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Sacred Ecology Symposium: Landscape Transformations and Ritual Practice

The 2011/2012 Faculty Fellows Program at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities will host a symposium titled "Sacred Ecology: Landscape Transformations and Ritual Practice" on August 30, 2013. The symposium serves as the culminating project of the Fellows' year-long seminar, led by Betsey Robinson (Department of History of Art), Tracy Miller (Department of History of Art), and John Janusek (Department of Anthropology). The symposium will take place in the Sarratt Student Center, Room 189, with a reception afterwards at the Warren Center. The tentative schedule follows. Please check our website for the final program.

Friday, August 30

8:45-9:00 am Welcoming comments

9:00-10:30 am Veronica della Dora
"Mountains and Vision: From Mount of Temptation to Mont Blanc"

Veronica della Dora is incoming Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway University of London. Her research interests include cultural and historical geography, sacred geographies, landscape, history of cartography, and Byzantine and post- Byzantine studies. She is the author of Imagining Mount Athos: Visions of a Holy Place from Homer to World War II (University of Virginia, 2011). Della Dora's current research examines Byzantine perceptions of landscape and geographical imaginations. She is now working on a joint monograph on Christian pilgrimage and landscape and on an illustrated volume on mountains for the Reaktion Earth series.

10:45 am-12:15 pm James Robson
"Confined in the Locus of the Sacred: From Sacred Sites to Insane Asylums in East Asia"

James Robson is Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University and President of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions. He specializes in the history of Medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism, and is particularly interested in issues of sacred geography, local religions, and religious art. He is author of the prizewinning Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak (Nanyue 南嶽) in Medieval China (Harvard University Asia Center, 2009). He is presently engaged in a long-term collaborative research project studying a large collection of local religious statuary from Hunan province.

12:15-1:30 pm Lunch

1:30-3:00 pm Deena Ragavan
"Constructed Landscapes: Sumerian Temples and the Natural World"

Deena Ragavan specializes in the literature and religion of the ancient Near East. She received her PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University with a dissertation examining Mesopotamian cosmology and the symbolism of sacred architecture in Sumerian literary texts. She has previously published a group of Old Assyrian tablets from the Harvard Art Museum/Arthur M. Sackler Museum and, most recently, is the editor of Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, & Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World (2013). Her current research focuses on Sumerian temple architecture and topography based on textual and archaeological evidence.

3:15-4:45 pm Lindsay Jones
"A Southern Mexican 'Cross of Miracles': The Irony of an Anti-Tourist Site's Debt to Tourism"

Lindsay Jones is a professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University. His interests lie in the crosscultural study of religion, with particular attention to sacred architecture and the cultures and religions of Mesoamerica. He is author of numerous works, including Twin City Tales: A Hermeneutical Reassessment of Tula and Chíchén Itzá (University Press of Colorado, 1995) and The Hermeneutics of Sacred Architecture: Experience, Interpretation, Comparison (Harvard University Press, 2000). His current work focuses on the Oaxaca region of southern Mexico.

4:45-5:30 pm Reception, Warren Center