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Kathryn Reklis

Kathryn Reklis

Associate Professor

General Information

Department of Theology
Rose Hill Campus
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458

Email: kreklis@fordham.edu

Biography

A Minnesotan by birth, but a Tar Heel at heart, Dr. Reklis attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar (now Morehead-Cain Scholar), earning a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. This course of study, coupled with extracurricular work as a documentary photographer and director of an international student aid non-profit, inspired a love for the stories that bind peoples lives together and a passion to render those stories, and the circumstances that give them life, with attention to detail and care for the ordinary, which she later brought to the study of religion and theology at Yale University. She came to Fordham after spending three years (while she was also finishing her doctorate) as Director of Theological Initiatives and Senior Advisor to the President at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, which taught her more than she bargained for about the nuts and bolts of higher education, but also reaffirmed her commitment to serving in a university context. She is an avid TV watcher and is always happy to take and share suggestions on what is worth watching next. She lives in Astoria, Queens, with her husband, an English professor, their train-loving son and toddler daughter.

Education

PhD, Religious Studies (Theology), Yale University (2012)

MAR, Historical Theology, Yale Divinity School (2004)

BA, English/Creative Writing, University of North Carolina (2001)

Research Interests

  • Modern Protestant theology (18th century to the present)
  • Colonialism/decolonialism
  • Aesthetics
  • Cultural criticism
  • Religion/theology in the digital age
  • Theology, religious practice, and popular culture

Dr. Reklis 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 in modern Protestant Christian history (18th-20th century), 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.

A second project building on the first explores how and why Protestant theologians in late modernity (20th century to the present) turn to aesthetics (beauty), bodily experience, and desire (erotics) as a means of reviving theological discourse, or saving (mostly academic) theology from its own uneasy collusion with the projects of modernity. She is currently working on 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.

She also serves 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 explores how Shaker legacy is understood across disciplinary boundaries (e.g. art history and religious history) and institutional location (e.g. universities, museums, and contemporary art practice).

From 2010-2017 she was a Research Fellow for the New Media Project at the Christian Theological Seminary, where she blogged 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 On Media columnist and a Contributing Editor for The Christian Century.

Publications

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 (forthcoming fall 2020)

“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).

The Choreography of Feminist Theology, Reflections, Spring 2011, Vol. 98 Number 1, p 38-41.

Heroism in the Age of Terror: the Dark Knight of the American Soul in 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.