Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Braiterman, Zachary J.

Second Advisor

Hamner, M. Gail


Aesthetics, Digital, Philosophy, Technology, Transversal, Virtual

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Philosophy | Religion | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation uses resources from religious studies to critique the problem of digital dualism haunting notions of the "virtual" in the discourse of contemporary virtual reality technologies (VR). Digital dualism is the idea that digital or "virtual" worlds are fundamentally distinct from the "real" or physical world. Digital dualism is a problem because it mischaracterizes how we experience the spatial and temporal connections to our body in digital-virtual worlds and contributes to a false sense of subjective singularity rather than multiplicity that destabilizes how we relate to ourselves and others. Using the study of religion, philosophy, and aesthetics, we can better understand the effects and consequences of contemporary VR, specifically as they relate to notions of human embodiment, experience, and subjectivity that assume essential differences between mind and body. My fundamental contention is that VR should be conceived—like experiences deemed "religious"—as technology that catalyzes connections to oneself and one's lived reality that feel (and can be acted upon as) true and ethically crucial. The result is a project that takes seriously the embodied experiences of VR and lays a foundation for seeing and critiquing the implicit ways religious modalities inform VR as a field of subject formation; especially in how one perceives one's connection to one's own body and world temporally as much as spatially.


Open Access