Summary of reading and lecture of the first half of the course: Material Religion

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Department
Religion
Course
RLG305H1
Professor
Simon Coleman
Semester
Fall

Description
th MATERIAL RELIGION – MID-TERM REVIEW NOTES: October 18 2011 Lecture 1: Introduction to Material Religion: Implicit to explicit • implicit: the implied meaning, not expressed • explicit: the apparent meaning, fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated meaning How to study materiality? • Relation between forms of materiality • words vs action, interconnected with lifestyles • what you say vs. what you do Abhorrence (repulsion) of materiality • religion vs the material • materials as distractions Material and belief (not vs belief) • central notion of belief • faith moving inward • belief that (propositional belief), belief in (trust in), implies another Lecture 2: The Sacred Gaze: David Morgan: • David Freedberg: studies relations between people and images, social engagements and relations • seeing as a form of practice, seeing needs an apparatus of assumptions we inherit from our culture • we learn how to see, the sacred gaze provides us with specific framing • sacred gaze: social (religious and cultural) act of looking with spiritual significance; includes aspects such as the viewer, fellow viewers, subject of viewing, context/setting, rules surrounding viewing (who can and who can't view it, dress etc) • examples of SG: Jagannath temple: only ethnics allowed to enter, yet the development of the internet allows anyone to see, extends the sacred gaze, temple vs internet version, how does religion matter? How do the different types of viewing effect the viewer and their response to the image • seeing: response and reception Readings: • Gordon and Hancock: -Reidnhard Bonnke, Evangelist who converted millions ofAfricans to X-tainity, image/sweeping pans of massiveAfricanAmerican crowds model visual ideology -communicates doctrine, visual experience of divine intervention -juxtaposition of many to few, allows for one to relate to the individual and their experience, have one of their own -branding of this image, to sell their beliefs, reputation, ability to mobilize resources • Schwartz: -how camera phones have led to religious change and redefinition of sacred time and place -camera phones have allowed tapings of experiences not everyone is privy to attend, having these images on the phone allow for one re-live the experience over and over and for others to see that they actually are -changes participation when filming due to not fully participating so one can film, transcends sacred time because you no longer are limited to when an activity is happening but anytime you whip out your phone Lecture 3: Making and Breaking of an Image: • iconoclasm: action of attacking or rejecting religious images, established values and/or practices -viewing negatively charged • idolatry: worship of idols or images • Monotheistic religions worry about the connection between the image and the deity – this is key when making/destroying -examples: 2 commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heavens” -concern with replication and likeness -Qur'an; cannot join partner with god • Turner: 'every symbol has a signifier and a signified' > objects (signifier) have attached meaning (signified) • iconoclasm is the response to destroy the signifier: could be considered purifying the meaning or a mediation between the divine and the self, this can from the belief that the image is more than image and possibly the actual • the breaking of images could cause a replacement of the image (new signifier) – image breaking as image makine • George: -Aniconic: religion without images -iconophobic: fear of images -iconoclasm: destroying images, Bruno Latour; types of breaking: smash, replace, redirect th th • Iconoclasm examples: Graves: 16 -17 century, attacks on images in England, destroying the hands and heads, treated as the criminals of the time were treated, punishment against dangerous matter Road screen: process of destruction, but still able to see what was once there, new art produced, making religion matter in a new way Taliban: destroying of the Buddha: western society sees it as pure destruction while they don't see it as vandalism because the image held power over them, therefore liberation Readings: • Qur'anic Art & Iconoclasm: George: • examples: Karl Lagerfeld, Jan 1994: Chanel models wearing a dress with Arabic script, 'they are rightly guided' (taken from their most scared text) dress was provocative and wording was on her bust -taken as intended to upset Muslims and provoke violence -Artist Pirous, 2002: his painting was damaged and has Qur'anic text, found offensive, he then edited all work to perfection, flawless writing, ethical pleasure to the viewer – not mutilating art, ethically enhancing • culture vs religion, transcultural intermingling encourages muslims to debate over qur'an in artwork • David Morgan: the social life of an image, image and deity as a single form of life, life within the image • images bring us to a cult of nationhood- statues, flags, locations etc, used in media • strong reactions to iconoclasm, reactions of fear and devotion, while leaving an image allows it to continue its claim to power • iconoclasm as a complex social phenomenon, the way in which is happens holds importance as well, can be seen as vandalism or in the case of avant- garde artist, as a spiritual renewment Lecture 4: Sacred Spaces: • 2 views of materiality & religion: -inside: varied views of materiality, from positive to negative -outside: religion exists through materiality, no matter what religious ideology • Spatial turn: 3 spheres of analysis : Sacred buildings, sacred landscapes (spaces between) and map
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