by Kathryn Reklis
Amidst concerns about the “decline of the liberal arts” and demands to make academic research and teaching more relevant to the real world are parallel prophesies of a “new academy” – one driven by new technologies of the digital age. Some greet the digital with eschatological hope, some with apocalyptic doom. Drawing on both her experiences using digital platforms in her scholarship and teaching, and her research studying the use of digital technologies by Christian communities, Kathryn Reklis will discuss the promises and challenges of new media in the academic study of religion.
Kathryn Reklis is Assistant Professor of Modern Protestant Theology at Fordham University in New York City. She holds a PhD in religious studies from Yale University, where she concentrated in historical and constructive Christian theology. Her first book, Theology and the Kinesthetic Imagination: Jonathan Edwards and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2014) explores the intersection of theology and performance studies to investigate the role of the body, desire, and beauty as sources for theological knowledge in the making of modernity. The project engages the colonial puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards and his writings about ecstatic bodily experience of the divine. Through this work she has fallen in love with the eighteenth century and the invention of global gossip culture made possible by a great communications revolution in daily newspapers and widespread pamphlets.
Her love of old "new media" feeds her fascination with our own communications revolution, from blog culture to social networking. She is the co-founder of The Moth Chase, a blog on pop culture, gender, religion, and other big questions of life; an erstwhile contributor to the Imminent Frame; and a regular contributor to the "On Media" column at The Christian Century. As an avid user, consumer, and student of new media, she is always trying to figure out how these forms of communication shape our search for community, authenticity, and meaning.
Before joining the tenure-track faculty at Fordham, she served as Director of Theological Initiatives and Senior Adviser to the President at Union Theological Seminary in New York City from 2008-2011, which taught her more than she bargained for about the nuts and bolts of higher education, but also reaffirmed her commitment to serving in a university context. She continues to serve as Co-Director of the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, which she co-founded in 2009 with artist AA Bronson.
17th–22nd June 2014