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The Blog That Dares Not Speak Its Name: New Media and Collaborative Scholarship

Sunday, 1:00 PM–2:30 PM
McCormick Place West – 196B*

Kathryn Reklis, Fordham University, Presiding

This panel will explore engagements with new media as a potential horizon in the academic scholarship of religion both in terms of content (what is studied/written about), form (how it is studied/written), and audience (for whom it is studied/written). In particular, we will examine the interactive, ad hoc, immediate nature of blogging as a new form of collaborative scholarship and a form particularly suited to the analysis of and engagement with new objects of study. The panelists, all working in academic fields of theology or philosophy, converse about their collaborative work exploring the core questions of their disciplines and experimenting in new forms of transdisciplinary scholarship by writing a blog about popular visual culture together.

Natalie Wigg-Stevenson, University of Toronto
Martin Shuster, Hamilton College
Travis Ables, Eden Theological Seminary

Shelly Rambo, Boston University, Responding

Theological Aesthetics in "Chicago" Theology

Sunday, 1:00 PM–2:30 PM
McCormick Place South – 404BC*

Matthew Frost, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, Presiding

The label "Chicago School" in theology has been associated with a range of methodologies pioneered by Chicago-area institutions. Though this label more frequently conjures images of process metaphysics, Chicago scholars have played key roles in the development of pragmatism, empiricism, theology and literature, and the rise of history of religions as a discipline. These methods have had a strong impact on twentieth century theology and the study of religion, but analyses of "Chicago" theologies frequently miss the strong role played by art, music, architecture, literature, and cultural criticism — broadly, aesthetics — in the work of these Chicago scholars. Panelists will engage the audience in an examination of the implicit and explicit impacts of aesthetics in the Chicago context on the work of key figures such as Shirley Jackson Case, Bernard Meland, Nathan A. Scott Jr., and Joseph A. Sittler Jr., as well as their ongoing legacy for theology today.

Robert Saler, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago
Panu Pihkala, University of Helsinki
James M. Childs Jr., Trinity Lutheran Seminary
Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago

New Directions in the Study of Material Religion

Sunday, 1:00 PM–2:30 PM
McCormick Place South – 105A*

S. Brent Plate, Hamilton College, Presiding

Over the past fifteen years, the study of material religion has become an increasingly important subfield within the study of religion. This panel of papers examines new theoretical approaches to the study of material religion in ways that extend the growing interest in religious embodiment and the aesthetic regimes through which religious adherents engage with material and visual culture. These include understanding the significance of the multisensory embodied subject for religious practice, the role of networks of human and nonhuman actors, and the dialectical relationship between religious subjectivity and social and material change. The session also considers largely unresearched fields of material religion beyond conventional religious spaces and rituals, exploring the religious nature and significance of interactions between people and objects in the museum, home, and department store. In doing so, it opens up both new theoretical and methodological approaches for work in this field, as well as new possible sites of study.

David Morgan, Duke University
The Embodied Eye: Religious Visual Culture, Embodiment, and the Social Life of Feeling

Stephanie Berns, University of Kent
Sacred Connections: Visitor and Object Engagements in Museums

Gordon Lynch, University of Kent
Changing Homes: Domestic Material Cultures and New Religious Sensibilities in the Contemporary West

Nicole Kirk, Meadville Lombard Theological School
Wanamaker's Temple: Creating Sacred Space in a Department Store

Conflicting Social Imaginaries and their Impact on Human Freedom

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
McCormick Place West – 178B*

Nelly van Doorn Harder, Wake Forest University, Presiding

This panel will examine how different religious communities imagine the world. The focus is not primarily on conflicting social imaginaries between different religions, but rather on fundamental differences in the construction of reality by different communities within the same religious tradition. Clashes among Muslims, Christians, and other religious communities have often proved more deadly than clashes between different religious communities. Drawing on experience from Indonesia and elsewhere, the panel examines substantive, conflicting values in which different religious communities have different interests, values, and world views. The panel will consider the limited effectiveness of law enforcement in protecting equal rights in contexts of religious diversity. Human freedom is humanly constructed within real social, economic, and political conditions that are part of a long historical process, rather than being based on universal and eternal abstract principles. The rights of minority religious groups, women, and other marginalized groups are particularly contested in many parts of Indonesia and elsewhere, in which the social capital of the dominant religious tradition appears threatened by groups whose social imaginary differs from the majority. The panel will suggest ways in which conflicting interests and values can be negotiated "from below" rather than imposed on the basis of abstract principles from above.

