Katharine Mershon


My project ("Who rescued whom?: The Logic of Redemption in American Dog Rescue") begins by asking why so much of the language around dog rescue in the United States describes rescue in terms of redemption and considers what happens when animals become redemptive subjects. By examining case studies drawn from American literature and visual media, I argue that the discourse of redemption deploys a category logic whereby the human is separated from the animal, the subject from the object, and the redeemed from the damned. My work shows how these seemingly distinct categories dissolve upon closer scrutiny, reflecting larger American anxieties about policing the boundaries of religion, race, and species. More generally, my research examines religious experience outside of traditional spaces and texts, and brings together animal studies and religious studies.

I am excited to participate in the Marty Center Junior Fellow program this year and look forward to receiving feedback from colleagues who approach the academic study of religion from a wide variety of perspectives. It will also be productive to consider together how to translate the contemporary concerns of religious studies to a wider audience. In addition, I am teaching a course on “Animals, Ethics, and Religion” this winter, and am looking forward to discussing the intersection among research, writing, and teaching.