The REL Digital Lab

Religious Studies Digital Lab The Univeristy of Alabama

The REL Digital Lab builds on curricular and research initiatives by bringing together old and new technologies for creating and disseminating scholarship, and provides a central hub for the digital activities of the Department of Religious Studies. The RELdl is a space that supports collaboration among faculty and with students, with the goal of developing shared projects along with co-authored submissions and publications. Faculty and students may use our computers, audio recording equipment, video equipment, high-resolution scanner with professional-quality apps, platforms, and programs. The RELdl also exists virtually though this website and the Religion in Culture MA Workspace on Slack.

The RELdl is a resource for those interested in using digital tools and methods in their research and teaching. We aggregate information and resources for doing digital scholarship and host regular workshops and brown bags to introduce tools and projects relevant to our members’ work. Our goal is to ease the process of getting started with digital projects and to develop new projects for faculty and students to collaborate on. We rely on campus partnerships—such as eTech and the ADHC—to support project development, hosting, and archiving and preservation.

How to connect with us

We are always looking to learn more about computational work taking place on campus and to explore future collaborations. To start a conversation, please email Dr. Loewen or other faculty on our advisory board.

Edited in Prisma app with Cosiness

REL Digital Lab Alums

Jeri E. Wieringa (2020-2023)

Dr. Wieringa joined the REL faculty from 2020-2023 as a specialist in digital humanities and the social theory of religion. An alumna of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, she has been active in digital humanities scholarship since 2011, and has worked on multiple grant-funded software and publishing projects, including Omeka and Digital Humanities Now.

A historian by training, her research examines new religious movements in the US through the lenses of gender and technology, with a particular interest in millenarianism and processes of knowledge formation.

In the digital humanities space, she focuses on methodologies and infrastructure for the critical use of computation in the study of human cultures. In 2019, she defended the second digital history dissertation project accepted by the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University, which used computational text analysis to explore the relationship between gender norms and end-times beliefs in the development of Seventh-day Adventism.

She has experience in website design and development, digital publishing, Python, natural language processing and machine learning with historical texts, and project management.

To learn more about Dr. Wieringa’s ongoing work, see her personal webpage.

Erica Bennett (2022-2023)

Erica Bennett is a third-year master’s student in the Religion in Culture Masters Program in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Alabama. She received her undergraduate degree in Religion and Anthropology at Millsaps College in Jackson Mississippi; with her honors thesis focusing on pop culture and news media conversations surrounding New Religious Movements. While at UA, Erica’s research interests have expanded to include digital humanities and museums.

During her master’s degree, Erica has spent many hours in the digital lab for a variety of projects. The most notable of these projects being her work with the department podcast, Study Religion, where she has helped produce more than 10 episodes. Outside of the department, Erica has received her Museums Studies Certificate and has had many internships with the University of Alabama Museums. Her experience at UA has made Erica versed in many digital resources offered to UA students. Learn more about Erica’s work on the Graduate Directory.

In the Digital Lab this year, Erica will assist Dr. Wieringa with Open Lab hours and offer assistance to anyone seeking help (especially in Audio Recording and/or Podcast Editing).

Joseph (Joe) DeFrank (2021-2022)

Coming to REL’s M.A. in the Fall of 2020, Joseph DeFrank from Canton, GA, graduates in the Spring of 2020 with a B.S. in History and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Young Harris College. An Irish-American scholar for an academic year at Queen’s University of Belfast, some of his main interests include the study of religion in the United States, new religious movements, and what the future of “religion” might be.

Personal Webpage