Saturday, December 04, 2004

Pagan Studies in the Academy (AAR musings, part 2)

Right now more than 50 scholars who work at least some of the time in Pagan Studies are anxiously awaiting an announcement from the American Academy of Religion's program committee.

Steered by Cat McEarchern, organizer of the last two Conferences on Contemporary Pagan Studies, we have put together a proposal for a "consultation" on Pagan Studies as part of the AAR's regular annual meeting, as opposed to an "additional meeting," our current status.

The AAR has four levels of program units: consultations, seminars, groups, and sections, each one longer-lived and with more time slots during the meeting. Consultations are for "nascent discourses seeking to establish a constituency and create a framework for thinking about a specific set of problems," in AAR-speak.

This whole process began during the 1995 annual meeting, when Selena Fox and Dennis Carpenter of Circle Sanctuary organized an informal meeting of scholars in Paganism and nature religion. In 1996 the baton was passed to me. We had another brief meeting and agreed to start a listserv for researchers in the field.

In 1997 a group of us met and wrote up a consultation proposal, which was rejected on the grounds that we had not adequately proven that our intellectual concerns could not fit into an existing unit, such as New Religious Movements.

From 1999-2002 we met for one 2.5-hour session before each AAR-SBL annual meeting, which I organized, and presented papers just like a real program unit. Then Cat stepped forward and, beginning in 2003, organized a day-long session.

In the meantime, I found an academic publisher to take over The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, and other publishers began showing interest in publishing Pagan Studies books, most notably AltaMira Press.

Plus the AAR is now actively soliciting new program units, which it was not in 1997. So we're hopeful. Watch this space for more news. (AAR Musings Part 1 here.)


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