Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies S. Brent Plate recently gave presentations on religion, culture and aesthetics in New York, Madrid and Texas.
At Fordham University’s Center for Religion and Culture, Plate was the guest speaker for the Duffy Conversations. The topic of the evening was pilgrimage, and Plate discussed his time on the Camino de Santiago and what pilgrimage might mean in a secular age. Some of his ideas also appeared in his recently published e-book By the Way.
At Madrid’s Complutense University, Plate presented “A History of Religion in 5½ Objects,” based on his 2014 book of the same name. The invited talk was presented to the Institute for the Science of Religions, an interdisciplinary program that brings together scholars to examine the place of religion in human life.
A History of Religion in 5½ Objects was also the topic of presentations at the Institute for Spirituality and Health based at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. In conjunction with the Yoga Institute, Plate gave a presentation on his book and then ran a workshop on the topic of sacred objects, the senses and healing.
The workshop extended Plate’s research in material religion further into the realm of health and well-being. Plate worked with students to develop ways to use drumming in therapeutic circles. He also explored how attention to the senses can lead to a number of good health practices.
At Trinity University in San Antonio, Plate participated in the Study of Religion as an Analytical Discipline annual meeting, responding to two papers on “Media and Transmission in the Aesthetics of Religion.”
Also in San Antonio, Plate was involved with the American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual meeting where he organized and presided over a panel on the bicentennial of the American Bible Society. He was also a respondent to a set of Anthropology of Religion section papers on “Devotional Labor and the Materiality of Ritual Production.
In addition, Plate continued his work as jury member for the AAR Religion and the Arts award. He presided over a conversation with this year’s awardee Shahzia Sikander, a multidisciplinary artist who recently won a MacArthur grant. Exiled Pakistani journalist Raza Ahmad Rumi was included in the conversation and helped set the context for aesthetic and political relations between Pakistan and the United States.