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Cristiana Facchini

Thursday, August 27, 11:30 a.m. | Helios
Representing Judaism: Narrating, visualizing, performing, and feeling a religion

Cristiana Facchini

In the last thirty to forty years, historians of religion have dealt from a variety of point of views with the notion of representation, entertaining themselves with the symbolic dimension of the religious imagination, increasingly interacting with discipline as cultural anthropology, art history and literary criticism, at times with semiotics, in order to depict the religious cultures of the past. Often they fully reconstructed segments of religious systems, as they focused on rituals or performances, in other cases they have tried to unearth segments of their symbolic universes starting from the study of visual or other languages. My lecture is focused on representations of Judaism that emerged at the onset of the modern era, and the more or less self-conscious processes of their construction. As Jews were greatly challenged by different paths of modernity, and precisely because they lived in diaspora, the way they conceptualized their tradition and history bear the traits of a complexity that has been often overlooked. This complexity has to deal with a number of negotiations that Jewish intellectuals (and Jewish institutions) had to face with the rise of modernity. I will therefore present different representations, framing them against the background of a geographical setting on the move, which will enable me to explore the dimension of a diaspora religion. Moreover, I will integrate the discursive and descriptive dimension of these representations, with other devises, meant to integrate the visual and performative dimension of religion, its materiality and capability to create emotions.