Prayer and Performance: acts of belief as symbolic communication in the late medieval and Renaissance period

full name / name of organization: 
Joseph Sterrett / Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
contact email: 

An international interdisciplinary colloquium examining the nature of prayer as performance in late medieval and early modern culture
Aarhus University, April 23-24 2012, email:

This project seeks to explore aspects of prayer as a performative act in European culture during the late medieval and early modern period, considering these findings in light of the most current theoretical and anthropological perspectives.  An intentionally interdisciplinary effort, it will draw together studies of literature, material culture and religious anthropology.  The project intends to answer the following questions:
-How was prayer represented in literature, plays or works of art?
-How do prayers in plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe and Middleton, for example, register responses to the controversies and debates about what constituted true or effective prayer?
-How did communities utilize prayer as a distinguishing feature for their religious identity, and how were these forms policed?
-How was prayer bound up in the material culture of religious practice (funeral rites, for example) and the social practices that determined social status of different periods?
-More importantly, how might these literary, social and material gestures serve as a marker for shifting social perspectives and customs, especially during the Reformation?

Papers are invited from those who work on prayer during this period, either through language, material culture, social practice or from a more theoretical perspective. The aim will be share research, whether it be an examination of the architecture created to facilitate prayer, the texts created to preserve, stimulate, guide or police prayer (poetry, hymns, sermons, or polemic), or more scientific attempts to define a person or community's relationship to the practice of prayer. 

Please submit proposals of 150 words for papers of 20 minutes in length.  Panels on specific aspects of early modern prayer will also be considered and should include a brief summary of the panel focus with 150 word proposals of each paper included in the panel.  All submissions should be made viaemail by 15 October 2011.

Key Speakers include:
Professor Christopher Norris, Cardiff University, Wales
Professor Armin Geertz, Aarhus University, Denmark
Professor Helen Wilcox, Bangor University, Wales
Professor Graham Parry, University of York, England
Professor Reiner Sorries, Museum for Sepulchral Culture, Kassal, Germany
Professor Roy Eriksen, Agder University, Norway

Co-organised by the Department of Language, Literature and Culture, and the Section for Medieval and Renaissance Archaeology, Aarhus University in conjunction with the School of English, Bangor University, Wales.