Narrative Cultures and the Aesthetics of Religion

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Narrative Cultures and the Aesthetics of Religion presents the aesthetics of narrativity in religious contexts by approaching narrative acts as situated modes of engaging with reality, equally shaped by the immersive character of the stories told and the sensory qualities of their performances. Introducing narrative cultures as an integrative framework of analysis, the volume builds a bridge between classical content-based approaches to narrative sources and the aesthetic study of religions as constituted by sensory and mediated practices. Studying stories in conjunction with the role that performative acts of storytelling play in the cultivation of the senses, the contributors explore the efficacy of storytelling formats in narrative cultures from ancient times until today, in regions and cultures across the globe.

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Dirk Johannsen, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Cultural History at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo. His research interests include popular religion in the nineteenth century, literature and religion, cognitive approaches, and trolls.

Anja Kirsch, Ph.D., is a post-doctoral researcher in the study of religions at the University of Basel and visiting professor at the University of Bern. Her research interests include narrative theory and the relation of religion and politics in modernity.

Jens Kreinath, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the Department of Anthropology at Wichita State University, USA. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on interreligious relations in Hatay, Turkey. His research interests include ritual semiotics, visual culture, and material religion.

Contributors are: Stefan Binder, Arianna Borrelli, Markus Altena Davidsen, Laura Feldt, Ingvild Sælid Gilhus, Dirk Johannsen, Jens Kreinath, Isabel Laack, Martin Lehnert, Brigitte Luchesi, Bastiaan van Rijn, Caroline Widmer, Annette Wilke, Katharina Wilkens.
Contents
Preface Dirk Johannsen, Anja Kirsch and Jens Kreinath
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors
Narrative Cultures and the Aesthetics of Religion: An Introduction Dirk Johannsen and Anja Kirsch

Encounters: Vernacular Religious Storytelling


1 One Ritual—Many Stories: On Making Sense of a Hindu Ritual Brigitte Luchesi
2 Narrating Spirit Possession Katharina Wilkens
3 How to Sense a Ghost: On the Aesthetics of Legend Traditions Dirk Johannsen
4 Studying Religions as Narrative Cultures: Angel Experience Narratives in the Netherlands and Some Ideas for a Narrative Research Program for the Study of Religion Markus Altena Davidsen and Bastiaan von Rijn

Identities: Narrating and Counter-Narrating Gods and People


5 Feeling Narrative Cultures: Analyzing Emotions in Religious Narratives with Examples from Old-Babylonian Ninurta Myths Laura Feldt
6 Aztec Pictorial Narratives: Visual Strategies to Activate Embodied Meaning and the Transformation of Identity in the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2 Isabel Laack
7 Transmedial Narrative Cultures: Upanishadic Spirituality in the Indian Tele-Serial ``Upanishad Ganga'' Annette Wilke
8 Storytelling and Mediation: The Aesthetics of a Counter-Narrative of Atheism in South India Stefan Binder

Arts: Narrative Craft Beyond Words


9 Braiding Ropes, Weaving Baskets: The Narrative Culture of Ancient Monasticism Ingvild Sælid Gilhus
10 Immersing in the World of Radha and Krishna: Visual Storytelling in the Context of Religious Practice Caroline Widmer
11 Foundational Narratives in Chan/Zen Buddhism and the Observation of the Ineffable: Two ``Public Cases'' (gong'an/kōan) of the Gateless Barrier of Chan Lineage Martin Lehnert
12 Poetic Imagination in Scientific Practice: Grand Unification as Narrative Worldmaking Arianna Borrelli
13 What Happens When the Story Is Told? Reflections on the Aesthetics of Narrative Worldmaking and Aesthetic Sensation—Afterthoughts Jens Kreinath
Index
All interested in theory and method in the study of religions, transregional and comparative studies of narrative cultures, specialists and post-graduate students in the study of religions and comparative literature.