Transforming Violence: Cult, Culture and Acculturation

Violence clearly transforms persons and communities. Violence is also transformed by those same, affected persons and communities, as they struggle to live in its wake or under its continued threat. What sort of artistic, expressive forms and cultural formations result from the experience of violence? How do they give and conceal evidence of their violent genesis? What determines whether or not a cultural form puts violence to rest, keeps it at bay, perpetuates it, or awakens its reappearance in yet another, related form? Can the “art” of violence become the work of peace? If so, how and under what conditions?

Co-organizers: Ann W. Astell and Margaret Pfeil, Department of Theology

Dr. Ann Astell is Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, where she was appointed in 2007, after serving as Professor of English and chair of Medieval Studies at Purdue University.  She is the author of six books on medieval literature and spirituality: The Song of Songs in the Middle Ages (1990), Job, Boethius, and Epic Truth (1994), Chaucer and the Universe of Learning (1996), Political Allegory in Late Medieval England (1999), Joan of Arc and Sacrificial Authorship (2003) and, most recently Eating Beauty:  The Eucharist and the Spiritual Arts of the Middle Ages (2006)—the writing of which was supported by a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (2001-2002).  She is also the editor or co-editor of four volumes on topics related to historical Christian spirituality, including Lay Sanctity, Medieval and Modern:  A Search for Models (2000); Joan of Arc and Spirituality (2003, with Bonnie Wheeler); and Levinas and Medieval Literature:  The “Difficult Reading” of English and Rabbinic Texts (2009, with Justin Jackson). Recent publications include articles in Franciscan Studies (2009) and in Contagion:  Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture (2009). A member of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, she currently serves as Executive Secretary of the international Colloquium on Violence and Religion.

Graciously co-sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Religion and Society, Center for Social Concerns, Department of Theology, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Institute for Church Life, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Mendoza College of Business, Nanovic Institute for European Studies, Office for the Vice President of Research, Program in Catholic Social Tradition, Program of Liberal Studies, School of Architecture, School of Law, Religion and Literature, and Snite Museum of Art, as well as Imitatio, Inc., and the Raven Foundation.

Prior to the conference, Suzanne interviewed Ann Astell, the co-organizer of the 2010 COV&R Conference at Notre Dame.

Mimesis and the Globalization of Religious Terrorism

A Raven Foundation Sponsored Plenary

Keith Ross, James W. Jones, Charles Selengut, and Suzanne Ross

Suzanne Ross moderated a discussion that explored the psychological dimensions of religious violence with James W. Jones of Rutgers University and Charles Selengut of Drew University. Listen to this exploration of a critical and timely issue.

James W. Jones, Rutgers University

The holder of doctorates in clinical psychology (Rutgers University) and Religious Studies (Brown University), Jones is Professor of Religion at Rutgers University. The author of ten books, he is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the winner of its William Bier Award in psychology of religion. A Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College, New York, he most recently authored Terror and Transformation: The Ambiguity of Religion in Psychoanalytic Perspective (Brunner-Routledge, 2002) and Blood That Cries Out from the Earth: The Psychology of Religious Terrorism (Oxford UP, 2008).

Charles Selengut, Drew University

Charles Selengut is professor of Sociology and of Religious Studies at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is the author of many scholarly articles on the rise of fundamentalism and New Religious Movements in the Middle East that foresaw early on the advent and intensity of the current strife in Israel and around the globe. Among his latest works are Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence(2004), Jewish Identity in the Post Modern Ageand__The Jewish-Muslim Encounter__, based on an international conference he organized in Europe, which brought together scholars from divergent branches of these faiths face-to-face. Dr. Selengut was the recipient of an NEH Fellowship at Harvard University and is currently conducting research for a study on apocalyptic Messianism in Israel and the USA. He has spoken in the past at meetings of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion.