Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Burying Iconic Books

The University of Chicago's Martin Marty Center is showcasing Max Moerman's essay, "The Death of the Dharma: Buddhist Sutra Burials in Early Medieval Japan" on its Religion and Culture Web Forum this month. The essay originally appeared in The Death of Sacred Texts, edited by Kristina Myrvold.

I was asked to write a short response to Moerman's essay. It concludes:

... Book and text rituals, which include their public performance and interpretation as well as their physical display and manipulation, serve to focus the attention of communities on enduring values. They cherish texts that contain those values as material representations of them, as relics of their faith. Anxiety about the future fuels efforts to reproduce and preserve those texts, so that they become material guarantors of cultural and religious persistence and, in Moerman's words, “a rhetorical center around which other personal, familial, and political anxieties converge” (p. 86).

Find the rest of it, as well as two other responses, here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

MLA CFP on Religion & History of the Book

From SHARP-L comes this call for papers:

Religion and the History of the Book

Special Session for the 2012 MLA convention

How technologies of inscription have shaped religious thought and practice; how religious discourses have affected the form of the book and other textual media. Send 250 word abstract to travis_decook@carleton.ca by March 15, 2011.