Zainal Abidin Bagir, Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies
Bernard Adeney-Risakotta, Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies
Wening Udasmoro, Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies
Siti Syamsiyatun, Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies

Munir Jiwa, Graduate Theological Union
Heidi Hadsell, Hartford Seminary
Ebrahim Moosa, Duke University
Paul Knitter, Union Theological Seminary

Divination as Religious/Spiritual Practice

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
McCormick Place North – 427A*

Sarah Iles Johnston, Ohio State University, Presiding

Divination exists in all cultures and has been highly conserved throughout human history; given population expansion it is now practiced by more people than ever. The proposed session defines divination inclusively as diverse methods for seeking knowledge not attainable by normal means. It investigates the nature of divination across time, geography, and social strata as a response to the evolving religious and spiritual needs of humanity. Knowledge sought by divination includes not only personal life choices but also ritual propriety, the fate of the dead, the place of humans in the cosmos, and the nature of consciousness. Divination addresses many of the same concerns as religion but until recently has been relatively neglected in academic religious studies. The papers in this panel examine various forms of divination as means for meeting spiritual needs, including the Book of Changes, Nostradamus, ancient and modern astrology, and contemporary psychological reinterpretations.

Tze-ki Hon, State University of New York, Geneseo
Divination as Moral Philosophy: Hexagrams and the Genealogy of the Sages of the Yijing

Richard Smoley, Theosophical Society in America
Nostradamus and the Uses of Prophecy

Geoffrey Redmond, Center for Health Research
Not Yet Complete: The Persistence of Divination in the Modern World

Religion and Barbarism: Contemporary Discourses

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
McCormick Place West – 178A*

Marc Ellis, Baylor University, Presiding

This panel surveys contemporary religious uses of one of the most multifaceted terms to design otherness: barbarism. In the last century the term has evolved beyond its etymological meaning denoting non-Western foreignness. It has been also employed as an internal critique against Western civilization (barbarism of Nazism), as a positive attribute of the colonized in the context of affirmation of identities (barbaric Afro-Caribbean literature), and as a way to restrict the integration of transnational migrants to communities of the globalized West (barbarism of terrorism). This panel gathers panelists from diverse religious, disciplinary, and geographical backgrounds to explore contemporary religious enunciations of one of the most influential terms to design otherness.

Nancy Bedford, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Kurt Anders Richardson, Toronto School of Theology
Edith Szanto, American University of Iraq
Santiago Slabodsky, Claremont Lincoln University

Victoria Fontan, University for Peace, Responding

Religious Dress in the Ancient Mediterranean

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
McCormick Place South – 101A*

Kristi Upson-Saia, Occidental College, Alicia Batten, University of Sudbury, and Carly Daniel-Hughes, Concordia University, Presiding

Following the recent interest in dress among Classicists and New Testament scholars, this session will offer papers focused on the significance of religious dress in late antiquity. Specifically, we will investigate the social and symbolic meanings of early Christian dress to better understand how clothing and adornment developed as a topos within early church rhetoric, to appreciate how dress played a role in mediating social relationships, and to examine broader theoretical questions of how religious — whether ecclesial, lay, or ascetic — dress functioned in the church, household, and monastic environs. In short, we aim to better understand the ways in which dress imagery and performances were implicated in Christian identity and piety.

Ariane Bodin, University of Paris
Kate Wilkinson, Towson University
Maria Doerfler, Duke University
Arthur Urbano, Providence College
Andre Gagne, Concordia University

A Conversation around Themes from No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Sunday, 5:00 PM–6:30 PM
McCormick Place West – 181B*

Daniel Pals, University of Miami, Presiding

A panel of distinguished scholars of religion will interact with themes from No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education by Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen (Oxford University Press, 2012) and will comment on implications for the work of AAR members. Drawing on research that included conversations with hundreds of professors, administrators, co-curricular professionals, and students across the United States, No Longer Invisible argues that higher education as a whole can be improved by addressing six questions related to religion:

  • What should an educated person know about the world's religions?
  • What are appropriate ways to interact with those of other faiths?
  • What assumptions and rationalities — secular or religious — shape the way we think?
  • What values and practices — religious or secular — shape civic engagement?
  • In what ways are personal convictions related to the teaching and learning process?
  • How might colleges and universities point students toward lives of purpose and meaning?

Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago
R. Marie Griffith, Washington University
Amir Hussain, Loyola Marymount University

Critical Conversations on The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis Books, 2011)

Sunday, 5:00 PM–6:30 PM
McCormick Place West – 375B*

Raymond Carr, Pepperdine University, Presiding

Responses to James Cone's The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis Books, 2011). These papers address black theology and its American resonance by responding to America's history of violence.

Angela Sims, Saint Paul School of Theology
Dwight Hopkins, University of Chicago
James Noel, San Francisco Theological Seminary
Richard Hughes, Messiah College

James Cone, Union Theological Seminary, Responding

*Room locations are subject to change. Please check your Program Book onsite to confirm the location when you arrive at the Annual Meeting.


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