1. Hello! Tell us about yourself…who are you and what do you do?
I’m Katie Edwards and I’m Director of the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies and Senior Lecturer in the School of English at The University of Sheffield. I’m also delighted and proud to be PhD supervisor to one half of the OINTBible genius duo, Jo Merrygold.
2. How did you get involved with/interested in Orange is the New Bible?
Jo sent me an email a few months ago to ask if SIIBS/Hidden Perspectives might host an event on Orange is the New Black and the Bible and I was immediately on board – it’s VERY Hidden Perspectives. The formidable #doublepairit team of Jo and Lucy turned the idea into a reality within days of getting the go ahead. I have to say, those two are one impressive academic double act.
3. What interests you about Orange is the New Black and the Bible?
My main research interest is the function and influence of the Bible in contemporary popular culture, with particular focus on gender and sexuality, and I’m a huge OITNB fan. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit, really!
4. How does Orange is the New Bible relate to your everyday work?
In my every day work I look at how the Bible permeates popular culture and how biblical imagery and representations of biblical characters often function as vehicles to communicate complex ideas about constructions of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and disabilities. OITNB is an important popular cultural product, not only because of its cult status, huge global audience and cultural influence, but because each episode attempts to interrogate and undermine or deconstruct many of our current constructions of and attitudes to social identities, particularly minority identities. It’s a great series.
5. OITNBible is a Hidden Perspectives project. How do you think OITNBible can help the Bible out of the closet’?
OITNBible is an extension of the work Hidden Perspectives has been doing for last three years around the Bible and LGBT, but the event OITNB event will see a broadening of the Hidden Perspectives Project to include issues around gender, class, race and ethnicity, mental health, and intersectionality, as well as sexualities. I don’t think the Bible will be anywhere near the closet after this!
6. If you’ve seen the TV show, tell us about one character and why they interest you?
It’s been a bit of joke with the OITNB organisers, Jo and Lucy, that I only use images of Tiffany Doggett in the Twitter posts I write about OITNBible and I have to say that I’m guilty of being a bit image obsessed by Tiffany; she’s definitely my favourite character. On a personal level, she breaks my heart, but on an academic level (drawing an arbitrary and totally unpersuasive line between the personal and the academic there!) I’m fascinated by her character and all the issues around gender, class, motherhood, sexual violence, consent, mental health, and abortion that focus around her. There’s so much there, just in this one character. I won’t say too much because I’m presenting on this at the conference!
7. What other projects are you working on and/or what is next for you??
I’m currently working with Caroline Blyth and Emily Colgan (University of Auckland) on a project on the Bible and rape culture and right now I’m on research leave completing a monograph on biblical literacy and popular culture. Needless to say, Orange is the New Black features heavily. I’m currently writing about Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus (they look like the same person to me anyway), on whom I’m really not keen. I can’t wait to get back to writing about Tiffany Doggett again…
8. What would you like to see OITNBible do next?
I’d like to see OITNB develop into a bigger interdisciplinary research project and, in the meantime, I’d like to see the papers from the first event published as an edited volume. There are senior academics from all sorts of unexpected disciplines (Engineering and Physics to name only two examples) will be presenting research on the day and I think the conference is going to highlight some really innovative and exciting interdisciplinary research.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to say about OITNBible at the moment?
There are limited spaces at the conference so if you want to go (and it seems that lots of you do!) then book your place – quick!