Since I received news that my abstract was accepted for the Joss Whedon and Theology book, I thought I’d post my abstract in the hopes that it would generate some helpful comments.
‘Religious Selving in Dollhouse‘
The short-lived television series Dollhouse is about the question of identity — both whether one still possesses one’s original identity after it being removed and also whether one’s identity is singular. I think the second issue is the more interesting one through which to view Dollhouse because it provokes thoughts on the construction of identity. In particular, can one be both religious and non-religious (even ‘secular’)? What is the self if it is a collection of identities? Is it singular? Multiple? These last two questions highlight the struggle to maintain several identities — as all humans do — while still maintain them together as a single self.
I wish to explore the tension between multiple identities as a theological and social issue. By looking at dialogues of religious pluralism, ecumenism, and dual religious practitioners (e.g. Buddhist Christians), I shall argue that identity is always a collection of identities in which many different, and perhaps even competing, ‘selves’ construct an individual. Here is where Dollhouse comes into focus because, as the later part of the series explores, Echo becomes analogous for humanity precisely at the point that she begins to see herself as something other-than-human and as a collection of humans. As Echo tries to find echoes of herself throughout the series, this image can be applied both to individuals as they find echoes of themselves and to universal identities such as religion as practitioners find echoes of their faith everywhere (cf. the various Finding God in… books).