Dr. John Lyden Attended the 2017 American Academy of Religion Meeting

November 27, 2017

Dr. John Lyden, Liberal Arts Core Director, attended the 2017 American Academy of Religion Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts from November 17-21. There he presented two papers: 

“Teaching Islam and Current Events through Experiential Learning”

This paper discussed Dr. Lyden’s Core Seminar II class, “Islam in America,” which he is currently teaching.  The class involves an experiential component that includes community engagement and personal contact with Muslims in the greater Des Moines area. It also includes a social justice advocacy pedagogy that empowers students to research and develop strategies for social and political change, education, and community dialogue. Dr. Lyden shared information about the design and delivery of the course, and preliminary results from student reflections on the impact the course has had on their attitudes towards Islam.

Streaming the Upside Down: Stranger Things on Netflix Than Are Dreamt of in Broadcast Television”

Stranger Things is a particularly effective example of a new online series that is designed to be binge watched in a short time period. As such, it demonstrates an alternative to both theatrical films and traditional television by providing more complex character development than a two hour film but more unity than a television show which is broadcast over several months. In this paper, Dr. Lyden proposed that the series effectively conveys religious meaning through this format by suggesting a mythological view of the world that is characterized by a struggle between good and evil forces, a moral vision that commends those who resist and protect the innocent, and a ritualized reception through an intense viewing experience that can be repeated and shared with others.