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

Senior Capstone Seminar

REL 490-001Spring 2022 | 3 Credit Hours


Dr. Steven Ramey

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:

Zoom office hours - Mondays noon - 1:00 pm (https://ua-edu.zoom.us/j/82126952856. Zoom Meeting ID: 821 2695 2856)

In person office hours - Wednesdays 2:00-3:00 pm (PRH 315A)

And by appointment. Please email steven.ramey@ua.edu with questions or requests for appointments.


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

A seminar offered spring semester of each year for seniors pursuing a major or minor in religious studies or minor in Judaic studies. The professor and subject of the seminar rotate through the four areas of the curriculum. Required of all majors and minors in the Department. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

This Capstone Seminar focuses on “What comes next?” in three related ways: what comes next from reflecting on theory in the study of religion?; what comes next in the application of such theory?; what comes next in conveying our research and ideas to others? Students select the topic that they will study, analyze, and present.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
  • Hall, Louisa / Trinity : A Novel (Required)
  • Hall, Louisa / (eBook) Trinity (E - Book)

Student Learning Outcomes

Students in REL 490 will be able to

  1. Recall different theories and academic approaches in the study of religion that they encountered in their undergraduate work.

  2. Apply theories and approaches to a topic of their choice.

  3. Experiment with different ways of presenting information that reflect those theories and academic approaches.

  4. Evaluate constructively various styles of conveying information.

  5. Communicate their own findings and reflections on a specific topic.

Other Course Materials

Additional readings will be available on Blackboard, using Hypothes.is for annotating those readings.

Outline of Topics

The following schedule of assignment and topics is tentative. Readings with an asterisk are available on Blackboard and wll be annotated using Hypothes.is





Jan 12


Jan 19

Defining Terms 1

Edward Schiappa Defining Reality chps 1, 3 *

Video blog submission by noon Tuesday, HYP

Jan 26

Defining Terms 2

Karen Fields "Individuality and the Intellectuals" *


Feb 2

Topics exercise

Blog submission by noon Tuesday

Feb 9

Describing Experience 1

Joan W. Scott "Evidence of Experience" *


Feb 16

Describing Experience 2

Devi Laskar Atlas of Reds and Blues

Blog Comment

Feb 23

Describing Experience 3

Devi Laskar Atlas of Reds and Blues

Blog Comment

Mar 2

Writing exercise

Blog submission by noon Tuesday

Mar 9

Describing History 1

Dipesh Chakrabarty "History 1 and 2" *


Mar 23

Describing History 2

Louisa Hall Trinity

Blog Comment

Mar 30

Describing History 3

Louisa Hall Trinity

Blog Comment

Apr 6

Writing Exercise

Blog submission by noon Tuesday

Apr 13

Applying nonlinear strategies

Ramey TBA *


Apr 20

Presentation exercise

Video blog submission by noon Tuesday

Apr 27

Peer Editing exercise

Draft submitted to peer by noon Tuesday

May 3

Final Project Due

1:30 pm deadline

Exams and Assignments


Active participation in the seminar includes contributing to seminar discussions and commenting on the course blog. Comments in class and on the blog posts / comments of other students must be presented in a respectful and constructive fashion. Disagreement is welcome; disparaging another student is not permitted. A strong participation grade cannot be reduced to the frequency of comments, as some students are more talkative than others: the quality of the comments and questions is the primary consideration. A quieter student who makes occasional valuable comments will receive a better grade than a more talkative student whose comments do less to advance the conversation.

For each assignment involving a course blog submission, each student should make one or more substantive comments (beyond "Good job" or "I like your point") on a submission from another student. If someone is unable to participate in the discussion due to a necessary absence, additional comments on blog submissions can serve to make up for participation in missed class sessions.


Five reading assignments will be posted on Blackboard through Hypothes.is (19 Jan, 26 Jan, 9 Feb, 9 Marc, 13 April, marked on the schedule above with an * and HYP in assignment column). Students will collaboratively annotate those readings, highlighting important passages, adding comments and questions, as well as responding to the annotations of others. A minimum of 2 substantive comments on each reading are required from each student.


