Sean McCloud (Ph.D., UNC Chapel Hill) is a professor of religious studies who teaches, researches, and writes about American religions and religion and culture. He is the author of Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives, and Journalists, 1955-93 (2004), Divine Hierarchies: Class in American Religion and Religious Studies (2007), American Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States (2015), and co-editor of Religion and Class in America: Culture, History, and Politics (2009).
Research and Teaching Interests
My approach to studying religion is multidisciplinary and my research and teaching interests focus on the primary materials of American religions, the cultural history of the study of religion in the United States, and theories and methods for the study of religions. Three broad questions drive my work. First, I am interested in examining how religion in different contexts creates, maintains, or tears down boundaries and identities. Second, I am interested in how religion both enables and constrains our conceptions of the world. Third, I am fascinated by how religion itself is defined—by academics, journalists, and practitioners—and how such definitions work in social and cultural arenas to “mark” the status of different individuals and groups.
American Possessions: Fighting Demons in the Contemporary United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
“Mapping the Spatial Limbos of Spiritual Warfare: Haunted Houses, Defiled Land, and the Horrors of History.” Forthcoming in Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief, Summer 2013.
“The Possibilities of Change in a World of Constraint: Individual and Social Transformation in the Work of Pierre Bourdieu.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion (41:1) February 2012: 2-8.
“Economics.” In The Encyclopedia of Religion in America, edited by Charles Lippy and Peter Williams. D.C.:CQ Press, 2010.
“New and Homegrown Religions.” In The Blackwell Companion to Religion in America, edited by Philip Goff. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 636-648.
Religion and Class in America: Culture, History, and Politics. Co-edited with William Mirola. Boston: Brill, 2009.
“Putting Some Class into Religious Studies: Resurrecting an Important Concept.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75:4 (Dec. 2007): 840-862.
Divine Hierarchies: Class in American Religion and Religious Studies. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
“Liminal Subjectivities and Religious Change: Circumscribing Giddens for the Study of Contemporary American Religion.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 22:3 (Oct. 2007): 295-309.
Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives, and Journalists, 1955-1993. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
“Popular Culture Fandoms, the Boundaries of Religious Studies, and the Project of the Self.” Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 4:2 (Nov. 2003): 187-206.