Stewart Hoover, professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has been awarded a grant of $467,000 over four years from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. to study new trends in religion and the media.
Titled "Symbolism, Media and the Lifecourse," the study involves religious symbolism and its relation to contemporary life.
Hoover and other scholars contend that today's faith, belief, spirituality and ritual are centering more on the individual than on organized religious communities affiliated with specific denominations. His research is expected to shed light on religious symbolism in an age dominated by the visual media.
The MTV generation experiences cultural symbolism in far different ways than did its parents, and with so many current media productions dealing with religion, it is a good time to look at these relationships, Hoover said.
Hoover's earlier study, Religion in Public Discourse: The Role of the Media, also funded by Lilly Endowment, received wide recognition in 1994. In January 1996 he organized an international conference at CU-Boulder on various aspects of media, religion and culture.
Hoover was a visiting scholar last year at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, where he organized a meeting of key researchers in media and culture.
A sociologist and professor of journalism with appointments in religious studies and American studies, Hoover is an internationally recognized authority on broadcast and print media coverage of religion news.
He has studied the social sources of televangelism and published a 1988 book on the subject. A native of Rocky Ford, Colo., Hoover joined the CU-Boulder faculty in 1991.