David Morgan


Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies


  • Ph.D., The University of Chicago 1990

  • M.A., University of Arizona 1984

  • B.A., Concordia College 1980


David Morgan is Professor of Religious Studies with a secondary appointment in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke. He chaired the Department of Religious Studies from 2013 to 2019. Morgan received the Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1990. He has published several books and dozens of essays on the history of religious visual culture, fine art, and art theory. Images at Work: The Material Culture of Enchantment, was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press. The Forge of Vision: A Visual History of Modern Christianity, based on the 2012 Cadbury Lectures delivered at the University of Birmingham, UK, appeared in 2015 from the University of California Press. Previous books include The Embodied Eye: Religious Visual Culture and the Social Life of Feeling (California, 2012), The Lure of Images: A History of Religion and Visual Media in America (Routledge, 2007) and two that he edited and contributed to: Religion and Material Culture: The Matter of Belief (Routledge, 2010) and Key Words in Religion, Media, and Culture (Routledge, 2008). Earlier works: The Sacred Gaze (California, 2005), Protestants and Pictures (Oxford, 1999), and Visual Piety (University of California Press, 1998). Morgan is co-founder and co-editor of the international scholarly journal, Material Religion, and co-editor of a book series entitled "Bloomsbury Studies in Material Religion," published by Bloomsbury, London. He is currently at work on a new book under contract with the University of North Carolina Press, entitled "The Thing about Religion: An Introduction to the Material Study of Religions."


History of religious visual culture, art history and critical theory, religion and media


The Sacred Heart of Jesus: The Visual Evolution of a Devotion
From its origins in the mid-seventeenth century visions of the French nun Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–90) to its continuing employment in worship today, the Devotion to the... read more »
Religion and Material Culture: The Matter of Belief
Religious belief is rooted in and sustained by material practice, and this book provides an extraordinary insight into how it works on the ground. David Morgan has brought... read more »
The Embodied Eye: Religious Visual Culture and the Social Life of Feeling
David Morgan builds on his previous groundbreaking work to offer this new, systematically integrated theory of the study of religion as visual culture. Providing key tools... read more »

Morgan, D. “Image.” Key Words in Religion, Media and Culture, 2008, pp. 96–110. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9780203894071. Full Text

Morgan, D. “Images of the Passion and the History of Protestant Visual Piety in America.” The Passion Story: From Visual Representation to Social Drama, edited by M. Kupfer, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008, pp. 131–45.

Morgan, D. “The Study of Religion and Popular Culture: Prospects, Presuppositions, Procedures.” Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular Culture, edited by G. Lynch, IB Tauris, 2007, pp. 21–33.

Morgan, D. “The Visual Construction of the Sacred.” Images and Communities The Visual Construction of the Social, edited by M. Stocchetti and J. Sumiala-Seppänen, Gaudeamus-Helsinki University Press, 2007, pp. 53–74.

Holloway, D., and J. Beck, editors. “Absent Fathers and Women with Beards: Religion and Gender in Popular Imagery of the Nineteenth Century.” American Visual Cultures, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005, pp. 39–47.

Morgan, D. “Manly Pain and Motherly Love: Mel Gibson’s Big Picture.” After The Passion Is Gone: American Religious Consequences, edited by J. S. Landres and M. Berenbaum, AltaMira Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, pp. 149–57.

Morgan, D. “Catholic Visual Piety and The Passion of the Christ.” Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics, edited by S. Brent, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, pp. 85–96.

Morgan, D. “Toward a Modern Historiography of Art and Religion.” Reluctant Partners: Art and Religion in Dialogue, edited by E. Heller, The Gallery at the American Bible Society, 2004, pp. 16–47.

Morgan, D. “Visual Media and the Case of Ethiopian Protestantism.” =Belief in Media: Media and Christianity in a Cultural Perspective, edited by M. Hess et al., Ashgate Publishing, 2004, pp. 91–106.

Morgan, D. “Protestant Visual Piety and the Aesthetics of American Mass Culture.” Mediating Religion: Conversations  in Media, Religion and Culture, edited by J. Mitchell and S. Marriage, T&T Clark, 2003, pp. 107–20.


Morgan, David. “Our Distance from God: Studies of the Divine and the Mundane in Western Art and Music.” The American Historical Review, vol. 113, no. 5, Dec. 2008, pp. 1478–1478. Manual, doi:10.1086/ahr.113.5.1478. Full Text

Morgan, David. “Seeing Things: Deepening Relations with Visual Artefacts.” Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, vol. 4, no. 2, 1 July 2008, pp. 237–38. Manual, doi:10.2752/175183408X328389. Full Text

Morgan, David. “[Book Review: The Internet and the Madonna: Religious Visionary Experience on the Web].” The Journal of Religion, vol. 86, no. 3, July 2006, pp. 509–10. Manual, doi:10.1086/507752. Full Text

Morgan, David. “Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture. By David Chidester. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. xii + 294 pp. $50.00 cloth; $19.95 paper.Church History, vol. 74, no. 04, Dec. 2005, pp. 897–897. Manual, doi:10.1017/S0009640700101295. Full Text

Morgan, David, and Paul Eli Ivey. “Prayers in Stone: Christian Science Architecture in the United States, 1894-1930.” The Journal of American History, vol. 88, no. 1, June 2001, pp. 217–217. Manual, doi:10.2307/2674978. Full Text


Morgan, D. “The materiality of cultural construction.” Material Religion, vol. 4, no. 2, Dec. 2008, pp. 228–29. Scopus, doi:10.2752/175183408X328334. Full Text

Morgan, D. “Exhibition review: The critical view.” Material Religion, vol. 3, no. 1, Dec. 2007, pp. 135–43. Scopus, doi:10.2752/174322007780095753. Full Text

Corrigan, J., et al. “Forum: Electronic media and the study of American religion.” Religion and American Culture, vol. 16, no. 1, Jan. 2006, pp. 1–24. Scopus, doi:10.1525/rac.2006.16.1.1. Full Text

Morgan, D. “Response to spackman, "reconsidering 'kitsch'".” Material Religion, vol. 1, no. 3, Jan. 2005, pp. 417–19. Scopus, doi:10.2752/174322005778053998. Full Text

Morgan, D. “Visual religion.” Religion, vol. 30, no. 1, Jan. 2000, pp. 41–53. Scopus, doi:10.1006/reli.1999.0228. Full Text

Morgan, D. “German character and artistic form: The cultural politics of German art theory, 1773-1814.” European Romantic Review, vol. 6, no. 2, Dec. 1996, pp. 183–212. Scopus, doi:10.1080/10509589608570006. Full Text


Fellowships, Supported Research, & Other Grants

Research & Travel Grant awarded by Stichting Porticus, Amsterdam (2004 to 2005)

NEH Humanities Fellowship awarded by National Endowment for the Humanities (2001 to 2002)

Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art and Humanities awarded by J. Paul Getty (1996 to 1997)

Pew Postdoctoral Fellowship in Religion and American History awarded by Yale University (1994 to 1995)

Spring 2021

Protestants and Pictures (ARTHIST 844.01)
Online ON, F 01:45 PM-04:15 PM

Fall 2020

Religious Material Culture (ARTHIST 911.01)
Online ON, F 01:45 PM-04:15 PM

Fall 2017

Catholic Visual Piety (ARTHIST 859.01)
Gray 094, F 01:25 PM-03:55 PM

Fall 2016

Religious Material Culture (ARTHIST 911.01)
Gray 094, F 01:25 PM-03:55 PM

Spring 2014

Religious Material Culture (ARTHIST 911.01)
Gray 220, F 01:40 PM-04:10 PM