Kathryn Lofton is Lex Hixon Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies and Professor of History and Divinity at Yale University. She currently serves as Dean of Humanities. Lofton has written extensively about religion, capitalism, celebrity, sexuality, and the concept of the secular. Her first book, Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon, uses the example of Oprah Winfrey’s multimedia productions to evaluate the material strategies of contemporary spirituality. Her second book, Consuming Religion, offers a profile of religion and its relationship to consumption through a series of case studies. Lofton is also a 2022-2023 ΦBK Visiting Scholar.
In late September, the ΦBK chapter at Albion College hosted Lofton for two days, where she participated in two classes: Religion and Nonviolence, and Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality; had informal discussions over lunch and dinner with students and faculty; and gave a public lecture titled “How to Build an American Religion.”
“Dr. Lofton’s visit to Albion was a wonderful way for students to get to meet and interact with a top scholar in the field,” said Abigail Cahill, associate professor of biology and president of Albion’s ΦBK chapter. “Her talk was attended by students, staff, faculty, and city community members, and was enthralling from beginning to end. I hope that everyone she spoke with, during her classroom visits, lecture, and casual interactions, thinks a little bit differently about religion in the United States after her visit.”
“The students I met at Albion were inspired,” Lofton said. “I visited a class where they discussed Tolstoy on nonviolence and another where they examined the social construction of gender using the Kardashians. The conversations were so vital I have returned to them repeatedly, so glad I had the opportunity to learn with them.”
Lofton’s other visits this year as a ΦBK Visiting Scholar include University of Tulsa, Louisiana State University, Colorado College, Indiana University, University of Missouri, Colgate University, University of Wisconsin, Illinois College, Marietta College, and University of California Santa Barbara.
Learn more about the Visiting Scholars Program at pbk.org/VisitingScholars. The 2023-2024 ΦBK Visiting Scholars will be announced in February 2023.