Barry Stephenson's homepage

I am an assistant professor in the Religious Studies Department at Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland. My research deals with the interactions of religion and culture in the modern west, especially the interplay between Christian thought and practice and the arts (literature, film, visual & material culture, ritual, performance, theatre). In the wake of 9/11, I have also been concerned to better understand the role of religion in generating, exacerbating or mitigating violent conflict, and in the articulation of Christian thought in currents of contemporary continental philosophy. My approach to the study of religion is eclectic and interdisciplinary, drawing on contributions from the fields of intellectual and cultural history, literary criticism, ritual and performance studies, and the anthropology of religion. 

Areas of Research & Teaching

  • Christian Thought & History
  • Ritual Studies
  • Religion and the Arts
  • Religion, Modernity, and the Post-secular
  • Anthropology of Religion

Academic Background

M.A. Wilfrid Laurier University
Ph.D. University of Calgary

I was awarded a SSHRC doctoral fellowship for study at the University of Calgary, where I completed my Ph.D., in 2005. In the spring of 2005, I received a SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship to study Reformation-themed festivals and religious travel in Wittenberg, Germany, and migrated back to Wilfrid Laurier University (where I earned my M.A. degree). I spent several years at Laurier, teaching a range of courses in the Religion and Culture Department, and also at Renison College and the University of Toronto. Out of my doctoral and post-doctoral research grew two books: Veneration and Revolt: Hermann Hesse and Swabian Pietism (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009) and Performing the Reformation: Public Ritual in the City of Luther (Oxford, 2010). I have delivered papers and lectures at several universities and conferences in North America and Europe, and have published numerous articles and book chapters. In 2009-2011, I was a contributing member of a research project titled Ritual, Media and Conflict, hosted by the Faculty of Religious Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands and the Ritual Dynamics Collaborative Research Center at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. I was previously the co-chair of the Ritual Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion. I am presently putting the finishing touches on Ritual: A Very Short Introduction, a new volume in the handy series published by Oxford. For information on new research, click on Research. Current courses can be found under Teaching.