Making Our Way – Updating the Guide for Women in Religion by Kecia Ali

dissertation, Advising, feminism and religion

Mary E. Hunt, Monique Moultrie, and I are updating the Guide for Women in Religion. The original version was edited by Mary with an impressive cast of contributors and first published ten years ago. Organized with entries from “A” (AAR) to “Z” (Zeitgeist), it was the successor to the 1992 Guide to the Perplexing, which billed itself as a “survival manual” and was team-written by a group that includes several now-legendary figures in the field, then junior folks trying to find their way in the sometimes hostile, often bewildering landscape of academic religious studies, particularly at the AAR and SBL.

With each iteration of the Guide, some important things have changed. (Others have not, but that’s another blog.)

One thing that has changed for the better:  There are now plenty of women in senior positions, women who have attained the rank of full professor (and retired as emerita), or direct major organizations, who are recognized as leaders in their scholarly fields. Women’s studies in religion has gained prominence as a serious subfield, and gender as a crucial category (or factor, or variable, or consideration, or analytic lens) appears in a great deal of scholarship and not a few job ads. Continue reading “Making Our Way – Updating the Guide for Women in Religion by Kecia Ali”

Gender and Teaching in Higher Education by Margaret Miles

First thing to say is that your experience in teaching will be different than mine. Then was then (1978); now is now.

My first position (GTU doctorate in history; assistant professor, tenure track) was at the Harvard University Divinity School. My starting pay was 15k and I felt rich because I’d been a grad student! The first thing I needed to know – and didn’t – was that everyone at HDS, students and faculty alike was sure that he/she, but especially she, was an imposter, the one that the search committee or admissions committee had made a mistake in inviting them. I became the first tenured woman at HDS in 1985. At the end of the 80s, still the only tenured woman, with a lot of help from my friends, I initiated a doctoral concentration in Religion, Gender, and Culture.

With a degree and dissertation specializing on Augustine and 4th c. Mediterranean Cnty, I was hired to replace the illustrious (but alas, retired) George Hunston Williams teaching 1700 years of Christian history. I quickly learned not to present myself as an authority on these centuries. Of course I felt this as a terrible lack. But over almost 20 years of teaching at HDS I came to think of not posturing as an authority as a great pedagogical strategy. So even if I knew the answer to a question I learned to say, “Well, let’s see. Here’s how I would go about looking that up.” Then suggest that the student look it up. This helps the student both to get experience in scholarly research and to remember the answer! Continue reading “Gender and Teaching in Higher Education by Margaret Miles”

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