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The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History$
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Paul Harvey and Edward Blum

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231140201

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231140201.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Religion and Popular Culture

Religion and Popular Culture

(p.295) 15. Religion and Popular Culture
The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History

Philip Goff

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between religion and popular culture in America. More specifically, it considers how various schools of thought direct their inquiries at popular culture and how, in recent years, those who study religion in America have seized on those models to help us better understand the nature of American religious life. For much of the twentieth century, popular culture was understood to be anything between high culture and folk culture. While nearly all the terms are debatable, specialists generally regarded high culture as unique, difficult to create, and highly individual. The creations of elite culture aspire to break the boundaries of tradition, challenge common beliefs, and validate the experience of the individual. Its formation is an aesthetic act; that is, it seeks truth and beauty. Generally, there are three ways scholars approach the study of popular culture: textual analysis, audience analysis, and production analysis. This chapter also discusses typologies of religion and popular culture and concludes by assessing popular religion and religious culture in American history.

Keywords:   religion, popular culture, religious life, high culture, folk culture, textual analysis, audience analysis, production analysis, religious culture, popular religion

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