Let Me Entertain You: The Exciting Perks and Perils of Teaching American Religion as a Vaudeville (or Burlesque?) Performer



While teaching a course on religion and consumer culture in the United States, the author was intensely preoccupied with holding the interest of her undergraduate students during class sessions. Inspired in part by the subject matter of the course, she reflects here upon the extent that her courses on American religion drew upon the semiotics of commercial entertainment. While acknowledging the limitations and distortions possible in thinking of the teacher as an entertainer, this paper explores the teaching metaphor of the Vaudevillian Performer, arguing that if put in context with the work on reception in cultural studies, it can be a helpful model in the classroom.