Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies Brent Plate recently participated in the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) World Congress held Aug. 23-29 in Erfurt, Germany. Plate was an invited respondent for a working group based in Europe that is examining “material text practices.”
Papers from international scholars covered topics from Aztec divination codes to Muslim African practices of “drinking the Quran” and Sikh rituals of ingesting the Guru Granth. The panels intersected with Plate’s ongoing work as president of the Society for Comparative Research in Iconic and Performative Texts.
Plate also recently co-edited a special issue of the journal CrossCurrents. Working with a group of writers teaching and publishing in creative nonfiction, Plate and his co-editor Brook Wilensky-Lanford explored the ways writing on topics in religious studies can be enhanced by creative writing.
As part of the issue, Plate offered his own essay, “Sticks and Stones: Watching the Jesus Film with Muslims,” as well an afterword titled “First-Person Plural: Nonfiction Religion Writing for All of Us.” In his comments in the afterword, Plate used the ideas of David Foster Wallace to rethink modes of written communication in scholarly settings. Plate said that “religion is creative nonfiction” and this fact becomes central to the academic understanding of religion itself.