Vernacular Theologies

Conference/Symposium | February 17 | 9 a.m.-5 p.m. |  UC Berkeley Campus

 Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion

The notion of “vernacular theology” has developed in reference to a body of Christian texts in vernacular languages that emerged during the late middle ages in lay or semi-lay circles. These texts and artifacts (music, images) address questions and practices of devotion, as well as theological issues and problems. They articulate positions outside of, and often in competition with, more official monastic or scholastic theologies. By doing so, they establish new modes of theological investigation, devotional theory and practice, and community-formation, often inspiring other theological movements that resonate far beyond the church and the monastery (from pietism to romanticism and decadence, aspects of modernism, and revolutionary movements). Finally, these vernacular theologies engage in and with a wide range of media (music, poetry, painting, up to video art), and not only to ‘illustrate’ certain ideas, but also to give theological ideas entirely new shapes inside these specific media.

In this workshop, we will ask whether, and how far, this idea of vernacular theology can find application beyond the bounds of medieval Europe, and beyond Christianity. How does theology unfold in various traditions outside the main channels of institutionally authorized discourses? What are the specific stakes and the media that are used? What kinds of community-shaping forces are being mobilized in and through vernacular theologies? How does this recast our understanding of theologies and the function of theological imagination outside of normative and authorized frameworks? And how might the study of other “theologies” reshape the frameworks we use to understand the Christian?

Program forthcoming. Registration is required to receive pre-circulated materials. To register, please contact info.bcsr@berkeley.edu.

This is a two-day event beginning on Thursday, February 16, and ending on Friday, February 17.

 info.cir@berkeley.edu, 510-642-1328