Professors and students, authors and publishers, religious leaders, as well as curious laypersons will gather once more during the joint annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, taking place in a dual format this year in San Antonio, Tex., November 20–23. Last year’s AAR/SBL meeting was online only, and the decision to host both in person and virtual sessions at the 2021 event was met with enthusiasm, according to John Kutsko, executive director of SBL.
“Even in the second year of Covid and the uncertainty around in-person meetings, the attendance is a sign scholars want to return to face-to-face meetings, both for the scholarly engagement and the professional and personal networking,” he says. “I hope, too, publishers see in this year’s meeting a commitment to their contribution to scholarly communication, research, and teaching.”
Each year, the annual meeting focuses on fields of biblical scholarship and research, religious studies, and theology. Additionally, it serves as a networking hub for aspiring authors seeking an audience with publishers, who use the event for selling books, promoting titles for course adoption, and scouting new projects. Academic religion specialists enjoy deep discounts on books, browse the latest publications, and connect with colleagues. And all attendees can explore the exhibit hall’s large collections of books, as well as digital resources for biblical study.
AAR/SBL 2021 will feature more than 1,200 academic meetings and workshops, including online sessions such as “Gender, Sexuality, and the Bible” and “Pandemic Pedagogies: Conversations on Global Pedagogical Learnings in Light of Covid-19” (both on November 20). In-person sessions include “Recovering Female Interpreters of the Bible” (November 20) and “Violence and Representations of Violence in Antiquity” (November 21). However, the 2021 show is not fully hybrid—some sessions are held only in person and others are conducted strictly virtually—all during the same November 20–23 period. Recordings of the virtual sessions will remain available through January 2022.
At this point, it is not clear what type of event will be held in 2022, though next year’s annual meeting is slated for November 19–22 in Denver. “There are a lot of prognostications about the future of in-person academic conferences, but it is way too early to know,” Kutsko says. “Between both formats, the meeting is a rich program, and in the end, that is a result of our members’ commitment to the role biblical studies plays in higher education and society. SBL wants every member to experience two things the conference provides: opportunities for professional advancement and opportunities to create a community.”
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