Department of Theology
Rose Hill Campus
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458
Email: [email protected]
Kathryn Reklis came to Fordham in 2012 after earning her PhD from Yale University, with prior degrees from Yale Divinity School, and undergraduate study in English Literature, creative writing, and documentary photography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She currently serves as the Co-Director of the Comparative Literature program at Fordham and is an Affiliate Faculty in American Studies. Blending methods from cultural history, critical theory, and literary study, she is interested in the conditions of possibility that make theological belief and practice possible at any given moment. This means that she examines the historical context, material conditions, intellectual histories, personal relationships, affective states, and networks of exchange and power that contribute to different ways of being Christian at different times and places. Her work is focused on modern Protestant Christian history (18th-20th century) in the colonial context, but she is also interested in what theology does in the world today and how it does it. In particular, most of her research projects explore different ways Christian theologians and ordinary Christians appeal to beauty, art, and embodied experience as an alternative to the aridity and rationalism they perceive in modernity and also to interrogating how those appeals situate Christian theology among supposedly secular modes of knowing and being.
Her first book-length project, Theology and the Kinesthetic Imagination: Jonathan Edwards and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2014), examines Jonathan Edwards’s contribution to the public debates around the ecstatic and excessive bodily performances of 18th century religious revivals as a way of tracing an alternative modern subjectivity to the one being forged in the confluence of early global capitalism and early Enlightenment rationalism. Situating Edwards in conversation with discourses about the making of modernity in the 18th century also relocates North American Reformed theology in its circum-Atlantic context, a context that describes the exchange of goods and ideas in circulation from Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas that created the material conditions for modernity.
She is currently working on two interconnected projects on the relationship between religion and literature. The first is a cultural and theological history of Religion and Literature programs formed in the mid-20th century. She explores both what these concrete programs teach us about how theology was conceived in relationship to the formation of humanities curricula and liberal arts education and how a “literary mode” of studying religion informs present debates about what experiences are knowable and worth knowing. The second seeks to answer the question “Is the ‘world’ in ‘World Literature’ the same as the ‘world’ in ‘World Religion’” and explores the possibilities and limits of thinking “the world” at the brink of the planet.
At Fordham, she teaches courses on modern Christian history, colonialism and empire, aesthetics and modernity, digital religion, and American Evangelicalism. She has regularly taught the American Studies Senior Seminar and advises undergraduates in Theology, Comparative Literature, and American Studies.
From 2018-2020 she served as the principal investigator for a grant on Shaker Art, Design, and Religion (funded by the Henry Luce Foundation) in partnership with the Shaker Museum New Lebanon which brought together academics from religious studies and art history with practicing artists and museum professionals to explore Shaker legacy and public memory. From 2010-2017 she was a Research Fellow for the New Media Project at the Christian Theological Seminary, where she wrote regularly on theology, religious practice, and new media use and with whom she orchestrated a teaching program on new media and theology at Fordham. She was the Co-Director of the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice, which she co-founded in 2009 with artist AA Bronson. And she is the Screentime columnist and a Contributing Editor for The Christian Century. She is an avid TV watcher and a PTA mom who lives in Astoria, Queens with her spouse and children.
PhD, Religious Studies (Theology), Yale University (2012) with distinction
MAR, Historical Theology, Yale Divinity School (2004), summa cum laude
BA, English/Creative Writing, University of North Carolina (2001), summa cum laude
Modern Protestant theology (18th century to the present)
Religion and Literature
Theology, religious practice, and popular culture
Protestant Aesthetics and the Arts, co-edited with Sarah Covington (Routledge Press, 2020).
“Imagination and Hermeneutics,” Oxford Handbook on Jonathan Edwards, edited by Douglas Sweeney and Jan Stievermann, New York: Oxford University Press, 2021
“Can Theology Be Postsecular? Aesthetics and Non-Triumphalist Theology,” The Journal of Religion, Vol. 98, Issue 3, July 2018, pp.371-397
“Aesthetics of the ‘Made’: Exuberant Authenticity in the Work of Wes Anderson,” Dreams, Doubt, and Dread: the Spiritual in Film. Edited by Taylor Worley and Zac Settle (Cascade Books, 2016).
Theology and the Kinesthetic Imagination: Jonathan Edwards and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2014)
“Reflections on Art and Sensory Contention at a Christian Seminary,: Sensational Religion: Sense and Contention in Material Practice. Edited by Sally Promey, Yale University Press (2014).
“Heroism in the Age of Terror: the Dark Knight of the American Soul,” Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul. Edited by David P. Gushee, J. Drew Zimmer, and Jillian Hickman Zimmer. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2010.
“A Sense of the Tragic in a Christian Theology of Freedom,” Theological Studies, Mar 2009, Vol. 70 Issue 1, p 37-60.
Screentime Column, The Christian Century (ongoing monthly column on television, film, and other screened pursuits)