Theology and Its Publics

Workshop | March 10 | 9 a.m.-5 p.m. | 3335 Dwinelle Hall

 Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion

The workshop will compass two distinct, though often converging, lines of inquiry: first, the diverse publics to which theological discourse is addressed, and second, the theological dimensions inherent to various forms that the public and publicity can take.

The first line of inquiry begins with the recognition that the addressee of theological discourse is not only a specific person or people, but also a context of circulation, conceived as a public of readers, listeners, or viewers. In this regard, we hope to investigate how theologies take shape within mediated contexts—linguistic, discursive, and technological—that give shape to contemporary publics. How do theologies adopt characteristics of the publics to which they are addressed? How do the conditions of address shape the form and content of the theological imagination? What theological significance comes to be assigned to a “public” more generally?

The second line of inquiry turns the question around. If different theologies imagine different publics, this suggests that the “public,” and the social, political, and interpretive norms that constitute it, might well depend on theological traditions. How have theological concepts provided the scaffolding for the linguistic, discursive, and aesthetic protocols that underpin distinct public forms?

Workshop participants include:

Maria José de Abreu, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

Angie Heo, Assistant Professor of the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, University of Chicago

Kajri Jain, Associate Professor of Indian Visual Culture and Contemporary Art, South Asian Art and Visual Culture, University of Toronto

Kathryn Lofton, Professor of Religious Studies, American Studies, and History, Yale University

Charles Mathewes, Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Leigh Schmidt, Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis

Jonathan Sheehan, Professor of History, UC Berkeley and Director, Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion

Samuel Weber, Avalon Foundation Professor of Humanities at Northwestern University and co-director of its Paris Program in Critical Theory

Co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities.

The Berkeley Public Theology Program invites innovative thinkers and public figures to Berkeley to reflect on the past, present, and future of theological inquiry. Such lectures spark scholarly conversations on campus and place Berkeley at the center of global conversations on religion and public life.

Co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities.

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 All Audiences, 510-642-1328