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    Developing religious literacy through popular culture fandom: engaging religious issues in Fleabag fan fiction

    Crome, Andrew ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0263-0829 (2023) Developing religious literacy through popular culture fandom: engaging religious issues in Fleabag fan fiction. Journal of Contemporary Religion. ISSN 1353-7903

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    Abstract

    This article examines 120 fan-authored stories focusing on the character of the “Hot Priest” in television comedy Fleabag (BBC/Amazon 2016-2019), examining how fans use their fandom to explore religious issues and develop religious and theological literacy. This challenges the “banality” of media representations of religion suggested by Stig Hjarvard’s mediatisation thesis through examining fan responses to a “secular” television show. As they engage through fandom, fan authors participate in reflection on contemporary Catholic issues, discuss God’s character, and interpretations of scripture. This is a form of “serious play” that allows for detailed meditation on these subjects. Although fans’ engagement with religious issues is not a reversal of the decline of religious affiliation in the West, it is a sign of the “new visibility of religion” in which examples of both “traditional” and new religion emerge in novel, and often unexpected, contexts.

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