The Datafication of Religious Media: Pulpit Plagiarism and the Spiritual Commons in American Sermons

Presented by Dr Andrew Ventimiglia (TC Beirne School of Law, UQ)

Date: 13 October, 2017
Time: 3pm-4pm
Location: Room 601, Michie Building (#9)


Sermon-stealing, involving pastors who copy and recite another author’s sermons as their own, is a sign and symptom of the changing economy of sermon production in the digital era. The growth of online sermon databases and proprietary Bible software, which facilitates the widespread exchange of sermons, has created a wealth of resources for pastors to use when producing their own texts but has also increased concerns about plagiarism. This presentation explores the ethical debates surrounding sermon-stealing in the American evangelical homiletics community to demonstrate how pastors conceptualize the nature of ownership of the sermon in an era that, through trademarked church names, licensed worship music and live streaming services, has witnessed the increasing datafication, commodification, and propertisation of religious media. In doing so, it posits that the sermon is not produced by the same economic rationales that shape intellectual property law and is thus more amenable to new forms of collaboration, distributed authorship, and sharing online. 



Dr Andrew Ventimiglia works in the field of legal history, religious studies, and media studies, with a research focus on the history and cultural effects of intellectual property law. He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the TC Beirne School of Law attached to the ARC Laureate project 'Harnessing Intellectual Property to Build Food Security'. He was awarded his PhD in Cultural Studies from University of California – Davis in 2015, during which he conducted research into the intersection of religion and intellectual property law in the American spiritual marketplace. While at UC Davis, Dr. Ventimiglia also worked at the Center for Science and Innovation Studies and the Science and Technology Studies program. Dr. Ventimiglia additionally holds a Master of Arts in Cinema Studies and a Certificate from the Culture and Media Program from New York University.

Dr. Ventimiglia’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals Cultural Critique and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and his book Copyrighting God: The Mediation of the Sacred in Religion and Law is under contract with Cambridge University Press. His current research focuses on two interrelated subjects: 1) the growth of proprietary data infrastructures and technological innovations that structure the emerging field of precision agriculture; and, 2) the interplay between science, culture, and legal regulatory regimes like trademark and food safety law that collectively determine and define the ‘nature’ of food.

Dr Andrew Ventimiglia


About Research Seminar and Workshop Series

The research seminar and workshop series' occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

The seminars occur on a Friday afternoon from 3-4 pm in Room 601 in the Michie Building (#9).

Semester 2, 2017 Seminars & Workshops


Friday, 11 August

Technologies for the Analysis of Communication

Room 601, Michie Building (#9)

Dr Dan Angus

Friday, 18 August

Hotel October: The Deaths and Dates of Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin

Room 601, Michie Building (#9)

Prof. John Schad
(Department of English Literature and Creative Writing, Lancaster University)

Friday, 1 September

The Writer on the Road

Room 601, Michie Building (#9)

Dr James Cowan

Friday, 15 September

Birds of a feather? Trump, Chavez and the populist communication style in times of discursive disruption

Room 601, Michie Building (#9)

Dr Elena Block


Friday, 29 September

Making Hollywood Mobile: Labour in Global Film and Television Production

Room 740, Michie Building (#9)

Dr Kevin Sanson
(School of Communication, QUT)
Friday, 13 October

The Datafication of Religious Media:
Pulpit Plagiarism and the Spiritual Commons in American Sermons

Room 601, Michie Building (#9)

Dr Andrew Ventimiglia
(TC Beirne School of Law, UQ)
Friday 27 October

Cirrus: Innovative, Digitally Engaged Assessment for High Level Thinking

Room 601, Michie Building (#9)

Dr Natalie Collie, Dr Jennifer Clement, Kerry Kilner
Friday, 3 November

"The State of Fun": How Singapore's Fun Campaigns Legitimise an Emerging Casino Economy

Room 601, Michie Building (#9)

Dr Juan Zhang

Friday, 10 November

Historical Moods in Film

Room 601, Michie Building (#9)

Dr Robert Sinnerbrink
(Macquarie University)


Level 6, Michie Building (#9)