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Author: Ying Zhang

Abstract

Approaching the prison as a creative environment and imprisoned officials as creative subjects in Ming China (1368–1644), Ying Zhang introduces a few important themes at the intersection of premodern Chinese religion, poetry, and visual and material culture. The Ming is known for its extraordinary cultural and economic accomplishments in the increasingly globalized early modern world. For scholars of Chinese religion and art, this era crystallizes the essential and enduring characteristics in these two spheres. Drawing on scholarship on Chinese philosophy, religion, aesthetics, poetry, music, and visual and material culture, Zhang illustrates how the prisoners understood their environment as creative and engaged it creatively. She then offers a literature survey on the characteristics of premodern Chinese religion and art that helps situate the questions of “creative environment” and “creative subject” within multiple fields of scholarship.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and the Arts

Abstract

In this volume, the relationship between Jews and media is not only vividly illustrated, but it is consciously drawn into the formation of modern Jewish history and modern media. Maya Balakirsky Katz addresses key Jewish-media intersections in which Jews and mass media implicated (or were implicated by) one another. In this study, Katz discusses the relationship that Jews have had with mass media forms of print, film, photography, advertising, and postcards within the periods that these media have gained cultural ascendancy. These historical moments are tethered to a broader conversation addressing the major theoretical issues at the center of the discourse on Jews and media. Bearing this mutually constructive relationship in mind, Intersections between Jews and Media offers both a tangible demographic portrait of the real Jews who entered mass media and lays a theoretical and methodological framework for more qualitative analyses.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and the Arts
Author: Eric Ziolkowski

Abstract

Religion and literature is the study of interrelationships between religious or theological traditions and literary traditions, both oral and written, with special attention to religious or theological underpinnings of, influences upon, and reflections in, individual “texts” (oral and written) or authors’ oeuvres. This overview considers the origins and history of, and methods employed in, that scholarly enterprise, focusing upon the dual construals of “literature” in religious studies (as a body of sacred writings and as writing valued for artistic merit); the problematics of defining “religion”; the transformation of theology and literature as a “field” (pioneered by Nathan A. Scott Jr. et al.) to religion and literature; the affiliated fields of myth criticism, and of biblical reception; and the institutionalization, globalization, and future of the study of religion and literature.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and the Arts
Barbara Kaminska’s Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Religious Art for the Urban Community is the first book-length study focusing on religious paintings by one of the most captivating Netherlandish artists, long celebrated for his secular imagery. In a period marked by a profound religious, economic, and cultural transformation, Bruegel offered his sophisticated urban audience complex biblical images that required an engaged, active viewing, not only sparking learned dinner conversations, but facilitating the negotiation of values seen as critical to maintaining a harmonious society. By considering the novelty of Bruegel’s panels used in convivia alongside his small, intimate grisaille compositions, this study ultimately shows that Bruegel renewed the idiom of religious painting, successfully preserving its ritualistic and meditative functions.
Author: Ori Z. Soltes

Abstract

In Modern Jewish Art: Definitions, Problems, and Opportunities, Ori Z. Soltes considers both the emerging and evolving discussion on and the expanding array of practitioners of ‘Jewish art’ in the past two hundred years. He notes the developing problem of how to define ‘Judaism’ in the 19th century—as a religion, a culture, a race, a nation, a people—and thus the complications for placing ‘Jewish art’ under the extended umbrella of ‘religion and the arts.’ The fluidity with which one must engage the subject is reflected in the broadening conceptual and visual vocabulary, the extended range of subject foci and media, and the increasingly rich analytical approaches to the subject that have surfaced particularly in the past fifty years. Well-known and little-known artists are included in a far-ranging discussion of painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation art, ceremonial objects, and works that blur the boundaries between categories.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and the Arts

Abstract

The relationship between religion and dance is as old as humankind. Contemporary methods for studying this relationship date back a century. The difference between these two time frames is significant: scholars are still developing theories and methods capable of illuminating this vast history that take account of their limited place within it. A History of Theory and Method in the Study of Religion and Dance takes on a primary challenge of doing so: overcoming a conceptual dichotomy between “religion” and “dance” forged in the colonial era that justified western Christian hostility towards dance traditions across six continents over six centuries. Beginning with its enlightenment roots, LaMothe narrates a selective history of this dichotomy, revealing its ongoing work in separating dance studies from religious studies. Turning to the Bushmen of the African Kalahari, LaMothe introduces an ecokinetic approach that provides scholars with conceptual resources for mapping the generative interdependence of phenomena that appear as “dance” and/or “religion.”

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and the Arts
Author: Urmila Mohan

Abstract

In Clothing as Devotion in Contemporary Hinduism, Urmila Mohan explores the materiality and visuality of cloth and clothing as devotional media in contemporary Hinduism. Drawing upon ethnographic research into the global missionizing group “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” (ISKCON), she studies translocal spaces of worship, service, education, and daily life in the group’s headquarters in Mayapur and other parts of India. Focusing on the actions and values of deity dressmaking, devotee clothing and paraphernalia, Mohan shows how activities, such as embroidery and chanting, can be understood as techniques of spirituality, reverence, allegiance—and she proposes the new term “efficacious intimacy” to help understand these complex processes. The monograph brings theoretical advances in Anglo-European material culture and material religion studies into a conversation with South Asian anthropology, sociology, art history, and religion. Ultimately, it demonstrates how embodied interactions as well as representations shape ISKCON’s practitioners as devout subjects, while connecting them with the divine and the wider community.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and the Arts
Author: Lieke Wijnia

Abstract

Beyond the Return of Religion: Art and the Postsecular explores the conceptual potential of the postsecular for investigations of (late) modern art and religion. Indicating a public co-existence and merging of religion and the secular, the postsecular is approached as an alternative to the return of religion narrative. Rather than framing artistic concerns with religion as a recurrence after temporary absence, it is argued how the postsecular allows for seeing the interaction between art and religion as enduring, albeit transforming relationship of mutual nature. Whereas secularization theories are intrinsically connected to modernity, the postsecular requires a pluralized perspective, covering the processes of secularization, diversification, and spiritualization. The postsecular reinforces the interconnectedness of these processes, which are, in turn, embodied in the concept’s interdisciplinary nature. While this essay predominantly focuses on visual art and its institutional context of the museum, the postsecular has interdisciplinary relevance for broader artistic and academic disciplines.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and the Arts
Author: Ira Livingston
Magic Science Religion explores surprising intersections among the three meaning-making and world-making practices named in the title. Through colorful examples, the book reveals circuitous ways that social, cultural and natural systems connect, enabling real kinds of magic to operate. Among the many case studies are accounts of how an eighteenth-century actor gave his audience goosebumps; how painters, poets, and pool sharks use nonlinearity in working their magics; how the first vertebrates gained consciousness; how plants fine-tuned human color vision; and the necessarily magical element of activism that builds on the conviction that "another future is possible" while working to push self-fulfilling prophecy into political action.
In Religion and the Arts: History and Method, Diane Apostolos-Cappadona presents an overview of the 19th century origins of this discrete field of study and its methodological journey to the present-day through issues of repatriation, museum exhibitions, and globalization. Apostolos-Cappadona suggests that the fluidity and flexibility of the study of religion and the arts has expanded like an umbrella since the 1970s - and the understanding that art was simply a visual exegesis of texts - to now support the study of material, popular, and visual culture, as well as gender. She also delivers a careful analysis of the evolution of thought from traditional iconographies to the transformations once scholars were influenced by response theory and challenged by globalization and technology. Religion and the Arts: History and Method offers an indispensable introduction to the questions and perspectives essential to the study of this field.