1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Notification of Changes
  14. Custom Sections
  15. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  16. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  17. Severe Weather Protocol
  18. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  19. Religious Observances
  20. UAct Statement

Religion in the American South

REL 415-001Fall 2017 | 3 Credit Hours


Dr. Merinda Simmons

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

No description found

This Writing course will look at the roles and implications of myths and rituals in the American South, using the UA campus as its own case study and talking about how notions of “the past” come to be invented in different ways for different social purposes through narrative practice—specifically, memorials and monuments. While some readings will focus on specific religious groups and practices that find their homes in the region, we will emphasize analytical classifications and contestations of “the South” as an identifiable geographical and cultural space. Because the course carries the Core “W” designation, an important component of the seminar is the culminating term paper, which we will take through the writing process throughout the semester. This includes brainstorming, drafting, peer editing, and revising.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:

Student Learning Outcomes

Students in REL 415 will 
1) Identify broad critical trends and debates within Southern Studies. 
2) Contextualize the relationship between “religion” and the American South. 
3) Develop professional and analytical writing skills in relation to research, grammar, style, and clarity. 
4) Work collaboratively to improve writing and hone editing skills. 
5) Draft critical prose at various stages of the writing process and revise drafts based on peer (and professorial) review
6) Conduct archival and scholarly research.

Other Course Materials

Web Resources:

UA Box: All course readings beyond the required books will be in a shared Box folder.

Outline of Topics

Tentative Schedule

*These readings are subject to change based on the directions that our discussions take...
listen to the podcast S-Town at your convenience but no later than September 5


24 (R)  Introduction to course

Myth-Making: Sign, Symbol, South

29 (T)   David A. Graham, “Durham’s Confederate Statue Comes Down”

31 (R)  Southern Poverty Law Center, “Whose Heritage: Public Symbols of the Confederacy”

            *discuss steps of writing process and general writing guidelines


 5 (T)   Race-Cognizant Monument Tour of UA Campus

 7 (R)          Tara McPherson, “‘Both Kinds of Arms’: The Civil War in the Present”

12 (T) Craig Martin, “How Society Works: Habitus” from A Critical Introduction to the Study of


14 (R)   Grace Elizabeth Hale, “Granite Stopped Time: Stone Mountain Memorial and the

            Representation of White Southern Identity”

Story-Telling: Historicizing the South

19 (T)   Tara McPherson, Introduction to Reconstructing Dixie

21 (R)   Visit to Hoole Special Collections

26 (T)   Paul Harvey, “‘A Servant of Servants Shall He Be’: The Cnostruction of Race in American

            Religious Mythologies”

28 (R)   Cobb, Introduction to Away Down South 


 3 (T)   Archival Project Presentations

 5 (R)   Archival Project Presentations

*Archival Assignment Due

10 (T) Connor Towne O’Neill, “Residents of So-called ‘Shit Town’ Are Conflicted over S-Town

12 (R) Aaron Bady, “Airbrushing Shittown” 

17 (T) Still Processing episode on S-Town, Get Out, and Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial   

            *Final Paper Proposal Due

19 (R) S-Town roundtable (make our own podcast?) 

Self-Identifying: Representing the South

24 (T)   Michael A. Eliott, “Our Memorials, Ourselves” (from American Quarterly

26 (R) No class: mid-semester study break     

31 (T)  blog post: “Five Historic Sites with Fresh Perspectives on Interpreting Slavery and Freedom”
            Regina N. Bradley, “Slavery in the Hip-Hop Imagination”

            *Final Paper Outline & Reading List DueNovember

2 (R)    Micki McElya, “Commemorating the Color Line: The National Mammy Monument

            Controversy of the 1920s”

    Atlantic piece on the Mammy monument

 7 (T)   Scott Romine, “God and the MoonPie: Consumption, Disenchantment, and the Reliably

Lost Cause”

 9 (R)   Case Study: Beyoncé’s Lemonade 

Writing: Theorizing “the South”

14 (T)    Leigh Anne Duck, Introduction to The Nation’s Region: Southern Modernism, Segregation, and

