1st Edition

Speculative Television and the Doing and Undoing of Religion

By Gregory Erickson Copyright 2023
    288 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the concept that, as participation in traditional religion declines, the complex and fantastical worlds of speculative television have become the place where theological questions and issues are negotiated, understood, and formed.

    From bodies, robots, and souls to purgatories and post-apocalyptic scenarios and new forms of digital scripture, the shows examined – from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Westworld – invite their viewers and fans to engage with and imagine concepts traditionally reserved for religious spaces. Informed by recent trends in both fan studies and religious studies, and with an emphasis on practice as well as belief, the thematically focused narrative posits that it is through the intersections of these shows that we find the reframing and rethinking of religious ideas.

    This truly interdisciplinary work will resonate with scholars and upper-level students in the areas of religion, television studies, popular culture, fan studies, media studies, and philosophy.

    Alternative Table of Contents

    List of Images



    Introduction: Television’s Religious Imaginations

    Part I: Beyond Human

    1. Aliens: Science Fiction and Otherworldly Religions

    2. Vampires: The Undead Challenge to Religion

    3. Zombies: Alternative Resurrections
    With a Contribution by Rachel Sowers

    Part II: Beyond Borders

    4. Ghosts and Bodies: Borders of the Real

    5. Cyborgs and Androids: Borders of the Soul

    6. Gods and Monsters: Borders of the Knowable

    Part III: Beyond Time

    7. The Material Past: Books, Libraries, and Scripture
    With a Contribution by Colleigh Stein

    8. The Digital Present: Fans, Participatory Culture, and Virtual Congregations
    With Cathryn Piwinski and Colleigh Stein

    9. The Future Nothing: Believing in the Impossible or the Impossibility of Belief

    10. Endings and Re-enchanted Time: What Comes After
    With a Contribution by Colleigh Stein



    Gregory Erickson is professor at The Gallatin School of New York University, USA.