Scholar Jean Bethke Elshtain Explores Moral Worlds of Batman and St. Augustine in Lecture Hosted by Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion

Sept. 20, 2012
Dark KnightJean Bethke Elshtain (Courtesy Photo)

Media Contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

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WACO, Texas (Sept. 20, 2012) -- "The Dark Knight and the Saint: Reflections on Batman and St. Augustine" will be the topic of a lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 25, by Jean Bethke Elshtain, Ph.D., Visiting Distinguished Professor of Religion and Public Life in Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.

In the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre, a number of commentators condemned the film The Dark Knight Rises or raised questions about the role it allegedly played in bestirring the shooter to violence.

In her lecture, hosted by Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion, Elshtain will explore the moral world of Gotham City and the late Roman Empire through the lens of Batman and St. Augustine. She will argue that condemning the film for rousing the shooter to action is a terrible misunderstanding of Batman's moral world and that St. Augustine "pierces through the darkness and assists us in orienting ourselves to the light" -- as does Batman amid moral ambiguity.

The lecture will be at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Baylor Sciences Building, Room D110 at 101 Bagby Ave., Waco.

Elshtain is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; she has been a Guggenheim Fellow; a Fellow at the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation; the holder of the Maguire Chair in Ethics at the Library of Congress; a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, and a member of its Board of Trustees. In 2002 she received the Goodnow Award, the highest award bestowed by the American Political Science Association. She has served on the Board of the National Humanities Center and the President's Council of Bioethics. She is a member of the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Scholars Council of the Library of Congress.

For more information or to register, contact (254) 710-7555.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Launched in August 2004, the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) exists to initiate, support and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning history, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, theology and religious studies. Its mandate extends to all religions, everywhere, and throughout history, embracing the study of religious effects on prosocial behavior, family life, population health, economic development and social conflict. While always striving for scientific objectivity, ISR scholars treat religion with the respect that sacred matters require and deserve.

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