1. Hello! Tell us about yourself… who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jessica Keady and I have recently graduated with a PhD in Religions and Theology from The University of Manchester (July 2015). My doctoral work looked at the role of purity/impurity in the Dead Sea Scrolls from a gendered perspective – focusing particularly on masculinity studies and the social scientific understanding of the everyday. I was particularly interested in uncovering the vulnerable male. I am currently working as a Visiting Lecturer/Research Assistant for the University of Chester and I am teaching Biblical Hebrew for a full academic year and Jesus and the Gospels and the Bible in Contents and Contexts for the upcoming second semester. I am also preparing my PhD manuscript for publication with Sheffield Phoenix Press.
2. How did you get involved with Orange is the New Bible?
I first heard about the Orange is the New Bible Symposium via Twitter and Facebook and was immediately drawn to the idea. I have found both Jo’s and Lucy’s research interests and ideas really engaging and we have had discussions about how to ‘shake up’ the biblical field and I think this Symposium is a great way forward to starts discussing the bible and religion in a dynamic and cultural way.
3. What interests you about Orange is the New Black and the Bible?
When I was watching Orange is the New Black I was constantly seeing links with biblical subjects and characters – religion has played a prominent theme throughout the three series. I am currently writing a chapter for a volume on rape culture and religion and I think that this is an area of study that can be linked with the portrayal of Tiffany Doggett in OITNB. I also found the Jewish conversion scene with Cindy to be very moving and I was able to relate this to my own doctoral work on purity issues – especially the moving scene at the end of series 3 when Cindy uses the mikveh.
4. How can Orange is the New Bible relate to your everyday work?
I think OITNBible can help me understand how popular culture uses religious imagery in social settings – regardless of sex, age, ethnicity, sexuality – and determine how others view such imagery. I also think OITNBible has the potential to create a research network for those with similar research interests which can progress into future projects.
5. OITNBible is a Hidden Perspectives project. How do you think OITNBible can help ‘bring the Bible out of the closet’?
I think OITNBible can enable those involved to talk openly about how they view the Bible in OITNB – and push boundaries with ideas and thoughts that in certain settings would not be appreciated as much as it should be.
6. If you’ve seen the TV show, tell us about one character and why they interest you?
I have always been interested in Doggett and her fascinating storyline – with a strong Christian faith/ nasty and aggressive attitude on one side and vulnerable child-like attitude on the other side/ the awful childhood that she had and the attitude to sex that she was told to have by her mother/ the homophobic attitudes that she strongly has in the first few seasons and yet strong friendship she shares with Boo by the end of series three and the vulnerability she shows when raped by the guard in the prison – her character covers all aspects of life, the good, the bad and the ugly.
7. What other projects are you working on?
I am currently working on my doctoral manuscript for publication with Sheffield Phoenix Press (draft manuscript due December 2015) and I am also working on a book chapter relating to rape culture and religion (eds. Caroline Blyth and Emily Colgan) – the chapter is focused on the portrayal of rape and impurity in Genesis 34. I have recently started working as a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Chester and I have also accepted a position as a Research Assistant.
8. What would you like to see OITNBible do next?
I think it would be great to have a two day conference based on OITNBible and build a research network that could meet annually and share similar ideas and research interests.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to say about OITNBible at the moment?
I am so pleased that such an interdisciplinary symposium is being organised by two fantastic women whose work and research ideas are innovative and thought provoking – it is a great privilege to be involved and I look forward to the forthcoming meeting and future projects.