This site is a joint venture between Rice University’s Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning and the University of Kent, made possible through a generous Rice University Faculty Initiative Fund grant. Beginning in the fall of 2012, Dr. Anthony B. Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, and Dr. Gordon Lynch, Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology at the University of Kent—along with some of their graduate students—organized and participated in several workshops in both Houston (USA) and Canterbury (UK). During these workshops, they discussed various topics related to the study of religion and embodiment. This website, “Embodying Religion,” is one of the outcomes of this collaboration.
ESSAYS AND CASE STUDIES
Underscoring the centrality of the body has profound effects on the study of religion. Whether religion is understood as an “eminently social thing,” a process of rationalization, “the quest for complex subjectivity,” or a paradoxical experience of something “wholly other” that is terrifying and extremely attractive at the same time, bodies remain vital in religious studies and whatever might be deemed “religious experience.” As the essays on this website will show, focusing on the body’s relationship to some of the central categories of religion (ritual studies, theology, literature, and art are a few examples) will demonstrate how important our existence as flesh is to the study, the practice, and the experience of religion. Philosopher Rene Descartes once remarked that we could not be separated from our bodies. As you peruse the website, you will see that scholars of religion have come to take this comment seriously.
Primarily meant to introduce undergraduate students to the various and diverse topics and approaches to the study of religion and embodiment, this website contains short introductory essays on various themes, ranging from “the body” and “recognition” to “ritual” and “material culture,” and we’ve included several case-studies that explore topics such as “literature” and “sexuality” in more depth. In addition, this website offers an extensive annotated bibliography, which includes sources pertinent to the study of religion and embodiment.