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McRae combines writing projects during sabbatical year
Friday, October 07, 2016

McRae combines writing projects during sabbatical year

Dr. Shannon McRae

Dr. Shannon McRae from the Department of English will spend her sabbatical year completing “Manufactured Mythologies,” a book on Jazz Age spiritual tourism and small-town attractions she researched during her previous sabbatical. She will also be writing two chapters of “Fallen Angel,” a book on cocktail culture and religion currently in progress in collaboration with a colleague from another institution.

Both writing projects investigate, from different angles, intersections between religion and popular culture in early 20th-century America. Both aim to complicate a prevalent scholarly and popular narrative that characterizes the American spiritual tradition as primarily one of Anglo-protestant evangelicalism. Through examining tourist sites and cocktails, two different artifacts of early 20th century popular culture, both demonstrate the longevity, prevalence, and cultural importance of spiritual and religious culture that this narrative of mainstreaming wrongly consigns to the fringes. In formulating this argument, Dr. McRae engages with contemporary religious and cultural historians, differing with them with a focus on the interplay of religious and popular cultural currents during a period largely considered to be characterized by a move toward secularization.

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