Religion and the Arts solicits essays for a special issue on the relationship between religion, memory, and art. Whether through ritual and liturgy, sacred arts and objects, or narrative imperatives, borders between religious and secular meet in memory. Epigenetics and intergenerational trauma/imprinting, as well as DNA and archival searches for origins, compete with and complement ancient discourses of karmic reincarnation and the necessity for repetition. Continuity depends on the “memorial” for which art serves as sine qua non. From the poetic elegy and other elegiacal writing to sculpture, the funerary arts including urns and textile, and the requiem to the posthumous portrait, art and memory act as respective substituents that circulate in resistance to the finite and celebrate continuity achieved, collective and individual. From mourning jewelry and wardrobes to repurposed found objects, historical preservation, and gentrification, all give form to lacrimae rerum, the tears of things – those scenes of fallen Troy that Aeneas glimpses on Carthaginian walls in Virgil’s epic. Whether Wordsworthian “emotion recollected in tranquillity” or legacies outside ourselves that we inherit, memory and civilization, ritual and mythology, become the religion of secular life in all its sanctity.
Ceramicist/memoirist Edmund de Waal writes, “It is not just things that carry stories with them. Stories are a kind of thing, too. Stories and objects share something, a patina.” Religion creates a vitrine for holding memory, history, narrative, and identity. It showcases them, potentiating both gaze and tactile engagement. Memory praxis sanctifies and sacramentalizes the mundane. As memory studies have expanded to postmemory and even prosthetic memory, art and/as religion are conjoined. Memory is queer art that is distinct from biological begetting as Platonic spiritual procreation. The art-ificial line of descent or shared community of belonging makes all work of memory creative. We re-member that which is lost or subject to time, the literal and figurative cultural production of making something of the past, one’s own or otherwise.
We seek innovative explorations of the relationship between memory, the arts of all kinds, and religion understood both traditionally and counterintuitively. Digital memory and creation, photography/videography, secularism reconceived through material culture, and new rituals for remembrance will be considered. Public and private, ordained and vernacular, means of memory are within this scope. We solicit articles and reviews comparative and particular; on western and nonwestern topics; and engaging various subjects such as gender, sexuality, collective/individual, institutional/innovative, ritual.
Essays should be 5000-10,000 words in length and must be submitted by June 1, 2024 for consideration. Please direct queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Religion and the Arts follows MLA style. Authors should send any image files in color or black/white as 300 dpi for photography/600 for linework at the size the images are to be reproduced. Authors must arrange for world rights and are responsible for the costs (the print run is 250). For further information on Religion and the Arts, edited by James Najarian, consult https://www.bc.edu/publications/relarts/about.html