Shanny Luft

Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Director of General Education


Ph.D. - Religion in America, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, May 2008
M.A. - Religion and Culture, Boston University, May 2001
B.S. - English with a concentration in Secondary Education, Towson University, 1995


Curriculum Vitae (pdf)


Shanny Luft received his M.A. in Religion and Culture from Boston University and his Ph.D. in Religion in America from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He taught at UNC-Chapel Hill, Meredith College, and the College of Wooster before coming to UWSP in 2009 with his wife and two children. His research interests include religion and popular culture, new religious movements, and American evangelicalism and fundamentalism. He is currently writing a book about evangelical attitudes toward the film industry in the early twentieth century.

Select Publications 

"Hardcore Christian Gamers," in Playing and Religion in Video Games, edited by Heidi Campbell and Greg Grieve, Indiana University Press, 2014.

Book review:  Sandler, Lauren. Righteous: Dispatches fromthe Evangelical Youth Movement. New York City:  Penguin Group USA, 2007.  Published in The Journal of Religiion and Popular Culture, Summer 2010.

"Amusement Parks” and “Film: the United States” Encyclopedia of the Modern World, Peter Stearns, ed. (Oxford University Press, 2008).

"Boycotts” Encyclopedia of Religion, Communication, and Media, Daniel A. Stout, ed. (Routledge Press, 2005).

“Evil” Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism, Brenda E. Brasher, ed. (Routledge Press, 2000).


"Hardcore Christian Gamers," American Academy of Religiion annual conference, November 2013

"Playing with Faith:  A Study of Evangelical Gamers," Upper Midwest Regional Meeting, March 2012

"In the Devil's Church:  The Christian Fight Over Hollywood," University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, University Evening, October 2012

"How Evangelicals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Movies," Life Lecture Series, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Februar 2012

“The Celestial Menace: Exploring Early Twentieth-Century Fundamentalist Rage against Movie Stars” a paper examining Christian rhetoric toward the legitimate stage and the movie theater, Religion and Media Workshop hosted by the Auburn Center, Montreal, Canada, Fall 2009

“Playing with Fire” a paper on nineteenth century evangelical attitudes toward leisure, at the Midwestern regional American Academy of Religion conference, Spring 2009.

“From Stage to Screen,” an examination of the history of Christian rhetoric toward the theater and cinema, Duke University Religion and Media conference, Spring 2008

“Born Digital/Born Again Digital,” a paper on the history of religious video games, at the American Academy of Religion annual conference, Fall 2008

“The Theater and the Church: The Hostile Reception of Fundamentalists toward the Hollywood Film Industry, 1915-1955” at the Popular Culture Association annual conference, Spring 2007

Community Lectures

Inventing Santa Claus,” Community Lecture Series, December 2014, Stevens Point, WI

“For Unto Us a Santa is Born,” on the cultural history of Santa Claus, Community Lecture Series, December 2013, Stevens Point, WI
“The Devil’s Church: Evangelicals and Hollywood in the 1940s,” Community Lecture Series, March 2012, Stevens Point, WI

Grants and Awards 

University of Wisconsin System Fellow, awarded by the Institute for Research in the Humanities at University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2011-2012

UWSP Excellence in Teaching Award, Philosophy department nominee, 2010–2011 and 2011–2012

UWSP College of Letters & Science Enhancement Grant 2010 and 2011

UWSP College of Letters & Science Faculty & Program Development Grant 2010

UNC Graduate Student Teaching Award for contributing to outstanding undergraduate education, Spring 2007



Contact Information

​Office: ​CCC 420/ALB 206D
​Phone: ​715.346.4023


REL 101 Judaism, Christianity, Islam
REL 107 Religious Autobiographies
REL 202 Introduction to the Study of Religion
REL 304 New Testament and Early Christianity
REL 311 Religion in America
REL 317 New Religious Movements
REL 318 Religion and Popular Culture
REL 343​ Judaism
REL 344​ Christianity​​