John L Modern Arthur & Katherine Shadek Professor of Religious Studies


Modern teaches classes in American religious history, literature, technology, and aesthetics. In 2022 Modern was named Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor of the Humanities and Religious Studies.

Modern is the author of The Bop Apocalypse: The Religious Visions of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs (University of Illinois Press, 2001) and Secularism in Antebellum America (University of Chicago Press, 2011). Modern's work has appeared in journals such as History of the Present, Grey RoomAmerican Literary History, Social Text, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Turnip Truck(s)Religion and American Culture, American ReligionChurch History, Method & Theory in the Study of Religion as well as in a range of on-line venues.

Modern is currently working on a long-term project that explores the end of the world through the lens of Akron, OH. 

Neuromatic; or, a Particular History of Religion and the Brain has recently been published by the University of Chicago Press. For an extended discussion of Neuromatic and the future of the humanities, click here.

Modern is also the PI for Machines in Between (2021-23), a multi-media project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster. Modern’s previous work has been funded by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council. 

Modern is a former member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ and, most recently, an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies (University of Pennsylvania) in 2018-19.

Modern is the  co-curator of  Frequencies: A Collaborative Genealogy of Spirituality and co-editor of Class 200: New Studies in Religion (both with Kathryn Lofton). 

Read interviews with Modern here (2009) and here (2021).

Listen to an interview with Modern here (2020).

Watch Modern lecture on "The Mystical Brain" here.

Be part of Modern's process of subjectivization here.

Follow Modern on Twitter here.

Modern earned his B.A. in religion from Princeton University in 1993, his MA in comparative religion from Miami University of Ohio (1996) and his Ph.D. in Religious studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2003.