Religion and Culture Web Forum

May 2015

Religious Studies and Digital Dialogue

In 2010 The Immanent Frame, a website published in conjunction with the Social Science Research Council, released a report entitled, “The New Landscape of the Religion Blogosphere.”  The study traced the contours of the changing terrain of writing about religion on the web, highlighting significant blogs and religion commentary sites, interrogating why and how scholars of religion share their perspectives through digital platforms, and asking what the future of such an enterprise (well into its second decade by the publication of the report) might hold.  

Nearly half a decade later, many of the issues the Immanent Frame raised in its report continue to be relevant, even while there have arisen many new questions and concerns about the content, scope, and ultimately the significance of websites and weblogs written by academics.  From daily opinion powerhouse Slate to the Chronicle of Higher Education to University of Alabama’s Studying Religion in Culture, there has been consistent debate about how, what, why, and whether academics should share their research and ruminations via the internet.

In light of the persistence of this broader issue and the continued growth of websites devoted to the scholarly analysis and explication of religion, this month the Religion and Culture Web Forum introduces a new series entitled, “Religious Studies and Digital Dialogue.”  Over the next several months we will share pieces in which scholars of religion and members of an interested, educated public reflect on the experience of managing, writing, and/or reading about religion on the internet.  Contributors will consider questions like, What is the value of a blog about religion as opposed to a print journal or monograph? How is the term ‘religion’ understood, defined, and employed on the sites they read/write and to what end?  What types of discourses and community produce and are produced by the religion blogosphere?

The first of these response will be posted in June 2015.  For now, the Web Forum seeks informal comments from its readers about their own experiences with websites devoted to the scholarly analysis of religion.  We would like to know, How have they enabled you to share your own research or to engage with the ideas of others?  What is the value of such sites?  What makes them most appealing?  What are their limitations?  All comments may be sent to and will be shared publically unless otherwise requested.

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About the Web Forum

The Martin Marty Center's Religion and Culture Web Forum is an online forum for thought-provoking discussion on the relationship of scholarship in religion to culture and public life. Each month the Marty Center, the research arm of the University of Chicago Divinity School, invites a scholar of religion to comment on his or her own research in a way that "opens out" to themes, problems, and events in world cultures and contemporary life. Scholars from diverse fields of study are invited to offer responses to these commentaries.

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The Religion and Culture Web Forum is edited by Emily D. Crews, Divinity School PhD student in the History of Religions.