Religion in Plain View: The Public Aesthetics of American Belief
Freitag 10. November 2017, 15 Uhr c.t., Prof. Huber-Platz 2, V 002.
In the United States the public display of religion is firmly lodged between the establishment and
free exercise clauses of the Constitution’s First Amendment. Public display of this sort is something
many people do and see. It is a constitutive, and frequently contested, dimension of American social
practice and visual culture. I center attention on religion’s visual and material embodiments and
enactments in the spaces we inhabit and traverse in the usual conduct of our daily routines. I have
in mind religious display of a particular, largely public, sort: display that is set out for generalized
others to see in the course of ordinary, everyday circumambulations of common spaces, spaces to
which everyone has easy visual access. Mine is not a statistical or quantitative study but examines
instead material religion’s modes of public address, the ways religion looks and works in public space.
I am speaking, in other words, about the aesthetics of religion in plain view.
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