CfP MLA 2023: Religio-Visual Cultures in the Digital Age

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    Elizabeth Scarlett
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    @escarlett

    How are various new media forms (e.g. apps, memes, gaming avatars, Webcast rites) creating performative representations of religion?  200-word proposals by March 15.  Manisha Basu, U of Illinois, Urbana (mbasu@illinois.edu ) Adrienne Brown, U of Chicago (adrienneb@uchicago.edu ).

    More information: How have visual digital forms supplemented religion in print form in the 21st-century? YouTube, Instagram, video games, and various apps combining visual-, verbal-, and sound-scapes are creating new media forms for performative representations of religion. Religious memes, video game avatars, Webcast rites, Zoom Mass, the Live Darshan App, the Confession App, Contactless Collection, and many others are evidence that religion and ritual are becoming increasingly embedded in digital spheres with a substantial visual component. Some argue from this foundation that the split between religiously and technologically driven societies is a false one. Others celebrate the whopping amounts investors are directing at faith-based apps. In any event, the unfolding relationship between religion and digitization is anything but seamless. This joint session of the Forums on Religion and Literature and Visual Culture aims to generate discussion about how the uneasy relationship between religion and cyberspace is changing the ways in which we conceive of both. One example that comes to mind involves the Darshan App. In Hinduism, the term darshan refers to an embodied encounter, ideally in the innermost sanctum of a temple, shared between devotee and deity. The devotee makes eye contact with the deity in image form and the latter is said to look back, so as to seal the moment of blessing as the former touches the feet of the deity. What happens when this experience is transported to disembodied cyber space? How do the two figures in this encounter hold each other’s eyes through the screen, what does it mean for the devotee to touch her deity’s feet on screen? 200-word proposals by March 15 to mbasu@illinois.edu  and adrienneb@uchicago.edu

    This topic was also posted in: MS Screen Arts and Culture.
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