Sensing the Sacred Conference: 21st-22nd June 2013

Praying hands

We have an exciting conference coming up at York next year, on the theme of Sensing the Sacred: Religion and the Senses 1300-1800. The confirmed keynote speakers are Chris Woolgar (University of Southampton),
Nicky Hallett (University of Sheffield) and Matthew Milner (McGill University), covering the medieval period, Renaissance, and eighteenth-century between them. Have a look at the conference website for more details, or after the jump for the Call for Papers.

Radha festival

The burgeoning field of sensory history offers a fertile ground for reconsideration of religious studies across disciplinary boundaries. We welcome papers from anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians, historians, literary scholars, musicologists, philosophers, theologians, and any other interested parties. Possible topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Synaesthesia: how do religious rituals blur sensory boundaries, and challenge sensory hierarchies?
  • Iconography and iconoclasm: how might we conceive the ‘rites of violence’ in sensory terms? How does iconography engage the non-visual senses?
  • The senses and conversion: how are the senses used to elicit conversion?
  • Material cultures of religion: what role do the senses play in mediating between bodies and sacred objects?
  • The senses and gender: are sensing practices gender specific?
  • The inner (spiritual) senses: how do they relate to the external (bodily) senses?
  • Sensory environments: to what extent do environments shape devotional practices and beliefs, and vice versa? How do we use our senses to orient ourselves in space?
  •  Affect: what role do the senses play in the inculcation of religious affect?

Proposals (max. 300 words) for papers of 20 minutes are welcomed both from established scholars, and from postgraduate students. Applications from panels of three speakers are encouraged, as well as individual proposals. They should be sent to conference organisers Robin Macdonald, Emilie Murphy, and Elizabeth Swann at by 6pm on 5 November 2012.

We are keen to hear your views on what we post here. Questions and comments are very welcome. And if there's something you think we should write about, leave a comment or send us an email (

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