Jump to content

Religion and... Programs

Recommended Posts

Hi, everyone!

Some if you may have seen my other posts on the Literature section (and perhaps this topic belongs there, though I’m sure I’ll find out soon). Anyhow, I’ve been struggling with how to proceed with grad school. I’m a Biblical Studies and English double major (History minor) at a small, private university in the Deep South with a 4.0 major and cumulative GPA; 163V, 149Q, 5.5 AWA GRE. I’m currently doing an undergraduate honors thesis on Biblical Inversion in Flannery O’Connor, and I have two papers sent off  for consideration for presentation/publication. I recently completed a seminar in Walker Percy this past summer, and I am about to start an Independent Study on C.S. Lewis. I also just completed a Literary Analysis of women in the Book of Revelation. As my thesis and courseload reveal, I sit comfortably at the intersection of Christian theology and modern and contemporary literature. 

It had been my plan to pursue a PhD in English. However, upon review of my past coursework and conversation with my advising professors, it seems that the majority of my work has been at the interdisciplinary crossroads. My Biblical Studies advisor and thesis advisor both suggested I look into Religion/Theology and Modernity/Society/Culture/the Arts, etc. Programs. I was curious about any advice you folks might have about these types of programs. I should add that I have considered the MTS over the MDiv (as it relates to Masters) given that I don’t feel a call to preaching, though if entry from the BA into the PhD is possible, that would be preferred. 

So far I have looked at

PTS - Religion and Modernity

UVA - Theology, Ethics, and Culture

Vanderbilt - Religion and the Arts (MTS/MDiv; doesn’t seem like there’s much funding)

Baylor - Religion and Literature

Yale - MAR Religion and the Arts

Duke was suggested by a colleague as well. 

I’m sure there are others. Given the late date of all this, I’ve been absorbing quite a lot of info, but I don’t know how well I processed any of it. Perhaps I’m looking the wrong direction, but I’m hoping you all can steer me from the edge of the cliff if need be. 


Edited by theinforat
Link to post
Share on other sites

What are your goals in getting a PhD?

My sense is that it would be difficult to get a job in an English department with a degree from a religious studies program. Whereas if you were clearly focusing on religion and literature, then it would be more plausible that you'd be competitive for a religion and literature position in a religious studies departments. Of course, there aren't all that many of the latter sorts of jobs to begin with.

That being said, you probably shouldn't make your decision purely based on job prospects (they're not great in either field). The question then would be in which department does the sort of research you wish to pursue make more sense? From the description you give, it sounds like you're more of a literary scholar who is interested in religious and theological issues as they appear in literature. If that's the case, I think it's certainly plausible to pursue that sort of research agenda in an English department. One thing I would suggest doing is finding scholars whose work is similar to the sort of thing you would like to do and see what sorts of departments they're in and what sorts of departments they got their PhDs from.

One final note: my sense is that most people entering a religious studies PhD program already have a masters. In an English department, on the other hand, it's not uncommon for people to enter with just a BA.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say it might be to your advantage to pursue a Ph.D. in English instead. Part of this is because from most of what I've observed in most religious studies departments, they've often taken more ethnographic(anthropological or sociological), historical, or philosophical/theological methodologies over literary analysis. On the flip-side, you'll find people in English departments who do religion quite well and are read by people in religious studies departments. Some scholars that do religion and literature in English departments include Emily Ogden at UVA and Sarah Rivett at Princeton. You can also do an English department at a religiously-affiliated school like Baylor where they might want to cultivate your skills/abilities in biblical literary analysis. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.