Dr. Kristen Tobey, Assistant Professor of Religion and the Social Sciences at John Carroll, and Dr. Brian Collins, Associate Professor of World Religions and the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University, recently published an exploration of how scholars of religion are portrayed in popular culture in the journal Religious Studies Review
. Additionally, they presented a version of their research in Sightings
-- the online journal of the University of Chicago Divinity School (where they both earned PhDs).
What does popular culture tell us about who studies religion? Given that popular representations are more likely to shape public perceptions of the field than either direct experience in the classroom or statistics about graduation rates and job placement, we should try to understand what these representations are and how they function. ... For popular cultural depictions of the study of religion are not particularly complex. Nor, upon analysis, are they particularly flattering.