TODAY AT 4 P.M.: In the Company of Scholars: On the almost religious practice of parenting

“Religion and the Practice of American Parenting” is the topic of a lecture by Yale scholar Kathryn Lofton to be presented on Tuesday, Feb. 19, as the next offering in the In the Company of Scholars lecture series.

The talk, which is free and open to the Yale community, will take place at 4 p.m. in Rm. 119 of the Hall of Graduate Studies, 320 York St. It will also be livestreamed on Yale's YouTube channel. A reception will follow in the McDougal Center common room.

“We live in an age where there seems to be no higher moral imperatives than those associated with parenting,” notes Lofton, the Sarai Ribicoff Associate Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies. “At the same time that there has been a decline in religious orthodoxy, the expectations of what it means to be a parent have become more orthodox. Not that more parents are religious, but that more people treat parenting religiously.

“This talk explores how this came to be, arguing that parenting is usefully understood through the interdisciplinary matrix of religious studies,” she adds.

Lofton’s research explores the inseparability of religion and its cultural constructions and, likewise, the extent to which culture itself is embedded in religious histories. Her first book, “Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon” (2011), used the example of Oprah Winfrey to explore the formation of religion in modern America.

In the Company of Scholars is sponsored by Thomas D. Pollard, dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Earlier lectures this year featured Yale historian Beverly Gage talking about “J. Edgar Hoover and the Rise of Modern Conservatism,” and political scientist Jacob Hacker on the theme “Is American Politics Undermining the American Dream?”