In talking to Amy DeRogatis, I wanted her to explore the question of genre and of the role of both teaching and community outreach in Saving Sex: Sexuality and Salvation in American Evangelicalism. I had spoken with her previously about some of the joys and challenges of writing for a broader audience and wanted to ask her to reflect publicly on those challenges. She was gracious.
What audience did you hope to reach?
My hope is that I reach a wide audience of my peers and the interested general public. Two aspects of my professional life and my institutional context have shaped me as a scholar and informed my writing of this book. I have taught at Michigan State University for 16 years and during that time I have primarily worked with undergraduates. As I wrote this book, I kept them in mind, reflecting on the types of books that work well in my classroom and the lessons I have learned from my students about presenting challenging material and initiating fruitful discussions. I hope I have written the kind of book that will engage undergraduates and inspire meaningful conversations and further research. The second important aspect of my professional life is that Michigan State is a land-grant university and outreach to the community is an important part of my job. Over the years I have devoted a considerable amount of my time to speaking with local religious and non-religious groups, translating my research to interested members of my community. I’ve enjoyed these opportunities and valued the responses I have received from the general public. These interactions have made me a better scholar and writer and I hope that I have provided a useful service to my community. Both of these aspects, that I primarily work with undergraduates and that I have devoted a lot of time to outreach, came into play as I thought about the type of book I wanted to write. I would like conversations about my book to happen in classrooms and coffee shops. I hope that I have struck the right balance between addressing some significant scholarly issues about American evangelicalism and sexuality and offering my own unique contribution while at the same time inviting interested non-specialists into the conversation.