I live in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I research, write, and work as an adjunct for Piedmont Virginia Community College and the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea Program. I am currently seeking a tenure-track teaching position in religious studies.
My interests include American religious history, lived Catholicism, and theory and method in religious studies. I approach the study of religion through a combination of historical, sociological, and anthropological frameworks. I also have specialized training in religion and pedagogy and have written on the Constitutional and practical issues surrounding religion in the classroom.
I have published over a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles and am constantly taking on new research projects. My first book is based on my ethnographic research with the “real vampire community.” “Real vampires” believe they are fundamentally different from ordinary human beings and use the term “vampire” as a kind of cultural shorthand to describe this difference. While the media and “occult crime investigators” have descended on this group in recent years, I am interested in what real vampires can tell us about modernity, the social construction of identity, and how we apply the label “religion.” This book coincided with a cultural craze over the undead that peaked in 2008. It has earned me a lot of media attention as “a vampire scholar,” but this is not my primary research interest.
My next book will discuss Veronica Lueken (1923-1995), “the seer of Bayside,” and her movement’s relationship with the Catholic hierarchy. The Baysider movement is a fascinating chapter of American Catholicism that has not been adequately explored by historians. The history of this movement and its complex relationship with Church authority informs ongoing debates in religious studies about “lived religion,” new religion studies, and sociological models of the routinization of charisma and revitalization movements. This project is currently under contract with Oxford University Press.
I have written a third book about the moral panic over role-playing games during the 1980s. Claims about these games were sponsored by a coalition of religious groups and moral entrepreneurs that included Tipper Gore and the 700 Club. Concern over these games developed into a theological debate over whether the human imagination is inherently heretical. This book draws on Robert Bellah’s recent work on the origins of religion in “play” to analyze claims by evangelicals that role-playing games are not recreational but religious in nature. This project is currently undergoing peer-review with the University of California Press.
If you have any questions about the materials on this website or would like more information about my work, feel free to contact me at the link below.