Students Present at Religious Studies Conference

March 14, 2019

Three Religious Studies majors presented papers at the American Academy of Religion/Western Region annual conference.

This was just the second year that undergraduate papers have been accepted and the University of Arizona is the only university to send undergraduate students both years.

Sophie Penn Barshay, majoring in Religious Studies and History, Chelsea Forer, majoring in Religious Studies and Anthropology, and Gamini Sethi, majoring in Religious Studies and Art History, each presented alongside faculty members and graduate students at the conference in Tempe. Blayne Roach, a 2018 graduate in Religious Studies, also presented.

Barshay’s presentation, “’Fatal’ Deviations From Tradition: How the Christian New Right Influenced American Conceptions of Family and Gender Roles as Exemplified in 80s and 90s Femme Fatale Movies,” drew on research for her Honors Thesis project.

“I was very grateful for the opportunity to present my research at the AARWR conference, as well as for the opportunity to learn about other interesting research projects in the field. It was also great to get feedback on my presentation from a wide variety of people,” she said.

Forer’s paper, “The Eye of the Scholar of Religion: A Lens of Resistance,” represented a case study, culminating in her senior Honors Thesis, that looks specifically at the modes and means of resistance in providing an undergraduate education in Religious Studies at a public, research-based university institution.

“Presenting alongside other scholars with similar interests showed me I am not alone, and instead am interested in pedagogical approaches that are cutting edge and currently researched by others,” Forer said. “I feel like part of the community of Religious Studies scholars after my experience.”

Sethi’s presentation, “Reimagining Religious Objects in the Postcolonial World” focused on the parallels between the historic plunder of art and illegal acquisitions of art by museums.

“The conference was a wonderful opportunity, and a true highlight of my time here at the UA. I was truly fascinated by the variety of research that fell under the larger ‘Religious Studies’ umbrella and really appreciated the opportunity to be able to discuss my research with individuals who had such varied academic backgrounds,” she said.