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March 2017
News and Events

Contents


01) TODAY | Pseudo-Arabic as a Marker of Christian Identity in Middle Byzantine Art and Architecture | Alicia Walker
02) March 13 | Spinoza's Tragic Resources | Russ Leo
03) March 14 | Mecca's Perspective as Symbolic Form | Avinoam Shalem
04) March 16 | Deadline for Summer Research Grants
05) March 22 | Keynote | The Study of Contacts Between Cultures: The Case of Sino-European Encounters in the Seventeenth Century | Nicolas Standaert

08) March 23-24 | Workshop | Translating Religion and Theology in Europe and Asia: East to West

All events are free and open to the public.
For more information, visit bcsr.berkeley.edu.

 
01) TODAY | Pseudo-Arabic as a Marker of Christian Identity in Middle Byzantine Art and Architecture | Alicia Walker

Co-Sponsored Event

Pseudo-Arabic as a Marker of Christian Identity in Middle Byzantine Art and Architecture

Alicia Walker, Associate Professor, Department of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College
Friday, March 10, 5-7pm
Doug Adams Gallery

"Things” can help us understand social identities, relationships, and practices in the medieval world, especially in situations where textual documentation is minimal or completely absent. This paper explores how pseudo-Arabic motifs on medieval Christian buildings and objects materialized social identities and spiritual authority among monastic communities across the eastern Mediterranean, thereby attesting to an interconnectedness that is only thinly documented in the written record. When contextualized within networks of religious, cultural, and political traffic, pseudo-Arabic “inscriptions” reify social affiliations and distinctions, although not always in a manner consistent with modern assumptions about linguistic identity in the medieval Mediterranean world. In Christian contexts, pseudo-Arabic could stand for the authority of ancient monastic communities in the Holy Land, a region where Arabic was not only the dominant colloquial language but also a language of Orthodox Christian theological discourse.

This event, part of the Dillenberger Lecture Series of the Graduate Theological Union, will be held at:

Doug Adams Gallery
2465 Le Conte Avenue
Berkeley, CA


02) March 13 | Spinoza's Tragic Resources | Russ Leo

Co-Sponsored Event
Spinoza's Tragic Resources

Russ Leo, Assistant Professor of English, Princeton University
Monday, March 13, 5-7pm

D37 Hearst Field Annex, UC Berkeley

Russ Leo will present his research on the intersections between poetic and philosophical experiments in Anglo-Dutch contexts across the 1650s, 60s, and 70s, particularly the ways one might place Milton and Spinoza in conversation. This involves attention to Spinoza’s contributions to literary culture in Amsterdam and the Netherlands at large, as well as his debts to poets and poetics. For instance, while historians of philosophy often overlook Spinoza’s debts to theater, and misunderstand attempts by the Dutch dramatic society Nil Volentibus Arduum to write philosophical tragedy in the spirit of Spinozism, attention to a tradition of philosophical tragedy (in Latin and Dutch, across the 17th century) makes these developments and their larger import clear. Such work enables us to see different continuities and discontinuities across the period, challenging assumptions about Enlightenment and modernity.

The event will be held at D37 Hearst Field Annex.

Sponsored by: The Department of English; the Townsend Center for the Humanities; The Program in Critical Theory; the Medieval Philosophy Working Group, and; the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion.


03) March 14 | Mecca's Perspective as Symbolic Form | Avinoam Shalem

BSCR Seminars in Art and Religion
Mecca's Perspective as Symbolic Form

Avinoam Shalem, Riggio Professor of the History of the Arts of Islam, Columbia University
Tuesday, March 14, 5-7 pm
470 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley

The “Sacred” and the “Holy” (haram in Arabic and, to some extent, al-quds or al-muqaddas), are Semitic words (see Herem and Kadosh in Hebrew) denoting the act of separation, parting, or setting aside, and imply the apparent human faculty of setting distinctive borders between holy and profane zones. Constrained to time, these spaces become chronotopes. But, whereas the sacred space appears as totally autonomous and linked to the eternal, the profane zone seems to exist as bound to historical time. This supposition results in assigning terms such as “common,” “habitual,” and “ephemeral to historic times, as opposed to “pure” and “intact” designating the “Holy” as linked to everlasting time. This lecture analyzes varied iconic visions of the Haram (the sacred sanctuary) of Mecca. A close and attentive gaze at the late medieval and early modern images of Mecca suggests a crucial change and shift in the mode of the depiction of the holy sanctuary. Moreover, the earlier flattened and two-dimensional images of the sanctuary, which, as I argue, contributed to the hierophany of the sacred and suggested its relic character, were replaced by perspectival images that evoked veracity and authenticity and fixed the sacred space within its larger geographic setting.


04) March 16 | Deadline for Summer Research Grants
 

Deadline: Summer Research Grants


Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) is offering summer research grants to advanced graduate students working on topics at the intersection of religion and ethics, broadly construed. The grant is supported by the Frank and Lesley Yeary Endowment for Ethics in Humanities, established to support research and scholarship in ethics. Grants range from $2,000 to $5,000, and are meant for summer research travel and related expenses. Applications are due by 4pm on March 16, and are welcomed from all UC Berkeley Ph.D. students who have advanced to candidacy, with preference given to those who are close to completion of their dissertations.
05) March 22 | Translating Religion and Theology in Europe and Asia: East to West Keynote Address | The Study of Contacts Between Cultures: The Case of Sino-European Encounters in the Seventeenth Century | Nicolas Standaert


Berkeley Public Theology Program

The Study of Contacts Between Cultures: The Case of Sino-European Encounters in the Seventeenth Century

Nicolas Standaert, Professor of Sinology, University of Leuven
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 5:00 - 7:00pm
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley

 

This is the keynote lecture of the Translating Religion and Theology in Europe and Asia: East to West event; see additional programming below.

This presentation takes theories of communication and philosophy of alterity as a starting point to study the methodology of the history of contact between cultures. It first discusses three different frameworks that have been employed in the study of the cultural contacts between China and Europe in the seventeenth century: the transmission, reception and invention frameworks. Next, the presentation proposes a fourth framework, the interaction and communication framework, which develops the previous frameworks by stressing the reciprocity in the interaction between transmitter and receiver and centers around the notion of “in-­betweenness.”


06) March 23-24 | Workshop | Translating Religion and Theology in Europe and Asia: East to West


Berkeley Public Theology Program

Translating Religion and Theology in Europe and Asia: East to West


Thursday, March 23 - Friday, March 24, 9am-6pm
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley


“Translating Religion and Theology in Europe and Asia: East to West” is a three-day workshop on the European reception of knowledge about East Asian thought, and most importantly how this reception shaped, and was shaped by, terms like “religion,” “theology” and “philosophy.” 

There was a time when stories about East Asian beliefs and practices fascinated Europeans as expressions of a prisca theologia, a true theology. As such, their differences from Christianity were productive both for those who wished to portray East Asian expressions as corrupted and inferior to European ones, but also for those who found in those differences the potential to enrich European thought, often in tandem with arguments in favor of tolerance and pluralism, or assertions about the limitations of understandings of the world that did not account for such differences. While much has changed in the last few centuries, discussions of East Asian religious traditions still often portray them as the expression of universal religious impulses, or assume that the common denominators of religion —be they deities, an “ultimate concern,” or an experience of the sacred – may be found in every culture... (more...)
By connecting scholars, students, and the global community, the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) fosters critical and creative scholarship on religion and activates this scholarship for students and the public at large.

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