Irreverence and the Sacred: Critical Studies in the History of Religion

A Conference to Honor Professor Bruce Lincoln

November 4-6, 2016

Swift Lecture Hall | Franke Institute for the Humanities

"Irreverence and the Sacred" will be a three-day symposium to celebrate the work of Bruce Lincoln and to critically interrogate the current and future directions of  the academic study of religion. This will include papers from a wide range of leading scholars in the U.S. and Europe, followed by a series of reflections, responses, and rejoinders from Professor Lincoln. The symposium will take Lincoln's work as a point of departure from which to consider the  possibilities for a genuinely critical interrogation of the complex  phenomenon known as 'religion,' the forms it has taken and the roles it  has played in various historic, social, and cultural contexts.

Bruce Lincoln is the Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School; also in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Committee on Medieval Studies; Associate Faculty in the Departments of Anthropology and Classics. He will be retiring from the UChicago faculty this year.


Tentative Schedule

Friday November 4
1 PM-8:30: Third Floor Lecture Hall, Swift Hall 

Welcome: Richard A. Rosengarten, Dean of the Divinity School

1:10: Introduction: Hugh Urban (Ohio State University) and Greg Johnson (University of Colorado):
“Destabilizing the Sacred: A Critical History of Religions”

1:30pm: Nicolas Meylan (University of Lausanne):
 “(Mythical) Battles in Medieval  Scandinavia:  Battle Narratives and the Construction of Society”

2:15pm: Wendy Doniger (University of Chicago)
“Glossing Un-Dharma with Dharma:  The Double-Talk of the Arthashastra and the Kamasutra”

3:00-3:15 Coffee Break

3:15-4pm Stephanie Frank (Columbia College):
“The Study of Religion and the Limits of Transparency”

4-4:45pm Richard Payne (University of Chicago):
"The Lie and the Reconstitution of Imperial Order at Paikuli"

4:45-5:30pm Cliff Ando (University of Chicago):
"I Am Abrasive, and So Should You"

5:40pm Reception, Common Room (1st floor)





Saturday November 5
9 AM-6 PM: Franke Institute for the Humanities | map

9:00: Kenneth Yu (University of Chicago)
"Anomalies and Knowledge Making in the ps.-Aristotelian On Marvellous Things Heard"

9:45: Jean Kellens (Collège de France)
“Becoming Zarathushtra”

10:30-10:45 (Coffee Break)

10:45: Marshall Sahlins (University of Chicago):

11:30 Kelly E. Hayes (Indiana University):
“Chivalrous Knights and Veiled  Nymphs: The Enchanted World of Brazil's Valley of the Dawn”

12:15 - 2 PM Lunch

2:00 Kathleen Self (St. Lawrence University):
 “Straightening Out the Æsir’s Gender”

2:45 Kevin Wanner (Western Michigan University):
“Authority Apart from Truth: Superhero Comic Book Stories as Myths”

3:30-4 Coffee Break

4-4:45pm Ivan Strenski (University of California, Riversi):
“Moscow, Third Rome and the Uses of Ressentiment: An Essay in Myth Criticism”

4:45-5:15pm Greg Johnson (University of Colorado):
“Advocacy, Authority, Credibility: The Challenge of Being an Irreverent Witness”

5:30-6:30 Discussion

6:30-8:30 Reception and Dinner

Sunday November 6
10 AM – 2 PM: Franke Institute for the Humanities | map

10:00 Claude Calame (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales):
“The Concept of Religion from the Comparative Perspective: History and Cultural Relativism”

10:45 Romi Mukherjee (Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris):
 “On the Limits of Irreverence and the Sacred Right to Profanation: Charlie Hebdo, between Liberal Pluralism and French Republicanism” 

11:30 Bruce Lincoln (University of Chicago):
Critical Reflections and Responses

12:30-2 Lunch

photo: Jasmine Kwong, Seminary Co-op Documentary Project