Object Narratives

Object Narratives explicate religious images, objects, monuments, buildings, or spaces in 1500 words or less.

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.

Object Narratives Virtual Meditation Cushion (Zafu) Gregory Price Grieve

What does a virtual meditation cushion tell us about material and visual cultures of religion?

Object Narratives Ex-Votos, Shrine of St. Roch, New Orleans Stephanie Bilinksy

Ex-votos at the Shrine of St. Roch occupy a complex place within conceptions of New Orleans as the subject of Protestant fascination with exoticized material aspects of Catholic practice.

Object Narratives Carte-de-visite Photograph of Maximilian von Habsburg’s Execution Shirt Eleanor A. Laughlin

The carte-de-visite of Maximilian von Habsburg’s shirt satisfied a sensational interest in the political event and served as a mourning object, offering the living both visual and tactile connections to the deceased to aid in the grieving process.

Object Narratives George Martin Ottinger, Aztec Maiden Breanne Robertson

Utah artist George Martin Ottinger painted Aztec Maiden during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when numerous theories proliferated about the history and origins of indigenous American civilizations.

Object Narratives Our Lady of Cocharcas Emily Engel

Material objects, including a group of documentary paintings of Our Lady of Cocharcas, recall the processes by which ancient Andean pilgrimage traditions became deeply integrated into late-colonial socio-religious consciousness.

Object Narratives Mask with Superstructure Representing a Beautiful Mother (D'mba) Frederick John Lamp

What is the meaning of the word "spirit" in Africa?

Object Narratives William Vander Weyde, Leon F. Czolgosz, McKinley Assassin Lindsay Reckson

Early debates around the use of the electric chair pivoted on the convergence of state and divine power.

Object Narratives The Balvanera Escudo Cristina Cruz González

Nun's badges worn in colonial New Spain not only articulated a woman’s religious affiliations, family fortune, and ethnic purity but also expressed her desire to influence political opinion.

Object Narratives Adonai/Adidas T-Shirt Anne Grant

The t-shirt’s appropriation of a multinational sportswear corporation’s logo into a sacred Hebrew name for God could be simply a clever play on words, but a more critical approach might take into account the commodification of this sacred name for the deity and its subsequent selling in the marketplace for profit.

Object Narratives C. C. A. Christensen, Joseph Preaching to the Indians Nathan Rees

Although LDS doctrine esteemed Native Americans as literal descendants of the peoples of the Book of Mormon, relations between Mormons and Indians in Utah grew increasingly strained as resources became scarce. Christensen’s work reflects this divided perspective.

Object Narratives Portable Altar of Countess Gertrude Crispin Paine

The portable altar seems to have developed in the missionary world of the seventh century, to meet the Church's requirement that Mass be celebrated only on a consecrated altar—a requirement that strengthened the position of bishops, who alone could consecrate them.

Object Narratives Thomas Eakins, The Crucifixion Akela Reason

In his 1880 The Crucifixion, Thomas Eakins, a reputed agnostic, crafted a realist interpretation of one of the central devotional subjects in Christian art, challenging the traditional iconography of the crucifixion by eliminating all signs of divine presence.