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Religion, Story and Material Culture panel discussion

What role does material culture (viewed broadly as the relationships between people and their things: cultural artefacts, pieces of art, household objects, clothing, buildings and so on) play in connecting religious stories to the lived experience of the faithful? How do those relationships work in differing religious traditions? How can the study of material culture add to our understanding of religious stories?

To what extent do particular doctrinal emphases affect the ways the religious relate to material objects? How do seemingly ‘iconoclastic’ religious traditions relate to material culture? Which practical challenges face academics as they study material culture in relation to religious stories?

This School-wide seminar will reflect on these questions through an extended discussion between Drs. Holtschneider, Grumett, Parvis and Eglinton, who will address the particular place of material culture in their own research projects.


Dr Hannah Holtschneider

Dr Holtschneider's research has engaged material culture in the construction of exhibitions of the Holocaust, her interest being in the use of objects to talk about the Jewish victims. Currently, she is working on Jewish migration to Scotland and is interested in what people brought to Scotland, kept, created, collected and deposited in the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre and other archives, and the stories that can be told about that. 


Dr David Grumett

Dr Grumett has significant interests in the intersection of Christian doctrine and material culture, having published extensively on theology and food. His current research focuses on the Eucharist, with a monograph entitled Material Eucharist to be published by Oxford University Press in 2016. He is particularly interested in the relationship between materiality and the doctrine of creation.


Dr Sara Parvis

Dr Parvis has wide-ranging interests in the Patristic period, with a particular focus on the development of orthodoxy and heresy in the early Church. Her interests in material culture in the Patristic era focus on death and resurrection in early Christian material culture.


Dr James Eglinton

Dr Eglinton is intersted in the role of material culture in the seemingly iconoclastic Calvinist tradition. He is currently working on a biography of Herman Bavinck, the Dutch neo-Calvinist, and is researching the role of material culture in the rise of that particular tradition, particularly probing the extent to which Bavinck participated in the material culture generated by his contemporary Abraham Kuyper.