Essays

Essays are narratives of varying lengths that engage in extended analysis of multiple images, objects, monuments, buildings, or spaces.

Conversations: An Online Journal of the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion

MAVCOR began publishing Conversations: An Online Journal of the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion in 2014. In 2017 we selected a new name, MAVCOR Journal. Articles published prior to 2017 are considered part of Conversations and are listed as such under Volumes in the MAVCOR Journal menu.

Essays Jamestown’s Relics: Sacred Presence in the English New World Christopher M. B. Allison

A remarkable reliquary helps us imagine new possibilities around the earliest English settlement in North America.

Essays Julian Voss-Andreae, Angel of the West Jonathan Schorsch

The power to protect against “nature” now dwells in the human scientific-technological skills mastered by a certain culture, whose prowess enables it to discover these new (meta)physical angels and harness their powers.

Essays Fabric of Devotion: William Quiller Orchardson’s The Story of a Life and Women Religious in Victorian Britain Ayla Lepine

Produced in a Christian tradition for the viewing pleasure of the London art world's cultured audiences, William Quiller Orchardson’s The Story of a Life alludes to the controversies and contentions of religious life and women’s roles in mid-nineteenth-century Britain.

Essays The Revolutionary Exhumations at St-Denis, 1793 Suzanne Glover Lindsay

The French Republic's July 1793 exhumation of the royal tombs intertwines not only contemporary religion and politics but also religious traditions with contemporary intellectual debate.

Essays The Politics of (Mere) Presence: The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee Guy Jordan

The old Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was not, it seems, meant to be seen at all. A yearning to blend in, be ordinary, unremarkable, even overlooked, would, as I later discovered, inflect the architectural presentiments of the old and new centers alike, and provide an apt metaphor for the struggles that have confronted the Islamic community in this small city in central Tennessee.

Essays Praying through the senses: The Prayer Rug/Carpet and the Converging Territories of the Material and the Spiritual Minoo Moallem

Consumption as a material practice changes religious meanings and practices, and value comes to be invested in certain religious objects, rituals, and ideas rather than others.

Essays Martin Puryear, Desire Bryan Wolf

The world of handmade objects and manual labor turns strange in Puryear's Desire, and in this way, the ordinary becomes—here is list of options, choose one—estranged, uncanny, defamiliarized.

Essays Art That Breathes: Lewis deSoto’s Paranirvana (self-portrait) Anya Montiel

Unlike its solid stone predecessor, deSoto’s work, made from painted polyethylene cloth, is hollow, filled only by air from a fan that keeps the sculpture inflated. The resemblance to the reclining Buddha is nonetheless remarkable, from the curls of hair to the folds of the robe, the one exception being that deSoto superimposed his own facial features, complete with goatee, on this Buddha.

Essays Repositioning Plautilla Nelli’s Lamentation Mary D. Garrard

My favorite underrated work of art is the Lamentation by Suor Plautilla Nelli (1523-1588), the first woman artist in Renaissance Florence with an oeuvre to go with her name. This large altar painting was created for the Dominican convent of Saint Catherine of Siena, where it stood, nearly ten feet high, on a prominent altar in the convent’s public church.