Kathryn Lofton is a professor of religious studies and history at Yale University. Her book Consuming Religion (University of Chicago Press, 2017) offers a collection of eleven essays of cultural critique that reflect on the connections between religion, consumer culture, celebrity and the corporation. Her definition of religion is capacious and founded on Durkheim's understanding of it as a form of social organization that determines who we are. In contemporary culture religion is an attempt to mass-produce relations of value and generate both control and freedom. Applying this definition to popular culture, she examines binge watching, the cubicle of the Action Office of Herman Miller, Purity Balls, Hotel Preston's innovation in the Spiritual Menu offerings, and the fascination with the Kardashians. In an ethnographic study of the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, she demonstrates how the idea of corporate culture becomes a form of religion. Lofton challenges us to see religion everywhere in our construction of meaning and values.
This episode of New Books in American Studies was produced in cooperation with the Society for U.S. Intellectual History.
Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is tentatively entitled The World Come of Age: Religion, Intellectuals and the Challenge of Human Liberation is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
Lilian Calles Barger is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her most recent book is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology (Oxford University Press, 2018). Her current writing project is on the intellectual history of women and the origins of feminism seen through the emblematic life and work of Simone de Beauvoir.