Faculty & Staff
Kelly J. Baker
501 McClung Tower
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-0450
See Also: Curriculum Vitae
Kelly J. Baker received her B.A. from Florida State University in American and Florida Studies (2002), and her M.A. from Florida State University in Religion (2003), specifically American Religious History. Her Ph.D. (2008) is in the same field with emphasis on religious intolerance, religious nationalism, material religion, and religion and gender.
Her book, Gospel According to the Klan (2011), published with the University Press of Kansas in the CultureAmerica series, employs the 1920s Ku Klux Klan as a case study to explore the intersection of Protestantism, nationalism, whiteness, and gender. The Klan, rather than being a fringe movement in narratives of American religious history, proves to be more mainstream and essential to narratives of American culture. To understand the rise and fall of the Klan in American history complicates previous narratives that ignore the place race and Protestant Christianity in the creation of our national consciousness. The Klan's vision of America was not so different from that of its peers, but adding Klansmen and Klanswomen to our narratives implores a darker reading of religious ndationalism and American Christianity than we currently enjoy.
Kelly's current projects revolve around the place and prevalence of apocalypticism in American culture. She is writing a cultural history of zombies in America to explore the place of religion, devotion, consumption, and violence in American popular culture. Zombies prove to be a metaphor for contemporary concerns, so the project catalogs the historical as well as cultural portrayals of these monsters. Additionally, she is writing about the consumerism/consumption of the prophecy "scholarship" and fiction of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Her most recent publications include an article on "Rapture readiness" and an article on the materiality of the Klan's religion and intolerance. Additionally, she has contributed articles to at least eight encyclopedias, ranging in subject matter from religion and violence to American material culture.
She's the recipient of the 2007-2008 Research and Creativity Award from Florida State University as well as several research grants. She serves on the steering committee of the Arts, Literature, and Religion section for the American Academy of Religion. She is also the chair of the North American Religions section for the Southeastern Center for the Study of Religion (SECSOR) as well as the Religion and American Culture Caucus for the American Studies Association.. In addition to these commitments, Kelly is also an editor of the Religion in American History blog that received the Cliopatria Award for Best New Blog for 2007.