Alda Balthrop-Lewis is a PhD candidate studying religious ethics and US culture and politics. She is especially interested in the circulation of ideas among theological, artistic, and popular idioms. Her previous research focuses on religion in twentieth-century American journalism and on the significance of ethnography and literature for thinking about how we can live together better. She conducted interviews on the Gulf coast about loss and grief after BP’s oil disaster at Deepwater Horizon in 2010, and ethnographic research about local environmental ethics in a small oyster town in 2014.
Her dissertation, “Thoreau’s Political Asceticism: Environmental Justice from Abolitionism to the Anthropocene” is about Henry David Thoreau, nineteenth-century author of Walden. Her work treats him as an ascetic practitioner drawing upon multiple religious traditions, and asks what the political implications of his ascetic practice are – both in his period and for contemporary environmental ethics.
She has worked for the Peabody Award-winning public radio program On Being, and she holds a MDiv from the University of Chicago and a BA in Religious Studies from Stanford University.