Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminar: “Sacred Ecology: Landscape Transformations for Ritual Practice”

Co-directed by Professors John W. Janusek (Anthropology), Tracy G. Miller (History of Art), and Betsey A. Robinson (History of Art)
The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, 2011-2012.

The Warren Center is hosting a year-long interdisciplinary faculty seminar exploring the manifold experiences of complex ritual sites around the world and across all periods of human history.  Sacred ecology refers to the human experience of divinity in relation to the natural environment, real or represented.  Landscape is construed for our purposes not simply as natural scenery, but as a cultural complex in which the natural world and human practice, conceptual and material, are dynamically linked and constantly interacting.  An investigation of landscape may focus on pastoral or picturesque scenes, earthly elements and celestial movements, or constructed places and objects, such as a temple, altar, or stage.  We are also interested in exploring the temporal rhythms of human-landscape relations, whether regular or periodic, as well as the way in which transformations of space through activities enacted at sacred sites are received and replicated to encode other sacred spaces.

The seminar’s investigations of setting, nature, and monuments offer a chance to revisit sacred places and to see them in a new light. Our intentionally broad definition leaves room for participants to introduce new topics to the table, such as (but not limited to): the practicalities of survey and excavation and the mapping of ritual; the natural landscape and its representation in words and images; geomorphology and its influence on planning and architectural design; the modification and improvement of natural features to accommodate human ritual; poetry and performance, whether on-site or remote venues; or the visualization of landscape as a means of facilitating ecstatic experience.

For more detailed information, see:

Or contact:
Mona Frederick, Executive Director
Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities
VU Station B #351534, Nashville, TN 37235-1534
(615) 343-6060

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