did the Catholic figure Saint Nicholas transform into a holiday icon sporting a
red suit with flying reindeer? Learn more at a free lecture for grownups
offered by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Saint Nick to Santa Claus: A Christmas History” will begin at 6:30 p.m. on
Tuesday, Dec. 10, presented by Shanny Luft, an assistant professor in the
Department of Philosophy. Held in the Pinery Room of the Portage County
Library, 1001 Main Street, Stevens Point, the presentation is fourth of the
eight-part 2013-2014 Community Lecture Series sponsored by the College of
Letters and Science.
“I am fascinated by the invention of Santa Claus. What accounts
for his enduring popularity? My talk explores how a religious tradition gets
invented in the 19th century. It’s a story that weaves together writers,
artists, religion and commercial interests,” Luft said. “I want to make clear
to parents that this topic involves spoiler alerts, so it may not be appropriate
for the whole family.”
Luft came to UW-Stevens Point in 2008 and teaches Religion in
America, New Religious Movements, and Religion and Popular Culture. He has
given talks on topics ranging from the devil in film to the rise of the
religious right in American politics, and recently published an article on
Christians and video games. Luft earned a master’s degree in religion and
culture from Boston University and a Ph.D. in religion in America from the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The entire College of Letters and Science Community Lecture
Serious schedule and previously recorded videos may be viewed at www.uwsp.edu/cols/lectureseries.