Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Orange is the New Bible Week, Day 1 – Keynote Papers

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OITNBible Poster

OITNBible Poster

We are delighted to be able to share the abstracts for the keynote papers for Orange is the New Bible.

Keynote Papers

  • Samson and the Salon: How we construct gendered identities through hair Lucy Skerratt
  • “The Second Time Around”: The Demand for Different in Revelation and OITNB Michelle Fletcher.
  • “Best thing is to go on and let them do their business”: Religion, Rape Culture and OITNB Katie Edwards

Don’t forget, you can still book tickets by visiting our Eventbrite page – there are only a couple left!

Samson and the Salon: How we construct gendered identities through hair

Lucy Skerratt

Lu-polaHair is the great identifier, but also the great divider. The way we present ourselves says a lot about our gender, sexuality, social location, ethnicity and economic class. In Orange is the New Black, hair, although rarely an obvious thematic device plays an essential role with how the characters identify themselves, and see each other. Like the character Samson, when we lose our hair we lose a part of ourselves, become like anybody else, and located as an anonymous group member rather than an individual. With the inclusion of the hair salon within the prison, managed by Sophia, such becomes the great normaliser: giving the female prisoners a true sense of self, of acceptance and self-worth. The story of Samson and Delilah in Judges 16 has similar connotations, Samson’s teasing to his partner about his weaknesses only end in him squandering his great strength and losing his sense of identity and self-hood. This is only further highlighted by the tangling of the hair itself which charms away elements of his character until he is no more. However, when his hair starts to grow back, so does his identity and therefore his strength. This paper will seek to explore the intersection between Sophia’s salon and its central place and role within Litchfield prison in affirming the individual identities of the prisoners and furthermore how such relates to the story of Samson as a hero who is tempted, who loses everything, and yet through the regrowth of his hair finds himself and his identity before making the ultimate sacrifice.

Lucy Skerratt is an MA student in Biblical Studies at King’s College London (KCL). She completed her BA at the University of Leeds in Theology and Religious Studies where she focused particularly on the book of Lamentations and contemporary understandings of HIV/AIDS. Her focus at present is on sexual health, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual identity within the Hebrew Bible. She is also at present researching constructions of female masculinity in the Hebrew Bible texts, the nature of self-confession in biblical studies and contemporary understandings of ethnicity within the Hebrew Bible framework. Lucy is one of the co-organisers of Orange is the New Bible.


“The Second Time Around”: The Demand for Different in Revelation and OITNB

Michelle Fletcher

Michelle Fletcher-pola“Based on reality”—This tagline has the power to enthral and to sell, and OITNB has certainly made it clear that what we are seeing on screen is founded on real-life experiences, Piper Kerman’s 13 months stint in Danbury Federal Correctional Institute to be specific. This has lent the show a level of veracity, which despite its often white-middle-classed perspective on events, has often shielded it from criticisms surrounding its portrayal of inmate dynamics and race. Yet how much is the show actually “based” on the reality of Piper’s memoir? What gets added, mixed, and taken away in its adaption to screen? What is more, what is different as the series continues? Adaptation and sequel theory will be used to inform our reading, as we explore not only the alterations between memoir and screen but also the differences between series one and series two. This will reveal an increase in “second time around” portrayals of sex, violence, and character contextualisation. These theories of alteration and addition will then be applied to the book of Revelation in order to explore its portrayal of the image of Christ. What is it that this portrayal offers that other NT accounts do not, and what is added, mixed and altered in Christ’s adaptation to apocalypse? The paper will conclude by asking how these seemingly different examinations of alterations can inform each other, and what audiences experience when characters and situations “based on reality” are adapted, and presented in new forms.

Michelle Fletcher is currently an Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent. She did her doctoral studies at KCL, using film theory to examine the use of the Hebrew Bible in the book of Revelation. Michelle has a particular passion for bringing biblical studies into dialogue with visual media theory and for blurring the boundaries between “high” and “low” culture. Her publications cover topics such as examining Terminator’s use of the Apocalypse, Film Noir, Frankenstein films, and feminist re-readings of the New Testament.


“Best thing is to go on and let them do their business”: Religion, Rape Culture and OITNB

Katie Edwards

KatieTiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett seems to be a polarizing character for fans of the TV series Orange is the New Black. While some may find her the ‘meth-mouthed bully’ of season one (Etkin, 2015), and others criticize the show’s writers and producers, who ‘clearly got their only images of rural poor white people directly from the movie Deliverance’ (Leondar-Wright, 2013), there can be little doubt that she is central to the OITNB’s biting commentary on religion, sexual assault and cultural constructions and representations of ‘ideal’ motherhood. This paper will read Pennsatucky’s story against current debates on abortion, motherhood, religion and rape culture, to argue that class is the common theme underlying public discourse and cultural representations that consistently present women as responsible for sexual threat and violence and failure to adhere to socially accepted roles of mother and ‘carer’.

Katie Edwards is Director of the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) and Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Sheffield. Katie’s research focuses on the function, impact and influence of the Bible in contemporary popular culture with particular interest in the intersections of gender, sexualities, race and class in popular cultural reappropriations of biblical characters and narratives. Katie is currently editing the Handbook of Rape Culture, Gender Violence, and Religion (Palgrave Macmillan) with Caroline Blyth (University of Auckland) and editing the Hidden Perspectives series (Bloomsbury) with Minna Shkul (University of Sheffield).



Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

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