The Experiential Elephant and the Pursuit of Interdisciplinarity


  • K. Merinda Simmons University of Alabama



Ann Taves, interdisciplinarity, religious experience


Critiques of Religious Experience Reconsidered by Ann Taves have primarily focused on the book's tether to a category of "specialness," seen by some as its own problematic metaphysical pursuit. My own response will take up the issue that Taves suggests is one of her central aims; namely, that of interdisciplinary discourse. While many scholars find that pursuit a natural and necessary one, bringing voices into conversation around a single and stable object of discourse, I suggest that the implications of this notion are more complicated than often supposed.

Author Biography

  • K. Merinda Simmons, University of Alabama

    K. Merinda Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. Areas of research and teaching include theories of gender and race, Southern Studies, and literary theory.


Day, Matthew. 2010. “Magic Feathers, Wittgensteinian Boxes and the Politics of Deeming.” Religion. 40: 293–95. doi: 10.1016/j.religion.2010.09.004. Available at

Fitzgerald, Timothy. 2010. “‘Experiences Deemed Religious’: Radical Critique or Temporary Fix? Strategic Ambiguity in Ann Taves’ Religious Experience Reconsidered.” 2010. Religion. 40: 296–99. doi: 10.1016/j.religion.2010.09.005. Available at

McCutcheon, Russell. 2010. “Will Your Cognitive Anchor Hold in the Storms of Culture?” 2010. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 78: 1182–193.

Spickard, James. 2010. “Does Taves Reconsider Experience Enough? A Critical Commentary on Religious Experience Reconsidered. 2010. Religion. 40: 311–13. doi: 10.1016/j.religion.2010.09.009. Available at

Taves, Ann. 2009. Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things. Princeton: Princeton University Press.






How to Cite

Simmons, K. M. (2012). The Experiential Elephant and the Pursuit of Interdisciplinarity. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 41(3), 2-6.