Fandom and Religion

University of Leicester
July 28-30, 2015

Fandom and Religion.jpg

The extent to which mass following of popular culture – popular music stars, TV shows or football fandom – can act as a form of faith for followers is to be explored at an international conference at the University of Leicester.

“Fandom is a major activity today: people’s passions become major commitments, and fans start seeming like religious devotees,” says Dr Clive Marsh, Director of Lifelong Learning at the University of Leicester, who is one of the organisers. “I am particularly interested in researching the intensity with which people exercise their fandom, and how this signals the meaning and purpose that people find in, and through, their fan activity. Functionally at least, this can prove to be very similar indeed to religious practice.”

Popular culture (sport, music, TV, films, video games) is an arena in which people make meaning in Western society, whether they are religious or not. Fans are people who are devoted to, and passionate about, a particular interest, team, activity, star, band, artist, or other object or subject of ‘devotion’.

Whether fandom can be considered a religion today and what the interactions are between religion and popular culture are the main topics to be explored in the international inter-disciplinary conference Fandom and Religion on 28–30 July 2015 at the University of Leicester.

Among the topics at the conference are:

  • Fandom as a Psychological Phenomenon
  • Pop Devotion, and the Transfiguration of Dead Celebrities
  • Fandom, Sport and Hope