Jessica DeCou

PhD, Theology

PhD in Theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Research emphases in Barth Studies, Systematic Theology, Theology of Culture/Popular Culture, Theological Method and Pneumatology.
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    Education

    University of Chicago

    Ph.D., Theology

    June 2012
    Dissertation:  Parables of Freedom- Toward a Barthian Pneumatology of Culture for Engaging Popular Culture in the 21st Century

    Committee:  Kathryn Tanner (advisor), Kevin Hector and William Schweiker

    Qualifying Examinations, 2009 (click exam name to view bibliography):
          Theology 1-  History of Christian Thought: Ancient/Medieval  (W. Otten)
          Theology 2-  History of Christian Thought: Early Modern  (S. Schreiner)
          Theology 3-  History of Christian Thought: Modern  (K. Tanner)
          History of Judaism 3-  Modern Jewish Thought (P. Mendes-Flohr)

     

    University of Iowa

    M.A. in Religious Studies

    2004
    M.A. Examinations:
          Philosophical Theology (D. Klemm, advisor)
          Theological Ethics (D. Cates)
          16th Century Social Thought (R. Mentzer)

     

     



    University of Iowa

    B.A. with distinction and honors in Religion

    2002
    Honors Thesis:  Surpassing Civilization- The Life and Writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel in Light of Hasidic Thought  (R. Keen, director)

    Fellowships and Awards

    Visiting Research Fellowship
    2014

    Universität Basel, Switzerland
    For research at the Europainstitut (Institute for European Global Studies).

    Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship
    2011-2012

    The Louisville Institute, Louisville, KY
    Selected via a national competition, supporting scholarship that promises a significant contribution to the study of American religion.

    Martin Marty Center Junior Fellowship
    2011-2012

    Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion, Chicago, IL
    Encouraging fellows to bring scholarly perspectives to bear on issues facing the wider public and to situate their own work within a broader cultural frame of reference.
    Doolittle-Harrison Fellowship
    2011

    University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
    Travel grant for doctoral students presenting at an academic conference.
    Perrin Memorial Fund Award
    2011

    University of Chicago Divinity School, Chicago, IL
    Travel grant for Divinity School students presenting research at an academic conference.
    Lilly Teaching Fellowship
    2010

    University of Chicago Divinity School, Chicago, IL
    Awarded to advanced doctoral student as an opportunity to teach a course in the M.Div. program. Part of the Border Crossing Initiative, seeking to broaden the scope of theological education.
    University of Chicago Provost's Summer Fellowship
    2007

    Office of the Provost, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
    Fellowship for qualifying exam preparation.
    Alice Lampe Heidel and John B. Heidel Teaching Award
    2004

    Department of Religious Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
    Awarded in recognition of commitment to teaching and exceptional service to undergraduate students.
    James F. Jakobsen Paper Award
    2004

    Jakobsen Forum, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
    For outstanding graduate student paper in the humanities.
    Sonia Sands Award in Jewish Studies
    2002

    Department of Religious Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
    For student paper demonstrating exceptional ability in Jewish Studies.
    Leo W. Schwarz Award in Old Testament and Jewish Studies
    2001

    Department of Religious Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
    For outstanding student paper in the field of Old Testament and Jewish Studies.

    Teaching Experience

    Visiting Lecturer in Systematic Theology

    Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

    2012-2013
    Self-designed courses. Full responsibility for instruction and grading.

    • Theology and Popular Culture:  Theological approaches to the study of popular culture in light of the methods of cognate disciplines. Relevance of popular culture/cultural literacy for the arts of ministry.

    • Eschatology:  Historical development and contemporary debates.

    • Pneumatology:  Readings in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, from the early church to contemporary Pentecostalism.


    Adjunct Faculty

    McCormick Theological Seminary

    2012
    Self-designed course. Full responsibility for all instruction and grading.

    • Theology and Popular Culture:  Theological approaches to the study of popular culture in light of the methods of cognate disciplines (e.g. media studies). Relevance of popular culture/cultural literacy for the arts of ministry.


    Lilly Teaching Fellow

    University of Chicago

    2010
    Created reading list in systematic theology. Lectured and led classroom discussions as a member of the teaching team consisting of faculty, clergy, and advanced doctoral student.

