Professor Andrus specializes in Religion in America, with a particular interest in religion and popular culture. She majored in religion at Oberlin College in Ohio where she finished her B.A. in 1992, and completed a Masters degree in 1995 at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. She received her PhD. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006. Her dissertation on the relationship between evangelicalism and bluegrass music is titled High Lonesome Gospel: The Role of Evangelicalism in Shaping an American Music Culture. Her research presently focuses on fan cultures and the religious symbols and uses they find in invented or imagined worlds like Battlestar Galactica, the Big Lebowski, and LEGO Bionicles. She is also pursuing projects in the role of religion in public discourses about diversity, pluralism, and politics in America, particularly how religion has been and will be taught in public schools, and how Vermont’s religious landscape has changed over time.
“Religion surrounds us in America, and more and more has taken center stage in our national dialogue through politics and entertainment. In order to be engaged citizens of our communities all of us must be aware of the undercurrents of religious history. Likewise, in a world of instantaneous communications across geographical, linguistic, and cultural boundaries, understanding religious concepts allows us to navigate differences more competently and with greater respect and understanding. Teaching the introductory course in Comparative religion, and courses like “Religion and Popular Culture in America” are particularly rewarding to me, as I find the students continue to challenge me with their own perspectives, just as the material challenges them to broaden their idea of what religion is and what role it plays in our society.”