Molly Bassett and Applied Religious Studies at Georgia State University


  • Richard Newton University of Alabama



religious studies, applied religious studies, Georgia state university, religious literacy


With the current pandemic, the intersection of religion and health has garnered renewed attention as it potentially impacts not only what we study, but also how and where we do our work. In this edition of The Interview, Bulletin editor Richard Newton spoke with Molly Bassett, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. Beyond her longstanding reseach interest in myth and bodies in Mesoamerican cultural history, Bassett’s department has pioneered an “Applied Religious Studies”approach to public health at the undergraduate and graduate level. Newton and Bassett discuss the story behind these efforts and the lessons they present for scholars in this moment.

Author Biography

Richard Newton, University of Alabama

Richard Newton received his PhD in Critical Comparative Scriptures from Claremont Graduate University.

Dr. Newton’s areas of interest include theory and method in the study of religion, African American history, the New Testament in Western imagination, American cultural politics, and pedagogy in religious studies. His research explores how people create “scriptures” and how those productions operate in the formation of identities and cultural boundaries. He has published an array of journal articles, book chapters and online essays. His book, Identifying Roots: Alex Haley and the Anthropology of Scriptures (Equinox 2020), casts Alex Haley’s Roots as a case study in the dynamics of scriptures and identity politics with critical implication for the study of race, religion, and media. He is also the curator of the  multimedia professional development network, Sowing the Seed: Fruitful Conversations in Religion, Culture, and Teaching.


American Academy of Religion. 2015. “Teagle Study: The Religion Major and Liberal Education.”

Bassett, Molly H. 2015. The Fate of Earthly Things: Aztec Gods and God-Bodies. Austin: University of Texas Press.

De la Cadena, Marisol. 2015. Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds. Duke University Press. DOI:

Townsend, Camilla. 2003. ”Burying the White Gods: New Perspectives on the Conquest of Mexico." American Historical Review 108 (3) 659–87. DOI:

Webster, Jane S., James J. Buckley, Tim Jensen, and Stacey Floyd-Thomas. 2011. “Responses to the AAR-Teagle White Paper: ‘The Religious Studies Major in a Post-9-11 World.’” Teaching Theology & Religion 14 (1) 34–71. DOI:



How to Cite

Newton, R. (2021). Molly Bassett and Applied Religious Studies at Georgia State University. Bulletin for the Study of Religion, 49(3-4), 3–10.



The Interview