    • Arts of Ministry- Pastoral Care:  Relating practical work of ministry to the theological and cultural exploration of religious leadership.


    Course Assistant

    University of Chicago

    2004
    Graded student papers and assisted the instructor as needed.

    • The Ethics of Albert Camus:  Analysis of Camus's novels/lyrical essays in light of his ethical writings.


    Course Coordinator

    University of Iowa

    2003-2004
    Held discussion sections, including specially designed sections for students in the Honors Program. Formulated writing assignments. Generated and administered exams for the Department's largest courses (300+ students). Supervised the team of TAs assigned to the course.

    • Quest for Human Destiny - From Eden to 2001:  Exploring biblical themes in literature and film.

    • Judeo-Christian Tradition:  History of Jewish and Christian thought from the Bible to the present.


    Teaching Assistant

    University of Iowa

    1999-2003
    Held discussion sections and office hours for 75 students per semester. Formulated assignments and evaluated student papers. Served as guest lecturer on topics in the history of religious thought.

    • Modern Religion and Culture:  Religious trends and controversies from the Reformation to the 20th century.

    • Jewish Mysticism:  History of Jewish mysticism, including the Zohar, Medieval Pietism, Gersonides, Lurianic Kabbalah, Hasidism, Heschel and Buber.

    • Religion and Society:  Readings in Greek Philosophy, Catholic Moral Theology, Contemporary Buddhism, Judaism, and Systematic Theology.

    • Quest for Human Destiny - From Eden to 2001:  Exploring biblical themes in literature and film.

    • Judeo-Christian Tradition:  History of Jewish and Christian thought from the Bible to the present.

    Training in Pedagogy

    Course Design Workshop

    University of Chicago

    2010

    Workshop on developing reading lists, paper assignments, syllabi and course descriptions appropriate for introductory and advanced undergraduate level courses in Religious Studies.

    Teaching Religious Studies

    University of Iowa

    2004
    Semester long course on all aspects of teaching religious studies, including pedagogical theory and special issues in teaching religious studies in the academy, as well as constructing new courses, employing multi-media in the classroom, formulating assignments and exams, and understanding and implementing institutional policies.

    Teaching Competence

    - Systematic Theology - Religion and the Arts - History of Christianity
    - Philosophy of Religion - Religion and Society - Modern Jewish Thought
    - Theology of Culture - Religion and Popular Culture - Intro to Religious Studies
    - Methods and Theories - Religion in American Culture - Spirituality and Mysticism

    (Click links above and below for syllabi. Click here for additional sample syllabi)

    Research Interests

    - Systematic Theology - Life & Works of Karl Barth - Eschatology
    - Theology of Culture - Popular Culture Theory - Demonology
    - Theological Method - Religion & Criminal Justice - Theories of Humor
    - Religion & the Academy - Religion & American Media - Global Pentecostalism

    Publications

    Books


    Playful, Glad, and Free: Karl Barth and a Theology of Popular culture, Minneapolis: Fortress Press (forthcoming, 2013).   ISBN: 978-1-4514-6547-1.

    Books in Preparation


    "A Fantastic Affair": Barth in America, 1962. Under advance contract with Fortress Press (anticipated release in 2014).   ISBN: 978-1-4514-6553-2.

    Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles


    "Relocating Barth's Theology of Culture." International Journal of Systematic Theology, 15.2 (April 2013): 154-171.   doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2400.2012.00626.x.

    Book Chapters and Invited Articles


    "The First Community: Barth's American Prison Tours" (book chapter, to appear in the published proceedings of the 2012 Princeton Barth Conference).


    "Karl Barth - Comic Warrior." Word & World 32.2 (Spring 2012): 157-165.


    "The Living Christ and The Walking Dead." In The Undead and Theology, edited by K. Paffenroth and J. Morehead. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012.


    "'Too Dogmatic for Words'?  Karl Barth's Comic Theology in Dialogue with Craig Ferguson." The Religion & Culture Web Forum, Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion, University of Chicago (February 2011).

    Encyclopedia Entries


    "Hank Williams." In Music in American Life, edited by Jacqueline Edmondson. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO (forthcoming, September 2013).

