The Religious Studies Program is excited to welcome Dr. Kathryn Lofton, currently the Lex Hixon Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies and Professor of History and Divinity at Yale University to campus this March to deliver the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars Lecture. Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest academic honors society in the United States, founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776. The University of Wisconsin has had its own PBK chapter since 1899 and typically bestows this nationally-recognized honor on approximately 150 of the highest achieving undergraduates every year. For more information on the Alpha of Wisconsin chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, visit https://pbk.wisc.edu.
Dr. Lofton will deliver the lecture “Celebrity, Politics, Power” on Thursday, March 23, 2023. This event is sponsored by the UW-Madison Religious Studies Program and Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Lofton’s talk uses celebrity to think about political power, applying the lens of Religious Studies to celebrity narratives in popular culture. It explains how any analysts of American politics need to understand, among many other politically consequential facts, what Kanye West is saying and why Madison Cawthorn’s marriage matters. Thinking about celebrity allows us to consider how individuals may deploy their stories to purposes bigger than mere ratings, how popularity is a resource to be molded as much as it is chased. Popularity can alter the social situation where it transpires; studying celebrity culture can help us to see how the world may be influenced within and beyond elections.
Dr. Lofton’s lecture will take place at 5:30PM on March 23, 2023 at the DeLuca Forum in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (330 N Orchard St, Madison, WI 53715). To download the event poster as a PDF, click the link: Lofton Event Poster – 2023 PBK Lecture.