Sean McCloud (Ph.D., UNC Chapel Hill) is a professor of religious studies who teaches, researches, and writes about American religions and religion and culture. He is the author of Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives, and Journalists, 1955-93 (2004), Divine Hierarchies: Class in American Religion and Religious Studies (2007), American Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States (2015), and co-editor of Religion and Class in America: Culture, History, and Politics (2009).
Research and Teaching Interests
My approach to studying religion is multidisciplinary and my research and teaching interests focus on the primary materials of American religions, the cultural history of the study of religion in the United States, social theory, and theories and methods for the study of religions. Three broad questions drive my work. First, I am interested in examining how religion in different contexts creates, maintains, or tears down boundaries and identities. Second, I am interested in how religion both enables and constrains our conceptions of the world. Third, I am fascinated by how religion itself is defined—by academics, journalists, and practitioners—and how such definitions work in social and cultural arenas to “mark” the status of different individuals and groups.
“Class, Religion, and Music: Concepts and Questions.” In The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music and Social Class, edited by Ian Peddie. London: Bloomsbury. Forthcoming 2020.
“Everything Blended: Engaging Combinations, Appropriations, Bricolage, and Syncretisms in Our Teaching and Research.” Implicit Religion. 21:4 (2018). 362-382.
“Conjuring Spirits in a Neoliberal Era: Ghost Reality Television, Third Wave Spiritual Warfare, and Haunting Pasts.” In Religion and Reality TV: Faith in Late Capitalism, edited by Mara Einstein and Diane Winston. New York: Routledge, 2018. 137-149.
“Religions are Belief Systems.” In Stereotyping Religion: Critiquing Clichés, edited by Craig Martin and Brad Stoddard. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. 11-22.
“Blessing the Rich, Damning the Poor, and Forgetting the Social: Divine Apologetics for Class Inequality and the Study of Religion in a Neoliberal Age.” In Religion, Equalities, and Inequalities, edited by Dawn Llewellyn and Sonya Sharma. New York: Routledge, 2016. 15-25.
“Class as a Force of Habit: The Social World Embodied in Scholarship.” In Working in Class: Recognizing How Social Class Shapes Our Academic Work, edited by Alison L. Hurst and Sandi Kawecka Nenga. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016. 13-22.
American Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
“Mapping the Spatial Limbos of Spiritual Warfare: Haunted Houses, Defiled Land, and Horrors of History.” Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief 9:2 (June 2013): 166-185.
“The Possibilities of Change in a World of Constraint: Individual and Social Transformation in the Work of Pierre Bourdieu.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 41:1 (February 2012): 2-8.
Religion and Class in America: Culture, History, and Politics. Co-edited with William Mirola. Boston: Brill, 2009.
“Putting Some Class into Religious Studies: Resurrecting an Important Concept.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75:4 (Dec. 2007): 840-862.
Divine Hierarchies: Class in American Religion and Religious Studies. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
“Liminal Subjectivities and Religious Change: Circumscribing Giddens for the Study of Contemporary American Religion.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 22:3 (Oct. 2007): 295-309.
Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives, and Journalists, 1955-1993. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
“Popular Culture Fandoms, the Boundaries of Religious Studies, and the Project of the Self.” Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 4:2 (Nov. 2003): 187-206.
Recent Undergraduate and Graduate Courses
Religion in the Contemporary United States
Approaches to the Academic Study of Religions
Religion and Popular Culture
Conversion, Deconversion, and Change
Religion and American Culture
What is Identity?
The Supernatural and American Culture