Print Culture Annual Lecture and Religion in Print Symposium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Annual Lecture: Erin A. Smith, Associate Professor, American Studies and Literature and Associate Director of the Gender Studies Program, University of Texas at Dallas.
“Reading, Heresy, and the Culture Wars: The ‘New Gnosticism’ and Spiritual Community”
Friday April 10, 2009, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Special Collections Library, 9th Floor, Memorial Library, 728 State Street, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
One Publishers Weekly headline in 2004 trumpeted: “The New Gnosticism: An Ancient Heresy is All the Rage.” At the time, Dan Brown’s thriller, The Da Vinci Code, had been at the top of the fiction bestseller list for over a year and Elaine Pagels’s Beyond Belief topped the nonfiction list. This lecture examines how one religious reading group affiliated with a large Unitarian-Universalist church appropriated these texts to create individual and collective religious identity narratives. Through book discussion, readers explored what it meant to be women in a patriarchal religious culture and what it meant to be embattled religious liberals in the Bible belt. These texts offered readers access to a suppressed history of women as spiritual agents and provided a roadmap for seeking enlightenment through spiritual practice rather than right belief. These ways of creating a usable religious past have profound consequences for contemporary cultural politics. Although reading these books (re)created oppositional, liberal religious identities for UUs, their ways of reading bore a striking family resemblance to evangelical ways with words.
This lecture is presented in conjunction with “Religion in Print: A Symposium and Exhibit,” curated by the Print Culture Society, http://specialcollections.library.wisc.edu/exhibits/.
The Religion in Print Symposium will begin at 2.00 PM and will feature the following speakers:
Dr. Ronald Troxel, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hebrew and Semitic Studies.
Dr. Troxel will speak on the Septuagint as a product of the "print culture" of its day: in the context of the editing and production of texts in the museum at Alexandria, Egypt..
Professor Donald Davis, Jr., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Languages and Cultures of Asia.
Professor Davis will speak on the long history of the Laws of Manu, a Hindu sacred text, including its history vis-ŕ-vis print culture and colonialism.
Professor Uli Schamiloglu, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Languages and Cultures of Asia.
Professor Schamiloglu will examine the relationship between printing and Islam in the Russian Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Professor Tom Dubois, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Scandinavian Studies.
Professor DuBois will speak on the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda both in relation to modern neo-pagans, including debates that arise regarding translation and editions.
A reception in the Special Collections Library will follow the speakers. The event is free and open to the public. All are welcome!
Co-sponsored by the Center for the History of Print Culture, the Print Culture Society, the UW Libraries, the Religious Studies Program, the School of Library and Information Studies, and the Friends of the Libraries.
Professor Christine Pawley
University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Library and Information Studies
Room 4234 Helen C. White Hall
600 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706
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