*Sally Promey's visit this week is canceled due to a family emergency. Please join us for our next visiting lecture by Janet Gyatso on Nov. 13th.
Professor Sally Promey will deliver the second lecture in the 2014-2015 University Lectures on Religion series. She is Deputy Director and Professor of Religion and Visual Culture in the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and the Yale Divinity School and Professor of American Studies at Yale University. Her lecture, like all others in the Center for the Study of Religion-sponsored series, is free and open to all. There will be a brief question-and-answer session and a reception following the lecture.
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. As legal scholar Leonard W. Levy points out, constitutional disestablishment notwithstanding, “religion saturates American public life.” I want to materially elaborate his assertion, to show how religion permeates the American public landscape too. In the book I am currently writing, I analyze the contexts and attributes of this visible saturation in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
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 fairly ordinary, fairly everyday circumambulations of common spaces, spaces to which the designers and practitioners of display assume that most everyone has, or can have, 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 religionin plain view.