This course, offered by Professor McNary-Zak, mapped and interacted with monastic communities in the Mid-South in order to further knowledge about the people that devote their lives to Christian monastic values in the region.
This project places undergraduate research at the center of Religious Studies 258: Christian Monasticism in an effort to map contemporary Christian monastic communities in the southeast region of the United States with the use of digital technologies. In its redesigned form, students in this course acquire an appreciation for monasticism as a fluid and constructed category of religious behavior defined and interpreted as a product of society and culture. Students undertake research alongside peers who are also asking theoretical and practical questions about monastic life, exploring the role of monastic practice in its particular environment, and imagining how monasticism operates as a broader religious phenomenon in the southeast region of the United States. Direct engagement with monastic practice, through the visit to a monastic community and/or the campus visit of a local monk, contributes to the research process. In response to a question about how this visit contributed to learning in the course, one student observed, “This visit has provided a more in-depth experience/perspective on the monastic life. It is very helpful to see how someone goes into the monastic life and what experiences helped shape a certain way of thinking.”
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Dr. McNary-Zak's research interests are in the area of Christian monasticism, with a focus on Christian ascetic and monastic behavior in the later Roman Empire.