    "Burial in Literature." In The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Vol. 4, edited by Hans-Josef Klauck et al. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012: 635-637.

    "Tower of Babel in Film." In The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Vol. 3, edited by Hans-Josef Klauck et al. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011: 253-254.

    "Baptism in Film." In The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Vol. 3, edited by Hans-Josef Klauck et al. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011: 470-472.

    Book Reviews


    The God Tube, by James Lawler,The Journal of Religion (forthcoming).

    Commanding Grace, edited by Daniel Migliore, Karl Barth Society Newsletter, 43, (Fall 2011): 5-8.

    Book Notes - Religious Studies Review


    Clothing, by Michele Saracino, RSR (forthcoming).

    Thinking in Tongues by James K.A. Smith RSR, 37.3 (2011): 198.
    Shaping Theology by David Ford, RSR, 36.1 (2010): 59.
    Not Every Spirit by Christopher Morse, RSR, 36.1 (2010): 63.
    The Devil Reads Derrida by James K.A. Smith, RSR, 36.1 (2010): 66.

    Essays in Magazines/Online Periodicals


    Review of Louie (written and directed by Louis C.K.), Christianity Today, 56.7 (July/August 2012): 94.


    "Zombie Sightings." Sightings, Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion, University of Chicago, 27 October 2011.

    Works in Progress

    “Barth and Culture.” In The Oxford Handbook to Karl Barth, edited by Paul T. Nimmo and Paul Dafydd Jones. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2015).

    Chapter on eschatology and popular culture for From Northampton to Azusa: Pentecostals and the Theology of Jonathan Edwards, edited by Amos Yong and Steven M. Studebaker.

    Review of Breaking Bad, Season 5 (created by Vince Gilligan), for Christianity Today (Summer 2013).

    Conference Presentations and Lectures

    Annual Meeting, American Academy of Religion


    "'Serious' Questions about 'True Words' in Culture," Karl Barth Society of North America, San Francisco, 2011.

    "Drinking to the Dregs: An Exploration of Plath, Hesse, and Tillich toward an Ontology of Suicide," Arts, Literature, and Religion Section and Tillich: Issues in Theology, Religion, and Culture Group, San Antonio, 2004.

    "Wide Awake: Social Justice and the Desert Fathers in U2's Bad," Religion and Popular Culture Group, Atlanta, 2003.

    Invited Lectures


    "Eschatology and Popular Culture," The American Church in Paris, 2012.

    "Barth's American Prison Tours, 50 Years Later," Princeton Theological Seminary, Barth Conference, 2012.

    Other Conference and Workshop Papers

    "Affirmation or Abomination? Popular Entertainment and its Role in a Barthian Pneumatology of Culture," U. of Chicago Theology Workshop, 2011.

    "Prayer, Pathos and Poetry in the Work of Abraham Joshua Heschel and Moyshe Shagal," University of Iowa Religion and the Arts Conference, 2004.

    "Plath, Hesse and an Ontology of Self Murder," University of Iowa Jakobsen Forum, 2004.

    "Theology of a Homicide: Life on the Street," AAR Upper Midwest Regional Meeting, St. Paul, 2003.

    Academic Service

    Chapel Team Mentor
    (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)
    2012-2013
    Planning Committee, Border Crossing Conference
    (University of Chicago Divinity School)
    2010
    Chairperson and Moderator, Religion and the Arts Conference
    (University of Iowa)
    2003-2004
    Moderator, Humanities Session, James F. Jakobsen Graduate Forum
    (University of Iowa)
    2003-2004

    Related Professional Experience

    Theology Area Assistant
    (University of Chicago Divinity School)
    2010-2011
    Editorial Assistant, Ethics Journal
    (University of Chicago Press)
    2008
    Archives Accessions Assistant, Special Collections Research Center
    (University of Chicago Library)
    2008-2010
    Digitization Assistant, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection
    (University of Chicago Library)
    2006-2008
    Research Assistant, Department of Religious Studies
    (University of Iowa)
    2002

    Professional Associations

    American Academy of Religion
    Karl Barth Society of North America
    Society of Biblical Literature

    Languages

    French:  University of Chicago French Reading Exam
    2006
    German:  Divinity School German Reading Exam
    2006

    References

    Available on request

     

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