Kj Swanson headshot

Kj Swanson, PhD

Dr. Swanson earned her Divinity PhD within the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, following an MDiv from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and an undergraduate degree in theatre arts from Bennington College, VT. Her research and teaching explores theological intersections with popular culture, feminist theory, and public meaning-making, particularly within the arts. As a contextual theologian, Dr. Swanson is most galvanized by critical perspectives that unearth the diversity of theological reflection made possible when the lived experiences of underrepresented communities are regarded authoritatively.

Dr. Swanson’s training and work in the performing arts as a dramaturg and director continue to influence both her teaching style and content, with particular interest in education as a fully embodied experience co-created between learners, instructors, and text (and where every course gets its own “pre-show” playlist).

Recent Courses

  • TCE 511 Theology and the Artistic Impulse
  • TCE 513B Advanced Seminar: Queer Theory and Christian Theology
  • TCE 544 Triune God & Creation: Ecotheology
  • SFD 523 Spirituality & The Arts: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • TCE 543 God, Gender & Sexuality
  • TCE 575B Special Topics: “Disney, Fairy Tales & Feminist Theory”
  • TCE 575B Special Topics: “Dystopia & Apocalypse: Hope & Resistance”
  • SFD 523 Spirituality & The Arts: Film
  • Lead Instructor for 1st year Common Curriculum Learning Labs:
    • IDS 504 Critical Reading Lab
    • IDS 505 Contextual Learning Lab
    • IDS 503 Textual Integrations

Conference Papers

  • “’Avenging is your world. Your world is crazy’: Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road as Action Films that Problematize Redemptive Violence,” at the 7th Biennial Whedon Studies Association Conference, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, July, 2016
  • “Faith, Fiction, and Feminism: Exploring a Two-Hundred Year Relationship,” at Symposia: An Intersection of Conversation and Innovation, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, October 2015, via live-streaming
  • “Giving The World The Queen(s) It Deserves: How Snow White & the Huntsman and Maleficent De-sanitize the Patriarchal Curses of Disneyfied Fairytales,” at the Popular and American Culture Association International Conference, Reykjavik, July 2015
  • “’God Did Not Give Me My Life To Throw Away’: Reading the Fiction of Charlotte Brontë Through Feminist Theology,” at The Institute For Theology, Imagination, and the Arts Research Seminar, University of St Andrews, February 2015
  • “Sinners, Saints and Angels on Fire: The Curiously Religious Soundtrack Of The Hunger Games’ Secular Dystopia,” at Current Research in Speculative Fiction Conference, University of Liverpool, June 2014
  • “Expecto Pater. I Send a Patronus: Reading Harry Potter’s Journey of Identity in Prisoner of Azkaban from a Theological/Psychological Lens,” at the Southwest Texas Popular and American Culture Association Conference, Albuquerque, February 2012


  • “Sinners, Saints and Angels on Fire: The Curiously Religious Soundtrack Of The Hunger Games’ Secular Dystopia.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 28, no. 1 (2016): 23-42. doi: doi.org/10.3138/jrpc.28.1.3235.
  • “Expecto Pater: Reading Harry’s Journey of Identity in Prisoner of Azkaban” in Legilimens: Perspectives in Harry Potter Studies, edited by Christopher E. Bell, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013, 95-112.
  • “Why Are You Apologizing For Bleeding?” Confronting the Evangelical Embrace of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. The Other Journal, 18 (2011): 70-80.