Posted on November 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm by Dr. Jim
Finally, we have sorted out the Call for Papers for the conference that is the highlight of Dr. Jim’s academic year! Horray!
RESEARCH IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES CONFERENCE 2010
May 1-2 University of Lethbridge
I started the Research in Religious Studies Conference for R. S. Students at the U of L in 2003, and it has been a glorious success. Some years we can get as many as 40 papers presented by undergraduates and MA students from all across Western Canada, North West U.S.A. and beyond.We have had students from Vanderbilt Divinity School, University of Toronto and even further afield. It all takes place this time over the first Saturday and Sunday in May 2010.
It is an absolutely wonderful experience for the students and a wonder experience for me and my colleagues. Imagine ending the term listening to some of the best undergrad papers of the year presented with an often surprising level of professionalism. The students who come are usually the most engaged and interested, and it shows in their work. It is quite nice to see how good student’s work can be one they take their professors’ comments to heart and rewrite their essays for presentation. It really builds their confidence, especially for the undergrads looking to start graduate study soon.
We will consider any paper from an undergraduate, Masters level or recent graduates that follows a secular academic approach towards understanding any aspect of any religious tradition, practice or belief. What kind of papers we actually get is determined to a large degree by which upper-level seminars are taught by professors willing to advertise the conference that year. We have had a lot of papers on modern Christianity, religion and the arts, Buddhism and many more that have been very hard to classify. I would like to see more on Islam, modern and medieval Judaism, and Hebrew Bible. Anyway, if anyone is interested or wants more information, just contact the organizing committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accommodations are on campus, and two nights should be booked (last year I think it was about $45 per night). We try to keep the registration fee as low as possible and it includes a continental breakfast for the Saturday and Sunday and lunch Saturday. The last papers is usually around 11:30 or so on Sunday.
This year, our keynote speaker on the Saturday banquet will be Dr. Christine Mitchell of St. Andrew’s College, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon SK.
Please feel free to post, repost, praise and advertise widely.
For a copy of the poster in PDF format, go here:
Call for Papers_2010
The conference website still needs some tweaking but it should be pretty much functional in a few days.
GO HERE for the submission forms, etc.
Here is some information on what the RRS meeting is all about:
How is conference organized?
The Research in Religious Studies Conference is modeled on those hosted by the premier professional learned societies in religious studies: the American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature, and Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, albeit with some important changes.
These conferences are typically organized into a set of “sessions” each featuring three or four presenters. Each presenter is given a specific amount of time to make her or his presentation and to allow for questions and discussions. Our conference follows the general tradition of 30 minutes per presentation, which means about 20 minutes for the actual paper and 10 for comments.
Sometimes, students suggest specific topics for a round table discussion, and we are always willing to hear ideas for those, too!
Each session has a presider, who introduces the speakers and oversees the discussion period. The presider is also the timekeeper, and may well cut a speaker off who goes over the time limit. The presider is also supposed to defuse any emotional showdowns, but having to do this is a very rare occurrence for us.
The sessions are organized on specific topics and 3 or 4 sessions may be going on at once. For most professional conferences, would-be presenters apply for the specific session, and only the 3 or 4 best ones are selected. This is not what we do, however. We referee the paper proposals first, and do the best we can to make relevant sessions out of the papers we have accepted. This means grouping the papers can be a very “creative” enterprise.
What are conference papers?
Academic conferences are not simply about sharing your views, but your hard work.
Conference papers present the results of formal research and generally have a lot of similarities to the kinds of papers you may have written for post-graduate or upper-level undergraduate courses. They differ in some ways as well, but if you’ve ever put together a good term paper, you are well on your way!
We do not expect you to write something new for our conference, but to rework a paper you have written or are writing for a class. In the very least, this involves getting the length right for the time allotted, and tweaking your wording so that the paper is easy to understand orally.
Many scholars use conference paper to “test-fly” the conclusions of their research and to open key elements of a larger project to public scrutiny so they can fix weaknesses in it before submitting their work for publication. The Research in Religious Studies Conference seems to work the other way around, with the conference presentation generally coming after the “real” test of submitting a paper to a professor for a grade. Looks are deceiving, however. Academic work is a process. There is a lot to learn by rewriting a good paper in view of professor’s comments to see just how good it can be. And who knows, you may still get the conference paper published!
What is the conference atmosphere like?
This can vary widely, but it is rather different from that of a class or seminar. On the one hand, our meeting has a certain formality to its organization and scheduling, and so you do not have the intimacy of a familiar class environment. On the other hand, on inter-personal levels, it is very laidback and mutually supportive.
In all likelihood you have never seen many of the folks in the audience before and have not had most of a semester to become familiar with your professor’s expectations. In a conference, it is between you and your peers. Although you are the expert in your particular topic, you are not there simply to teach but to convince others that what you have learned is academically credible while learning from your well-educated audience.
Still, there is ample opportunity for meeting people, making friends and so forth, so don’t be on edge the whole time. Remember, most of the people coming are doing a paper themselves, so they are just as self-conscious as you!
How do I suggest a paper?
Go to the conference website and follow the links there to submit the title and an abstract (short summary) of what your paper is about on the online form. You do NOT have to submit the whole paper!
How will my proposed paper be evaluated?
All of the paper proposals are evaluated for how well they convince the reader of the following:
1) The topic concerns something of interest concerning the academic study of religion, widely conceived. Papers from a wide array of academic disciplines are welcome, but the conference is not a suitable venue for papers expounding confessional or faith perspectives.
2) The author appears familiar with the most important scholarship regarding the subject area.
3) The paper appears to be based on solid and thorough research and follows an academically sound method of approaching its subject.
4) The abstract shows that the author can communicate ideas well.
We will take into account the level of the student proposing a paper. Many students will find we accept the proposal as submitted. Some, however, may be asked to rework the proposal in light of concerns we may have over clarity, approach, etc. typos and the like. Please note: not all papers will be accepted!
Sadly, we do not have the resources to provide financial assistance for travel or accommodations.
HERE for the submission forms, etc.