Philip Francis

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20152016 Forum on Sex

Philip Francis

Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Manhattan College

Ph.D., Harvard University, 2011

Philip Francis explores questions of religion and the body, with attention to the shifting interrelations of aesthetics, gender, and sexuality in the modern West, especially in the context of American Christianity. His forthcoming book with Oxford University Press, Aesthetic Education of the Evangelical Mind: When the Arts Disrupt Religion, is an ethnographic study of men and women who grew up in American Evangelicalism and left it, and for whom aesthetic experiences provided the crucial interventions that unsettled their religious identities and sent them careening off in new directions.


During his year at the Forum, Philip continues his current ethnographic project on Evangelicalism’s changing approach to LGBTQ issues. The study focuses on the recent and dramatic rise of LGBTQ student groups at Evangelical colleges that maintain an explicit ban on “homosexual behavior.” Five years ago, such groups were virtually nonexistent. Today, over 75 such groups have formed an umbrella organization and are beginning to change the conversation at these colleges. Live questions on subjectivity and sociality are engaged as the study explores the ways that these students struggle to perform an identity for which there is as yet little or no precedent: the openly LGBTQ evangelical.