Book: Sensational Religion

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YaleNews features works recently or soon to be published by members of the University community. Descriptions are based on material provided by the publishers. Authors of new books may forward publishers’ book descriptions to us by email.

Sensational Religion: Sensory Cultures in Material Practice

Edited by Sally M. Promey, professor of American studies and of religion and visual culture, and deputy director of the Institute of Sacred Music

(Yale University Press)

The result of a collaborative, multiyear project, this book  investigates the dynamic constellation of religion, sensation, and materiality, exploring the interpretive worlds of sensory phenomena in material practices of religions..



Under the rubric of “making sense,” the studies assembled here ask: How have people used and valued sensory data? How have they shaped their material and immaterial worlds to encourage or discourage certain kinds or patterns of sensory experience? How have they framed the sensual capacities of images and objects to license a range of behaviors, including iconoclasm, censorship, and accusations of blasphemy or sacrilege?

Exposing the dematerialization of religion embedded in secularization theory, Sally Promey proposes a fundamental reorientation in understanding the personal, social, political, and cultural work accomplished in religion’s sensory and material practice. “Sensational Religion” refocuses scholarly attention on the robust material entanglements often discounted by modernity’s metaphysic and on their inextricable connections to human bodies, behaviors, affects, and beliefs.

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