Religion and Sight - Louise Child

Religion and Sight - Louise Child

Setting Our Sights on Religion

Religion and Sight - Louise Child

Louise Child [+-]
Cardiff University
Dr. Louise Child is a lecturer in myth, ritual and film studies at Cardiff University, U.K. with research interests in altered states of consciousness including dreams, visions, mysticism, shamanism, and possession trance and their depictions in popular and indigenous films. She is a member of the British Association for the Study of Religion and has published on indigenous film in New Zealand for their journal. Her book Tantric Buddhism and Altered States of Consciousness: Durkheim, Emotional Energy and Visions of the Consort has recently been re-issued in paperback by Routledge. She is currently working on a second book project, Dreams, Vampires and Ghosts: Anthropological Perspectives on the Sacred and Psychology in Film and Television.
Aaron Rosen [+-]
Wesley Theological Seminary
Dr. Aaron Rosen is Professor of Religion and Visual Culture and Director of the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC. He was previously Senior Lecturer of Sacred Traditions and the Arts at King’s College London, where he remains a visiting professor. Rosen began his career teaching at Yale, Oxford, and Columbia Universities, after receiving his doctorate from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Art & Religion in the 21st Century, Imagining Jewish Art, and Brushes with Faith, and is at work on a monograph entitled The Hospitality of Images. His edited books include: Religion and Art in the Heart of Modern Manhattan; Visualising a Sacred City: London, Art, and Religion; and Encounters: The Art of Interfaith Dialogue. He regularly curates exhibitions and is the co-founder of the public arts project Stations of the Cross, which has been staged in London, New York, Washington, D.C., and Amsterdam.


Sight is both celebrated and denigrated in religion. In some contexts it is extolled as a source of knowledge and revelation. In others it is demonized as the road to illusion and idolatry. There is no single way that sight functions in religion, nor indeed a single way to study it. This edited volume brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines—religious studies, anthropology, art history, film, and philosophy— to shed light on how the sense of sight shapes, and is shaped by, religion. Case studies range across both place and time, from narratives about Medusa in ancient Greek religion to spiritual explanations of sleepwalking in the Enlightenment to rituals of spirit possession in contemporary Brazil. In order to shed light on interconnected issues, the essays are grouped into three sections, moving thematically from darkness into light: 1) Obscurity 2) Altered States 3) Illumination. The contributors seek to avoid some of the historical pitfalls of Western discourses that hierarchize the senses, and in particular privilege and separate sight from the other senses, imagining it as an unimpeachable source of empirical knowledge. They present the ways in which sight transgresses such constructions, whether by being creatively misleading or taking on tactile qualities. Viewed in the context of lived religious experience, sight surfaces in multiple, unbounded ways. In a theoretically rich and self-reflective introduction, the volume editors set the stage by asking questions at the core of our discipline: What do we see, and—just as importantly—how do we see, when we study religion?

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Child, Louise; Rosen, Aaron. Setting Our Sights on Religion. Religion and Sight. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 1-25 Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781797495. Date accessed: 14 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35743. Jul 2020

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