NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor and Associate Professor of Religion, Modern Christianity; American Religion
Anthony Petro is an associate professor in the Department of Religion and in the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program. From 2020 to 2023, I was also BU’s Distinguished Teaching Professor, a chair endowed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which allowed me to do many things, one of which was to found BU’s Health Humanities Project.
My teaching and research interests include the history of religion in United States; religion, medicine, and public health; and gender and sexuality studies. My first book, After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion (Oxford University Press, 2015), examines the history of American religious responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis and their role in the promotion of ongoing forms of what I call “moral citizenship.” I’ve also written several essays dealing with Catholic studies, disability, secularism, and feminist and queer studies.
I am currently writing a book called Provoking Religion: Sex, Art, and the Culture Wars (under contract with Oxford University Press), which traces heated debates over sex, art, race, and religion to reveal competing genealogies of the sacred and the secular in the modern U.S. It explores how a range of feminist and queer artists have engaged religious themes and ritual in their work, spanning from Judy Chicago’s 1979 The Dinner Party and Ray Navarro’s role in ACT UP’s Stop the Church demonstration to Renee Cox’s Yo Mama’s Last Supper and the 2010 controversy surrounding David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly. Provoking Religion asks how this archive of visual and performance art helps us to rethink key categories in the study of religion and in gender and sexuality studies and develops an analysis of what I call the “aesthetics of literalism” that is dominant in culture wars rhetoric. I spent the 2019-2020 academic year working on this project while in residence at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.
- RN100 Introduction to Religion
- RN111 Multireligious America
- RN209 Religion, Health and Medicine
- RN212 Christianity
- CC222 “Unmaking” the Modern World
- RN368 American Evangelicalism
- RN427/WS305 Topics in American Religion (Religion and Sexuality)
- RN450 Topics in Rel, Science, & Med (Religion, Health, & the Body)
- RN450 Topics in Rel, Science, & Med (AIDS, Art, & Religion in America)
- RN452 Topics in Religious Thought (Religion, Secularism, & Power)
- RN453/WS305 Topics in Religious & Sexuality (Sex, Art, & the Sacred)
- RN454/WS454 Sexuality and Religion in the U.S.