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.
I am excited about the Authority and Resistance course because I think resistance is both important and complex.
- What kinds of resistance are most effective?
- What is the difference between resisting an oppressive leader and an oppressive system?
- When is violence justified?
- How is the rhetoric of resistance used to strengthen a dominant system of power?
- What happens when resistance becomes a commodity to be marketed and sold?
- The texts we will be studying this year will help us explore these questions.
I recently taught a course on ethics and literature at Trinity College at the University of Toronto. Here is part of a lecture from that course on neoliberalism, celebrities, dating aps, and Universities.