Grad Student Spotlight: Kaitlyn Lindgren-Hansen

Lindgren-HansenThis month we are featuring Kaitlyn Lindgren-Hansen, who graduated with her M.A. in our department and is now a 3rd year Ph.D. student.  We are excited to share of Kaity's accomplishments this summer, when she served as a Humanities for the Public Good Intern. Kaity was competitively selected for this program and served as an intern with a local nonprofit, Multicultural Development Center of Iowa.  Read more about this great experience here.

Read on to learn more about Kaity, her studies, and her goals.

Hometown: Aurora, Illinois  
 
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Diana Cates 
 
What is your degree program and expected graduation date? 
I received my MA in Religious Studies from the department in the Spring of 2019 and started in the PhD program in the Fall of 2019. I hope to graduate by Spring 2023.  
 
Please describe your research: 
My research examines spiritualism in the 19th century U.S. by looking to women’s writing. Spiritualists believed they could contact and communicate with the dead through a variety of media (including planchettes, which were a precursor to the oujia board!). Many women in the movement acted as mediums, or bodily conduits from which the spirits could speak and write. U.S. spiritualism drew together concepts from Protestant Christianity, technological advancement, the principles of scientific engagement, and social reform movements; because it was influenced by so many cultural currents, it’s an exciting religion to study.  
 
Spiritualism was popular among many groups of people, especially women. I focus on an array of women’s writing from personal letters to autobiography and fiction to explore how everyday women participated in spiritualism’s development. Because spiritualism was a lively and constantly shifting religious movement, I look to women’s writing in order to think about the ways they navigated-and contributed to-these shifts.  
 
In simple terms, why does this research matter?
In terms of its historical importance, my research brings together multiple disciplinary perspectives-religious studies, literary studies, and media studies-to address the way that women participated in a wildly popular religious movement through their writing and writing media. I hope that my research offers important insights about the way that bodies and writing operate together to shape (and re-shape!) religion.  
 
My research also has bearing on the way that we conceive of the relationship between religion and science in the U.S. Spiritualism joined conversations about religion, science, and technology together—in fact they thought these concepts were mutually constitutive. This synthesis of religion, science, and technology is worth examining throughout U.S. American cultures because impacts how we perceive various sociopolitical issues.  
 
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?  
I have had many chances to participate in a range of research projects and opportunities at the University of Iowa. During one of the program’s core courses, Genealogies of Religion, I was able to begin research on the concept of “world religions” and the way it affects our pedagogical orientations in the field. This research culminated in a seminar paper, which I have since turned into a journal article which was recently accepted for publication.  
 
I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Supp-Montgomerie on two separate occasions to assist with finalizing her manuscript of her book, When the Medium Was the Mission. This was a great research opportunity because I had the chance to see Dr. Supp-Montgomerie's research process in action, and it also gave me insight into the academic publishing process.  
 
With the support of the Religious Studies department, I was also able to participate in the Los Angeles Review of Books Publishing Workshop in summer of 2020. I had the chance to develop new editorial and production skills during the workshop, as well as networking with people throughout the publishing industry. It was an invaluable experience that will serve me well during the rest of the Ph.D. program and beyond.  
 
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?I hope to remain in academia to continue both researching and teaching. However, I’ve developed so many skills and had access to so many opportunities during my time here that I’m confident I will thrive in whatever environment I find myself in.  

Click here for Kaity's Bio.

Click here for past Graduate Student Spotlights.