The Rice Gnosticism, Mysticism, and Esotericism Work Group, in association with the Religious Studies Department of Rice University, invites proposals for the upcoming conference “Holy Monsters, Sacred Grotesques,” to be held at Rice University in Houston, Texas, on October 25 - 27, 2013. We aim to create conversations on the impact of monstrosity and examples of the grotesque in discourse related to religion and the sacred in an interdisciplinary context. We therefore encourage scholars in fields that deal with such material, including history, gender studies, cultural studies, literature, anthropology, sociology, and art history, to join in our conversation.
The tendency to populate religious landscapes with non-human entities, literally demonize opponents, perceive monsters as existing in far-reaching geographical borders (e.g., “the East” in Medieval Europe), and decorate sacred sites with grotesques is a trait shared throughout innumerable traditions. Recently the term "monster studies" was coined to cover the recent works dedicated to monsters by such authors as John Block Friedman, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, and Asa Mittman, who have helped to provide a framework for the study of such phenomena, not only in religious studies but also in literature, art history, and history. Through this framework, monsters and grotesques have been revealed as important markers of marginality, social boundaries, liminality, identity, cultural borders, and the “Other.”
Papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length and should represent an intersection of the sacred (loosely construed) with a theme or object of monstrosity.
Please send a 300-word abstract, along with your name, institution, and year of study (if a graduate student) by May 17, 2013 to:
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