Two novels are required for this course, each spread over two weeks. For those four weeks (16 Feb, 23 Feb, 23 Mar, 30 Mar, marked Blog Comments on the schedule), students must post a comment as a blog entry for that week's reading, commenting on the impressions that the novel and its writing strategy generates. These comments can be general to the reading or specific to a section of the reading.


For 5 weeks (19 Jan, 2 Feb, 2 Mar, 6 April, 20 April), students must submit a video or writing assignment, posted on the course blog. These assignments (details provided in class before each submission) are intended as exercises and experiments, not necessarily final / polished versions. On the course blog, anyone in the course will be able to view and comment on the exercises, enabling everyone to learn for the experiments of others that may be more or less successful (as they are experiments). Success with these submissions is more about stretching to try new approaches to communication than perfect writing.

To enable others in the course to view your submission before class, submissions should be posted by noon on Tuesday before the class.


Students will peer review the draft of another student within the class. Drafts need to be sent to the peer reviewer and the professor by noon on Tuesday 26 April. Peer reviewers will read the draft and provide constructive comments (based on a Peer Review Worksheet) in class on 27 April. The grade for peer review will be split, 50 points for the draft (particularly how complete the draft is) and 50 points for the extensiveness of the review.


The final project consists of an 8 page paper, or equivalent alterate format, on a topic of the student's choice. The objective of the final project is to communicate information, taking into account the theory and writing approaches from the seminar. A draft of the project is due for the peer review (see above), and the final version is due at the time set for the Final Exam (3 May, 1:30 pm). Full details will be provided during the semester.

Grading Policy


POINTS (1000 points possible)



Hypothesis comments (5 x 20 points)


Responses to novels (4 x 25 points)


Exercise submissions (2 video, 3 text; 5 x 60 points)


Peer review (50 points for drafrt, 50 points for review)


Final Project


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

Due to the cooperative and experimental nature of this seminar, late submissions of written work limit the ability for everyone to learn from each experiment. However, the uncertainty and stresses of the times mean leniency is in order. Late submissions will be accepted as much as possible. Please let the professor know as soon as possible if you are unable to submit a timely assignment. Plans for submitting late work will be expected.

For the peer review, a late draft prohibits full interaction and will reduce points available on that component. Final papers not submitted by the end of the course may result in an Incomplete (I) grade, which counts as an F until it is resolved (and would delay graduation). I will ask anyone receiving an Incomplete for a plan to submit the missing material. Please alert me as soon as possible about complications with submitting material on time so that I can work with you in a manner that is fair to both you and other students in the course..

Attendance Policy

Participation in the interactive portions of the seminar are important for everyone's learning. However, with the uncertainty and stresses of these times, I will not penalize students for non-attendance, and no excuse will be required. Sessions will be recorded using Panopto and posted on Blackboard after the end of each class in case someone is unable to attend, for whatever reason. However, this leniency is not intended to be used for every class session. If you must miss repeated class sessions, please consult with the professor as soon as possible.

If you are concerned about the Participation grade because of attendance issues, please consult with the professor. Additional comments on blog posts / submissions or discussions with the professor outside of class (email, virtual or in person office hours) can contribute to the participation grade, so participation is possible even if someone is unable to attend a particular class session.

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.

Statement on COVID-19

All University faculty, staff, and students are expected to maintain a commitment to the health and safety of our campus community. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, specific health and safety standards are in place to minimize exposure and community spread on campus. In the interest of your health and safety and that of all UA students, faculty and staff, the University reserves the right to change the mode of instruction or schedule of instruction at any time, based upon prevailing public health and other guidance. While the method of delivery may change, educational instruction and opportunities will continue. As such, the University will not provide a refund of tuition, in whole or in-part, based on any such changes. Detailed information on changes in format or schedule can be found at studentaccounts.ua.edu and financialaid.ua.edu.

UA students, faculty and staff are required to comply with University Spring 2022 Operations (https://healthinfo.ua.edu/news/university-spring-2022-operations/) guidance regarding face coverings and other measures.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to Protect Our Herd. COVID-19 vaccines are being administered by the University Medical Center, the Student Health Center and various businesses and healthcare providers.

Wellness Resources

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Counseling Center

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