Kathryn Lofton PBK Lecture Recording Now Available!

Were you unable to make it to Kathryn Lofton’s lecture “Celebrity, Politics, Power” earlier this semester? You can now watch the recording at the following link:

Kathryn Lofton: Celebrity, Politics, Power Lecture Recording

On March 23, 2023, the Religious Studies Program welcomed Dr. Kathryn Lofton, currently the Lex Hixon Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies and Professor of History and Divinity at Yale University, for 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. This event was sponsored by the UW-Madison Religious Studies Program and Phi Beta Kappa.

Dr. Lofton’s talk, “Celebrity, Politics, Power” 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.