Student Spotlight: Aidan Oswald, BA Honours Religious Studies

05 June 2019

Learn more about one of our students, Aidan Oswald. He is our only BA Honours student in Religious Studies. He recently presented at the Religious Studies Graduate Students' Society Symposium in April, and sits on the executive of the Religious Studies Undergrads society.

Why did you decide to major in Religious Studies?

Religion has always intrigued me. During a small hiatus from school I became increasingly motivated to research certain religious traditions and how they came to pervade politics and cultures. In returning to school, I felt compelled to "convert" to RS knowing that if something were to so completely engross my interests outside of school, it might as well be the focus of my full time study.

What was your favourite Religious Studies class or classes so far?

RELIG 475 - Contemporary Theories of Religion was an absolute blast. All of the readings were masterfully tailored to (un)teach Religion and it provided some incredible tools to help me develop my own research.

What would you tell another student who is considering taking a Religious Studies class?

Most often, the students who consider RS classes are looking for an easy elective to coast through. While I cannot speak to the efficacy of coasting, I can say that RS will act as a fundamental supplement to any degree. Any student that takes a RS class will encounter the truism that the world is rich with diversity. Thus one should be prepared to look critically at their own opinions on religion while subsequently finding the humanity the opinions of others.

What is the title of the paper you will be presenting at the RSGSS symposium?

For the RSGSS symposium, I presented a paper called "Joseph the Seer: A Relationship Between Antebellum "Folk-Magic" and The Book of

Mormon". It mainly focused on the terms "Magic" and "Religion" in the antebellum dialogue surrounding the origins of the Book of Mormon. My objective was to show that those terms were weaponized to legitimize or delegitimize the "other."

What is the general topic you hope to research for your honours thesis?

Again, using early Mormonism as a case study, I seek to examine if the race and gender prejudices of Early Mormons was derived from their hermeneutical understanding of scripture or if those scriptures were used post hoc as a discriminative etiology. My tentative title is "The Unwritten Order of Things": Establishing Race and Gender Roles in Early Mormonism, 1830-1877