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AESToR NET – The Aesthetics of Religion Research Network

Kick-off workshop
The Sensory Sacred – Aesthetic as a Connective Concept for the Study of Religion – Positions and Future Plans

Date: 22 – 23 August 2015 (right before the IAHR World Congress)
Venue: University of Erfurt; FG 1 room 0021 (on campus, across Nordhaeuser Street)

Saturday, 22 August 2015

14.00 Welcome and Introduction to the new DFG funded AESToR NET

Katharina Wilkens and Anne Koch, LMU Munich

15.00 Introduction to the first network-funded publication: “The Sensory Sacred: Aesthetics as a Connective Concept for the Study of Religion”

Alexandra Grieser, Trinity College Dublin

"The Sixth Sense: Aesthetics, Religion and Alternative Knowing"

Jay Johnston, University of Sydney

15.30 Coffee

16.00 Discussion of Jay Johnston’s paper

16.30 “Mapping Connections” – short presentations of concepts and cases demonstrating diverse aspects of the aesthetics of religion approach

Comment: Fred Cummins, University College Dublin

18.30 Dinner: “Rassmann’s in der Sackpfeifenmuehle”, Lange Bruecke 53 


Sunday, 23 August

9.00 Taking up the “Mapped Connections” from Saturday; input and discussion:

“Moving from perception-action towards sense making: an enactive view” 

Fred Cummins, Cognitive Sciences, University College Dublin

10.30 Coffee

11.00 The Future of the AESToR Network: Planning of the 2016 meeting in Oslo

Dirk Johannsen, Oslo/ Anja Kirsch, Basel

12.00 General Discussion

13.00 Catered Lunch

14.00-15.00 Annual General Meeting of the Working Group “Aesthetics of Religion”  - Elections, Structures, Planning (DVRW) 

Download the program

Kickoff Workshop
Invited Speakers

Jay Johnston (PhD) is Associate Professor, Department of Studies in Religion, and Director of the World Religion Program, University of Sydney. Her current research examines concepts of materiality, embodiment, environment and image agency in religious and archaeological discourse and practice. She leads the international collaborative project: "The Function of Images in Magical Papyri and Artefacts of Ritual Power from Late Antiquity" funded by the Australian Research Council. She is the co-editor of “The Sensory Sacred: Aesthetics as a Connective Concept for the Study of Religion”. Publications include Angels of Desire: Esoteric Bodies, Aesthetics and Ethics (2008); Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between Mind and Body (co-edited with G. Samuel, 2013) and Animal Death (co-edited with F. Probyn-Rapsey, 2013).


Fred Cummins (PhD Cognitive Science, Linguistics, Joint Major), Associate Professor in Cognitive Science, University College Dublin. Having been the Group leader of the Media Lab Europe, 2000-2004, his research focused on vocal communication, and collective speaking in particular. He is interested in how voice (and eyes) conspire to enable people to create shared worlds, how languaging extends beyond the narrow concerns of linguistics to include all bodily interactions. Empirically, he studies collective speech in prayer, protest, chanting, recitation, among sports fans, in educational settings, and beyond. This understudied topic requires scholars to reevaluate assumptions about the relation between the individual and the collective. Being asked to recommend three out of his numerous publications for the audience of our network meeting, Fred selected these: (2014) “Agency is distinct from autonomy.” Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 5(2):98-112. (2014) “Voice, (inter-)subjectivity, and real-time recurrent interaction.” Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science, 5(760). (2013) “Towards an enactive account of action: Speaking and joint speaking as exemplary domains.” Adaptive Behavior, 13(3):178-186.