Course Syllabus

The major objection to the orthodox Marxist analysis of culture and religion is not that it is wrong, but that it is too narrow, rigid and dogmatic. It views popular culture and religion only as instruments of domination, vehicles of pacification. It sees only their negative and repressive elements … [and] refuses to acknowledge the positive, liberating aspects of popular culture and religion, and their potential for fostering structural social change.

Cornel West, Prophecy Deliverance!

Religion and Popular Culture in America, Third Edition by Bruce David Forbes, Jeffrey H. Mahan

In this course, we explore the interactions between religion and popular culture  within a modern mass-mediated culture. The constructions of popular culture (mass-market storytelling, sports, music, etc.) and the activity of the audience (fandom and other forms of participation) are examined as forms of meaning-making and cultural interpretation which may incorporate, challenge, change or replace traditional religion and its practices. One immediate example will be the ways that popular culture explores the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police and the resulting widespread national protests. 

                 Jeffrey Mahan

Contacting the Instructor: Emailing me at or messaging me through Canvas are the best way to reach me outside of class. I try to respond within 24 hours, though I don't usually respond over the weekend. I am happy to make an appointment to meet in Zoom, or by phone. JHM

Required Reading
Course outline
Assignments, Due Dates, and Grades

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Course Summary:

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