It can be argued that Protestantism, as the dominant religious culture of the United States, developed in unique ways in relation to processes and practices of mediation across most of the late 19th and 20th centuries. This was a more complex history than a simple matter of production and circulation of religious media. The Protestant project of the colonial era aspired to cultural and moral centrality in the new nation, and its confrontation with those conditions and with modernity more generally involved complex negotiations with public culture and public articulation in later centuries. The Protestantism of this period (and indeed the religious culture of the nation more generally) was in part a result of its mediation, and Protestant publishing (and other means of communication) and Protestant modes of sensational evangelism lodged the movement deeply in emergent forms and practices of public media. Protestant moral culture also became deeply implicated in the way media came to be understood in domestic relations, with a bourgeois Protestant project at the center of the post-war domestic imaginary that conditioned those relations. This was expressed in a number of ways and contexts, not least in the evolution of standards of appropriate and inappropriate media: print, television, and film, but also in emergent practices of circulation. Stewart Hoover will present conceptual work in progress toward a fuller and more complex account of this history and these relations.
Stewart Hoover is a Professor in the Department of Media Studies and Professor Adjoint in the Department of Religious Studies and is Director of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture at the University of Colorado, Boulder. An internationally recognized expert on media and religion, his research ranges from legacy to digital media and across a wide range of practices and materialities in contemporary media cultures. He was founding president of the International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture, the professional association of this emerging academic field, and has directed numerous international conferences and seminars both in the U.S. and abroad. His books include The Media and Religious Authority (2016), Does God Make the Man? Media, Religion, and the Crisis of Masculinity (2015, with Curtis Coats), Media, Spiritualities and Social Change (2010, with Monica Emerich), Religion in the Media Age (2006), and Media, Home and Family (2003, with Lynn Clark and Diane Alters) and the forthcoming The Third Spaces of Digital Religion (with Nabil Echchaibi).