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Religion and Popular Culture Unit

Call for Proposals

Everything is Bigger in Texas: In recognition of our meeting's location in San Antonio, we invite papers and pre-arranged panels addressing the complex popular cultures and politics of Texas. From reproductive rights to guns to textbooks, the state can be understood as a bellwether of white Christian conservativism nation-wide. But this isn't the whole story. Seeing national politics from the vantage of Texas also brings into view Latin/x popular religious cultures, borderlands, and the Asian immigrant communities across the state.


Bodies and the State: In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and in light of its over-turning and threats to the availability of contraceptives and trans healthcare, we invite papers and pre-arranged panels addressing the intersections of bodies, popular culture and governance. How do popular cultures serve as sites for the exploration of bodies, their religious meanings, and their regulation by the state?


The Exorcist at 50: We invite pre-arranged panels or papers that mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark film The Exorcist, in conversation with other entries within its franchise, and/or other popular culture related to possession.


Transnational Circulations of Religion and Popular Culture: How do religious communities that overflow national borders utilize popular culture to inform doctrine, practice, or communal identity? How do pop culture objects contribute to and complicate the globalization of religion or global imaginations of religion? We are especially interested in papers that examine pop culture representations of transnational or diasporic religious communities, pop culture and religious tourism/pilgrimage, or cultural knowledge as a collective process.  


Open Call. We welcome any and all proposals that are not specifically mentioned in the call for papers and we are specifically interested in topics and theoretical insights from outside North America.


Calls for Possible Co-Sponsored Panels:


  • Co-Sponsored with Disability Studies Unit: Representations of disability experiences and religion in popular media. We are especially interested in examinations of how the religious backgrounds, commitments, or influences on persons with disabilities have been represented in recent popular media, be it television, film, literature, graphic novels, etc. How are persons with disabilities shown to be active or constructive participants in religious reflection or practice in ways that challenge ableist norms and assumptions? Alternatively, how might popular media offer timely correctives or challenges to current religious thought and practice surrounding disability?


  • Co-Sponsored with Native Traditions in the Americas Unit: We invite papers on the role of Indigenous religious and spiritual traditions within popular works by contemporary Native American and First Nations creators. How have religious and spiritual traditions oriented or emerged within recent creative works (i.e. films such as Blood Quantum, music by artists such as Crown Lands, streaming series such as Reservation Dogs, or other forms such as comic books, novels, or video games? How have these works mobilized, or chafed against, the conventions of popular genres? 



Statement of Purpose

This Unit is dedicated to the scholarly exploration of religious expression in a variety of cultural settings. We encourage a multidisciplinary display of scholarship in our sessions and are committed to taking popular culture seriously as an arena of religious and theological reflection and practice.


  • Eden Consenstein, Princeton University
    1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
  • David Feltmate, Auburn University, Montgomery
    1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026

Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members