The study of Religion is so important and enlightening and I don’t think I would be who I am today or have the goals that I have without 481 Main Street and all the amazing professors and classes that it has to offer.– annie barton
Why did you major in Religion?
I majored in Religion because I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the majority religion intertwines with sociopolitical life in a way that excludes members of minority religions from both political decisions and social opportunities. I wanted to learn more about how religion *actually* functions in the United States, because I could clearly see that separation of church and state is not really a real thing.
Where do you imagine yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope to be teaching high school English, writing public school curriculum that is less inherently protestant, and running rivers, hiking, climbing, and skiing! I’ll live in a small but practical house somewhere on the west side of the continent, have at least two big dogs (preferably Danes or mastiffs), and spend my free time being outside and reading. Hopefully no kids, a loving partner, and family close by.
Imagine a first-year student has asked your advice about REL courses. What’s the one she shouldn’t dream about missing? Why?
Introducing Hinduism is the course that really affirmed my decision to be a REL major. Come for the interesting and seemingly-foreign subject matter, stay for the ways in which the class opens up your mind to racism and sexism within the academy that affects you blatantly as a student and really makes you think about everything wrong with the world and what you can do to change it. It’s also a great class because it exhibits how the REL major is a combination of pretty much every humanities discipline- linguistics, history, political and human geography, English and literature, and of course, political science!
If you could write any book, what would it be?
This is a tough one, but these days I would love to write a memoir about my experience growing up in, what I believe to be, the end-stages of an authoritarian capitalist government, and how it has affected my mindset about everything from linear vs. circular growth to the ethics of reproduction to climate change to spending money on a little treat. I think that my generation is located in a very unique point in history, and some sort of written map of our experiences and how we have been conditioned to handle our lives might one day prove to be a very historical document. Also a collection of short horror stories…but that’s not as relevant to the degree haha.
Any fond memories of 481 Main Street you want to share?
Too many to count, but basically just whenever those fighter jets would fly over the classroom and the entire thing would shake and everyone would just sit there in silence for, like, one minute, waiting for the ruckus to subside, and then discussion would resume as if nothing had happened.
Also, it took practice and a few choice incidents, but I am proud that I learned how to advocate for myself and my ideas as a woman in academia in 481 Main.
What did we miss asking? What else do you want to share?
Just that my degree in REL has literally changed my life and the way I think about the world. The fact that UVM doesn’t consider the REL degree or department to be worth spending money on just supports everything the degree teaches you about academia being controlled primarily by rich white men who only care about education that fits into a snug little box of protestant, capitalist, and patriarchal ideas with no room for BIPOC, female, or non-heteronormative scholars or curriculum that might challenge the norms we have upheld since slave owners were in charge…
The study of Religion is so important and enlightening and I don’t think I would be who I am today or have the goals that I have without 481 Main Street and all the amazing professors and classes that it has to offer. I cannot emphasize the importance and impact of this department on my life enough!!