Conference Dispatch: 2018 Preaching as Performance

2018 Preaching as Performance, October 26-28, Calgary, Alberta.

By: Kyle Byron (University of Toronto)

In October of 2018, the Department of Classics and Religion at University of Calgary, in conjunction with the biannual meeting of the Collectif d’Anthropologie et d’Histoire du Spirituel et des Affects, hosted an interdisciplinary conference titled Preaching as Performance. The goal of the conference was “to foster research on the anthropology and history of religious teaching and public communication by providing an occasion for the interdisciplinary and comparative analysis of preaching as a performance event,” focusing specifically on “the way preaching uses theatrical, material, sensory, linguistic, and affective resources to produce religious sentiment, form religious subjects, and transmit doctrinal messages.” The conference’s 28 presenters included anthropologists, historians, religious studies scholars, and dramatists. While the call emphasized that preaching as a form of performance cuts across religious traditions, roughly two-thirds of the conference’s presenters focused on the Christian tradition. Nonetheless, the conference was historically and geographically diverse, with presentations on preaching traditions in Canada, China, France, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Japan, Nigeria, and the United States.  Continue reading

Burrow-Branine, “Blogging while gay and Christian”

Burrow-Branine, Jonathan. 2015. “Blogging while gay and Christian: Andrew Sullivan and the production of the religious, secular, and sexual.” Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal. DOI:10.1080/14755610.2015.1019897 

Abstract: This article examines blogger and political pundit Andrew Sullivan’s performance of gay Christian identity through his weblog, The Dish. Through a reading of the repetitive and collaborative nature of The Dish as a medium of cultural production, I argue that Sullivan’s gay Christian performance is made legible by how the religious and secular are articulated and negotiated through the site of the body in American culture. Sullivan’s performance both reproduces and resists religious and secular normativities while at the same time produces a singular identity with distinct political and social advantages. Among other advantages, examining how the religious and secular are articulated through everyday discourse and embodied performance exposes some of the political investments in this articulation and provides a space to consider the stakes of scholars’ own investments in ‘secular’ knowledge.