Watchful: Spiritual Exploration in the Age of Television

Date(s) - 04/27/2019
9:00 am - 1:45 pm

Northway Christian Church


Watchful: Spiritual Exploration in the Age of Television
Thirteenth Fay and Alfred Grosse Seminar on Religion and the Literary Arts
Saturday, April 27, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Kathryn Reklis, Assistant Professor of Modern Protestant Theology, Fordham University, New York, NY

Many people have argued that we are living in a golden age of television. Far from the brain-candy of early sitcoms or the repetition of procedural dramas, prestige television has been compared to the 19th century novel as the aesthetic genre of our age: probing human psychology and social realities with verve, depth, and intelligence. Increasingly, prestige television is turning to themes of religion, spirituality, and morality. Occasionally religious themes, traditions, and practices feature prominently and explicitly (as in shows like Big Love, Rectified, and The Leftovers). More often these themes function implicitly in the questions the shows ask about what makes us human, what we owe to one another, and how we can discern the moral and spiritual demands of life (as in shows like The Americans, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, or The Good Place). This seminar will explore a range of television shows from the early 2000s to the present, asking what we can learn about spiritual exploration in our own age, and what the genre of television allows us to see that other genres may not.

Kathryn Reklis is Professor of Modern Protestant Theology at Fordham University, where she teaches classes on the history and practice of Christianity in the modern age, Christianity and colonialism, theology and aesthetics, theology and popular culture, and digital religion. She is an affiliate faculty in the American Studies program and the Comparative Literature program at Fordham, where she works with students on projects that explore the intersection of religion, secularity, popular culture, and social justice. She is the author of the On Media column for The Christian Century, which won the Award of Excellence for a regular column from the Associated Church Press in 2017. In 2009, she co-founded the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice with artist AA Bronson at Union Theological Seminary which brought artists, seminarians, and theologians together to explore the work of social justice through the vocations of art and spiritual leadership in both New York and Berlin.