Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Jeffrey H. Mahan

Second Advisor

Lynn Schofield Clark

Third Advisor

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).

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Meghan Johnston Aelabouni


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

316 pgs


Religion, Communication, American studies