Hell’s Plot: Performing Jesus, Popular Christianity, and the Cult of Fear

Gregory Jackson (Vice Chancellor, Undergraduate Academic Affairs; English)

Hell's PlotWhile this seminar will be fun—with lots of bone-chilling descriptions of the afterlife—it also seeks to help students better understand what faculty do at research institutions. Students will work in this professor’s discipline, in the field of American religion, examining different forms of religious cultural production, from the Puritan gravestone (we will spend some time in a churchyard reading 17th-Century gravestones), to a real Hell House, in which we will go on a tour led by a demon-guide to witness the consequences of sin.

We will read popular fiction, view documentaries, and learn about how these materials comprise a field of academic research. What can we learn about our world, about Americans’ views of life, death, and afterlife, about the role of religion in American politics and culture, and the influence of religion in our day-to-day lives?

Gregory JacksonGregory S. Jackson (Ph.D., UCLA) is Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of English and American Studies. He came to Rutgers in 2006 from the University of Arizona, where he had received several awards for scholarship and teaching including an ACLS and the Provost's Distinguished Teaching Award. At Rutgers, he has been awarded the Board of Trusteees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence and the Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence.