Date of Award
Religious and Theological Studies
Jeffrey H. Mahan
Lynn Schofield Clark
Jennifer S. Leath
Imagined community, Intersectionality, Performance, Popular culture, Temporality, World-making
This dissertation argues that religious world-making in popular culture can reveal and resist hegemonic times. Taking as my primary case study the United States in the 2010s, particularly the shift from the Obama to the Trump era, I analyze cultural constructions of time—as sacred history, destiny, and “the times”—that reflect and shape national identity and belonging in the American imagined community. In this context, such temporal constructions have privileged whiteness and heteronormative masculinity, positioning those who embody or approximate this norm as “of the times,” while also displacing BIPOC, women, and queer people as “out of time.” I posit time as a material and mediated aspect of culture performed by bodies in normative and non-normative ways. Such temporal performativity, I argue, can reify hegemonic norms, but it can also expose and disrupt the constructed nature of these norms in acts of liberative resistance.
My project places theories of religion, media, and culture in critical conversation with an analysis of particular examples of larger trends within the popular culture of and about American times in the 2010s. I examine the performative anachronism of time travel narratives (in Timeless, Outlander, and Doctor Who), the re-presenting of past onscreen or onstage worlds through revivals and reincarnations (in Roseanne/The Conners and Star Wars), and history as improvisational memory performance (in Hamilton: An American Musical).
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Johnston Aelabouni, Meghan, "Out of Time: Temporal Performativity and Resistance in Popular American Film, Television, and Theater" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1950.
Received from ProQuest
Meghan Johnston Aelabouni
Religion, Communication, American studies