Andrew Walker-Cornetta is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Religion (Religion in America) and a certificate candidate in Princeton’s Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.
His research focuses upon the intersecting histories of religion and medicine in the United States, with particular attention to cultural constructions of cognitive difference.
His dissertation, “Spiritual Rehabilitation: A Religious History of Intellectual Disability in Postwar America,” explores how many Americans made and remade conceptions of what was formerly known as “mental retardation” in the Cold War era through the braiding of religious and medical discourses. With attention to sources from professional medicine, to popular memoir, to institutions for persons with disabilities, his project highlights how social actors conveyed these forms of difference, and persons labelled accordingly, as generative resources for the articulation of their own moral identities. In doing so, his project addresses a series of broader questions about the evaluation of bodily differences within the conditions of a secular age.
At Princeton, Walker-Cornetta has taught in both the Department of Anthropology (“Disability, Difference, and Race”) and the Department of Religion (“Cult Controversies” and “American Scriptures”), where, in 2018, he was awarded the Department Teaching Award.
He has received multiple prizes, including two fellowships from Princeton’s Center for the Study of Religion and a research grant from the University of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. This year he holds a Laurence S. Rockefeller Graduate Prize Fellowship in Princeton’s University Center for Human Values and is an honorary dissertation fellow at the Louisville Institute.
Prior to coming to Princeton, Walker-Cornetta completed degrees in religious studies at New York University (M.A.) and Indiana University (B.A.) and managed a day services program for adults with disabilities in Indianapolis, Indiana.