Top 5 Favorite Academic Journal Articles of This Year

John-Pierre Maeli
Sep 6, 2018 · 7 min read

Along with my book and magazine reading list I like to throw in a healthy dose of academic journal articles. Sometimes they accompany current reading materials, like my foray into Second Wave Feminist literature. Sometimes they stand alone, like my research into the Radical Reformation. All in all, I love coming across new and old academic research on a myriad of subjects.

My favorite types of academic research are what I like to call “crossover” articles: this is where the author take multiple disciplines, fields, and subjects to analyze a specific topic. Most of the academic journal articles I list here will be of that nature, in no particular order.

“Unpardonable Sins: The Mentally Ill and Evangelicalism in America,” by John Weaver, in The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 23, no. 1, April 2011

[Abstract] This article explores the troubled relationship between evangelicals and the mentally ill community, focusing primarily on a Reformed/fundamentalist movement known as nouthetics or biblical counselling. I argue that for a large number of evangelicals, mentally ill people represent a diseased “other” population, in many ways as inherently “sinful” as gays and lesbians. Through this analysis, I promote a better understanding of mentally ill evangelicals, and more importantly, a better understanding of what the term “mentally ill” specifically denotes among evangelicals.

Full access | University of Toronto Press page

“Biblical counseling” always seemed like a farce. This article specifically outlines the theological and community standards and mindsets that create an unhealthy perception of the mentally ill among evangelicals.

This facet of the evangelical community dismisses mental illnesses as issues of sin. It is fascinatingly disturbing to see how certain perceptions of the mind/body and doctrine of sin can cause so much damage.

“Anti-Intellectualism in the Puritan Revolution,” by Leo F. Solt, in Church History Vol. 25, No. 4 (Dec., 1956)

[Passage from article] Liberal education, wrote Dell, with its study of language and the sciences, with its degrees and ordinations, does not change one iota the corrupt and inward evil nature in which the practitioners of its life of knowledge and learning were born. It was not only Webster and Dell who suggested that learning alone, without the power of the Holy Spirit, was insufficient preparation for the ministry. Salt- marsh, too, while admonishing men not to despise one another for learning, conceded that he allowed learning its place anywhere in the kingdom of the world, but not in the kingdom of God. Even John Lilburne believed that the truth of the gospel of Christ was “too homely a thing” for the great and learned doctors of the world to embrace. Winstanley called the universities “standing ponds of stinking waters.”

Full access | JSTOR page

Throughout my research on intellectualism and anti-intellectualism Puritanism kept coming up. It is amazing how changes in theology and outlook on faith can affect so much. It is also a reminder of how reactionary stances against injustice can have negative effects on social pillars.

“Never a Level Playing Field: Blacks and the GI Bill,” by Hilary Herbold, in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education No. 6 (Winter, 1994–1995)

[Passage from article] In an organization like the Veteran’s Administration, segregated in practice if not in principle, and closely linked with the leadership of the avowedly segregated American Legion and the VFW, educational opportunity for blacks was hardly a burning issue. The additional fact that black veterans’ housing and hospitals were officially segregated and inferior to whites’ likewise indicates the VA’s position on matters of race. As Johnson’s 1947 study noted, “Banks and mortgage agencies refuse loans to Negroes, thus making the GI Bill ineffective. Restrictive covenants confine Negroes to the worst slum areas in the nation.” And according to a recent study, the legacy of discrimination in GI Bill lending is evident today. Analyzing the large disparity between the net worth of the average black family and the average white family, the Christian Science Monitor remarks, “Not many blacks were able to take advantage of the GI Bill of Rights after World War II to buy homes at low interest rates. Their children are suffering financially as a result.

Full access | JSTOR page

The affirmative action policies of the GI Bill provide a saddening example of how policy alone is not enough to protect equality. Despite the GI Bill’s equal offerings of services to black and white veterans alike, societal forces kept blacks from enjoying the benefits.

“Leisure and Life Politics,” by Chris Rojek, in Leisure Sciences Volume 23, Issue 2 (2001)

[Abstract] From the debate on the transformation of society, two theses have emerged which are of central relevance to social thought regarding leisure. First, the post work thesis argues that society is moving into a condition in which the cybernation of labor dramatically reduces the working week and the concomitant notion of the work career. One task of social theory is therefore the review of resource distribution, notably time allocation, in the light of the radically revised demand for labor. The second thesis is that the established institutions of politics, especially party politics, are of declining significance in everyday life and that they are being replaced by life politics, that is, a syncretic, non-party form of social and cultural orientation focusing on issues of lifestyle, environment, and globalization. This article shows the relevance of the life politics and post work arguments for understanding the future of leisure. It examines the concept of civil labor and points to tensions with traditional ideas of leisure. It is a contribution to the debate on leisure policy and the projection of trends in leisure practice. Finally, it concludes that the relationship between leisure and citizenship rights will be of dominant importance in the unfolding debate on the future of leisure.

Full access | Taylor & Francis Online Page

In discussions of automation, AI, and job loss, Post-Work Theory rarely gets attention. If automation and AI are as inevitable as the “experts” say, it is worthwhile to research options for the aftermath. So far, I’ve found Post-Work Theory to avoid a lot of the apocalyptic and utopian imagery currently popular.

“A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s,” by Donna Haraway, in Australian Feminist Studies Volume 2, Issue 4 (1987)

[passage from article] Unlike the hopes of Frankenstein’s monster, the cyborg does not expect its father to save it through a restoration of the garden; i.e., through the fabrication of a heterosexual mate, through its completion in a finished whole, a city and cosmos. The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the Oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust. Perhaps that is why I want to see if cyborgs can subvert the apocalypse of returning to nuclear dust in the manic compulsion to name the Enemy. Cyborgs are not reverent; they do not re-member the cosmos. They are wary of holism, but needy for connection — they seem to have a natural feel for united front politics, but without the vanguard party. The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential.

Full Access | Taylor & Francis Online

I highly recommend you read these two Wikipedia pages on Donna Haraway’s cyborg manifesto, and the movement that grew out of it, Cyberfeminism, before reading Haraway’s manifesto. Cyborg Feminism is one of those fascinating sub-worlds of Feminist theory that I happened to stumble on while researching Betty Friedan. Haraway’s “cyborg” is not so much a physical manifestation we’re culturally accustomed to, as it is an image of a movement beyond traditional gender, politics, and feminism. Yet, she incorporates a rejection of nature, mother earth feminism, opting for a feminism that utilizes technology to reconstruct societal expectations and standards.

Haraway’s manifesto incorporates a significant amount of theories, schools of thought, and philosophical musings. Reading it without any context or previous research is not recommended. This WIRED article elaborates on the physical realities of Haraway’s manifesto.

And that ends my top five favorite academic journal articles so far this year.

One last note: an important facet of reading academic journal articles is keeping an open mind. Be critical, analytical, and curious. Doing the research requires reading the material, following up, taking notes, and avoiding reactionary behavior. If you can do the research without jumping in hyperbole or fear-mongering then you’re half-way there.

Cultivate a love of the unknown.

John-Pierre Maeli

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