Religion and Popular Culture
This course explores the variety of imbricated relationships between religion and American popular culture within the United States. While this course is not historical in nature, the material we will engage spans the broader history of the US dating back to the middle of the 19th Century. Instead, this course assumes a Cultural Studies approach within the larger academic study of religion and popular culture. This means that we will be investigating how the meaning of terms like “popular” and “culture” have changed over time in both their content and scholarly usage. The study of religion resembles the study of popular culture in this regard because as scholars of religion we are uniquely equipped to both name and categorize human behavior, or data, as “religion.” As such, this course foregrounds a diverse collection of readings that explores sport, film, celebrity, consumption, and television as themes and subjects. It also emphasizes the “how” of our field, meaning the methods and approaches we use to understand our subjects. How we define our terms is a reflection of how we understand what we do as scholars and academics.