As that pandemic was becoming more serious in February, Dr. Dold was in Rome for another area of work that is separate from her role at Memorial, but informed by it and important to her. She is a board member at the Pathways Foundation.
"It was Gemma Hickey, founder and president of Pathways, who asked me to join the board. And I know that they asked me in part because I'm a religious studies scholar," she said. But the Pathways' work, which focuses on abuse by religious institutions, differs from her own research interests and has involved learning about different topics related to clergy abuse.
"It's not about scholarship, I'm not doing research on these people -- or at this point, even with them really," Dr. Dold said. "I'm doing this work as as a as a kind of public engagement, to use my knowledge to help in whatever way I can."