U.S. Nationalism

16 (R) Peer-review exercise due to editor, collaborative web workshop pt. 1

21 (T)   Peer-review exercise due to author, collaborative web workshop pt. 2

23 (R)   No class: Thanksgiving

28 (T)   Sorority recruitment video discussion

            AL.com op-ed on UA video

            Buzzfeed bit on UA video

            Daily Beast op-ed on UA video

            Washington Post op-ed on performing Southern belle

30 (R)   Jezebel piece: “How to fix a Racist Frat”


 5 (T)   Paper Discussion

 7 (R)   Whitman in Alabama project   

Final essay due

Exams and Assignments

Critical Archival Assignment:

This writing assignment will be a 5-7 page critical essay related to an archival piece of data about UA that you find in some research at Gorgas Library (http://www.lib.ua.edu/libraries/gorgas/) or the Hoole Special Collections (http://www.lib.ua.edu/libraries/hoole/).  I will hand out general writing guidelines early in the semester that you will use in the course for its duration.  I will also hand out specific guidelines for this assignment when we discuss it in class.  Those guidelines will include the possible themes/questions from which you will choose your own direction.


You will make formal presentations to the class on your research topic.  Guidelines will be distributed and discussed in advance.

Final Paper Proposal:

This abstract will outline your project and detail your direction.  These will be approved before you begin writing.

Final Paper Outline and Reading List:

The outline will be a substantive one that articulates the points to be made in the final paper. The reading list does not have to be exhaustive but does need to demonstrate quality academic research and offer a developed sense of your research and writing trajectory.

Peer Edit Exercise:

At a strategic phase of your paper construction, you will edit someone’s work and have yours edited. I will give you guidelines, etc., as that draws closer. It will be an out-of-class venture, as I want you to be thorough and spend a good amount of time with the paper(s) and your own comments so as to be as helpful to your colleagues as possible.

Final Paper:

Your final paper will serve as the on-going and culminating project for the course. It will also serve in place of a final exam. Your work on the paper will progress throughout the semester, with time spent on each of the stages of the writing process. It should be approximately 10-15 pages.

Statement on Writing:

As stated in the course description and as is probably clear by the kinds of assignments outlined above, writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course.  A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper division student in Religious Studies will not be given a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs other course requirements.  Papers will be evaluated according to the standards of excellence established in the first-year sequence of composition classes at the University of Alabama.  You are encouraged to discuss writing issues with me during my office hours and by appointment. Additional recommended resources include the University's Writing Center and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition

Grading Policy

This course has a total of 1000 possible points, broken down as follows:

Discussion Questions/Participation                    5%   (50 points)

Critical Archival Assignment                            30% (300 points)

Presentation                                             15% (150 points)

Seminar Paper/Writing Process               50% (500 points)

  • Final Paper Proposal   50 points

  • Final Paper Outline and Reading List 100 points

  • Peer Edit           100 points

  • Final Paper 250 points

Final grades will be based on the following ranges: 970-1000=A+; 920-969=A; 900-919=A-; 870-899=B+; 820-869=B; 800-819=B-; 770-799=C+; 720-769=C; 700-719=C-; 600-699=D; 0-599 = F

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

Make-up Work Policy:

As a general rule, you are not able to make up work in this course.  If exceptional circumstances arise that keep you from finishing and turning in an assignment by the time of its due date, you must let me know in advance, and I will determine whether or not I will take the work at a later date/time. 

Attendance Policy

Attendance and Participation: Each student is expected to attend every class meeting, to be on time, to have read completely and with care all assignments, and to engage actively and intelligently in our discussions. After two absences, the student’s final grade will be reduced by one letter for each additional absence. In other words, if your grade average was A at the end of the semester but you had four absences, your final grade for the course would be C. If the absences are beyond your control due to health or family reasons, let me know as soon as possible. You remain responsible for anything that you miss in class, including announcements. Your positive participation in the class is also vital. I expect everyone to do the readings and to speak up during classes. Be prepared to ask questions about the readings and class material and/or contribute your own ideas.

Notification of Changes

The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.

Religious Observances

Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.

UAct Statement

The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility.  The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact)  provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, hate or bias incidents, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.