Religious Materiality and Emotion

Julie Hotchin's picture
Call for Papers
February 16, 2016 to February 18, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

We are pleased to announce an interdisciplinary conference on Religious Materiality and Emotion hosted by the Centre for the History of Emotions, The University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia, on February 16-18, 2016.

Materiality plays a vital role in cultivating, shaping and directing religious emotions. Pilgrimage and public ritual, private devotional practices, the use of space and settings in which religious activities take place, and bodily posture and movement all arouse, shape and direct religious feelings. The recent critical interest in the role of material culture in religion has been paralleled by the attention in emotions studies to the exploration of affective relationships between beings and things, and the role of the material in eliciting emotional responses. Yet the interplay between materiality and emotions in religion has received less attention, especially within an historical context.

This symposium will integrate these strands of research by exploring the ways in which the material – such as objects, space, the body and sensory perception – stimulated, shaped and informed the emotional dimensions of religion.

Keynote speakers:

Professor Monique Scheer, University of Tübingen,

Professor Miri Rubin, Queen Mary, University of London

Charles Zika, The University of Melbourne.


Call for Papers:

We now invite abstracts for papers (20 minutes in length) that address the relationship between religion, materiality and emotion within a European context between 1200 and the present day. Papers that address the symposium theme from non-Christian traditions would be particularly welcome. Within the broader conference theme potential and welcome areas of inquiry may be, but are not limited to:

-              how religious imagery conveyed emotional messages and desired emotional dispositions

-              how objects, embodied practices and space were used to convey, amplify, transmit or diminish emotions within religious settings

-              the role of the material in generating religious identities and emotional communities

-              the dynamics between the material and emotions in encounters between adherents to different religions, religious conflicts or conversion

-              exploring relationships between particular objects or practices, and individual and collective religious emotions

-              how assumptions of gender inform interactions with religious objects and shape devotional practices and the emotions they arouse

-              the interplay between the material and emotions in power relations

-              the appropriation of religious imagery or objects by political regimes to mobilise and direct specific emotions

-              the role of the senses of cultivating religious feelings. Which senses were privileged and which diminished, and how did this affect the nature of emotional experience?

-              the emotions associated with the rejection of the material through renunciation or asceticism.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words, and a short biography, should be emailed to both Julie Hotchin,, and Claire Walker, by the deadline of the 31 October. Questions or queries can also be addressed to the above.

Important dates:

Call for Papers:                                  31 October

Notification of Acceptance:         15 November

The symposium will commence on the evening of Tuesday 16 February with a Public Lecture, and will run on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 February 2016.

This symposium is organised by Julie Hotchin, Visiting Fellow, School of History, The Australian National University, and Claire Walker, Senior Lecturer, Department of History, The University of Adelaide.

Contact Info: 

Julie Hotchin, Visiting Fellow, School of History, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University

Claire Walker, Senior Lecturer, Department of History, School of Humanities, Faculty of Arts, The University of Adelaide