My research revolves around three topics: religion, literature, and neoliberal capitalism. In the past, I have studied the way religion and ecstatic religious experience is represented in American fiction during the 20th and 21st centuries. More recently, I have turned to the way people use religion to market products and celebrities. I have published articles on authors like James Baldwin and Don DeLillo as well as an article on Katy Perry and Megan Fox.

My current project examines the way publishers use the labels occult, New Age, and spirituality to market books. I am particularly interested in how this marketing moved public perception of alternative spirituality from a dangerous counter-cultural practice that resisted material and economic concerns to a sanitized resource that can help everyone improve themselves and reach their material and economic goals. In other words, I argue that publishers created and promoted a neoliberal conception of spirituality. By extension, I am interested and concerned about the way neoliberal capitalism affects the way we interact with each other, not just on a professional level, but also a personal level.

Do You Believe in Science? Science, Politics, and Belief

“I don’t believe it.” That was Donald Trump’s response to a report on climate change prepared by more than 300 leading climate scientists. Trump is hardly the only person in the contemporary world to reject scientific findings. People dismiss evolution, the health benefits of vaccines, even that the earth is a sphere. This rejection of science can seem perplexing, especially for those who understand the rigorous process of producing scientific knowledge and theories. So why is it that some people simply do not believe in science?
This course looks at the ways scholars from various departments seek to answer that question. Some of the scholars develop wide ranging theories about why people believe what they believe. Others focus on specific people and the complexity of their belief systems. Some scholars even raise their own doubts about science and scientific methods. The differences in the approaches each scholar takes to this question sometimes relates to the discipline they are from. These scholars come from Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy, and English departments. Each of these disciplines has its own methods and conventions. In other words, a particular discipline influences what scholars ask questions about, how they phrase the questions, how they answer the questions, and how they present their findings. As a result, this course will not only introduce you to the academic study of science, politics, and belief. It will also introduce you to the various disciplinary approaches to research and writing.