Agora Lecture – Miri Rubin: Learning to Love: the Virgin Mary in European Culture

October 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Miri Rubin is the Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History in Queen Mary, University of London. Her Agora lecture will explore – with images, texts and music – the heritage of love developed by Europeans over centuries around the most iconic female figure: the Virgin Mary.  At once mother, bride, daughter, and patron, the Virgin Mary allowed Europeans to express ideas about secular love and religious devotion, love of family and loyalty to lineage. They did so in the many styles and languages of Europe, ranging from the golden icons of Siena to the parish wall-paintings of Hattula. Europeans learned to express love – intimately as well publicly – as they learned about the Virgin Mary, and considered her delight in motherhood and herlament in bereavement. This heritage is alive in Europe and beyond, in a world largely secular, yet touched by these historic lessons of love, both sacred and profane.


Agora Lecture – Marion Bowman: Sacred Spaces in Secular Places – From Airports to Agoratopias

October 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Marion Bowman is the Head of Religious Studies at the Open University in the United Kingdom, working at the interstices of religious studies and folklore. Her research interests include vernacular religion, contemporary Celtic spirituality, pilgrimage, material culture, sacred space, airport chapels, the creation of myth and tradition. She has made a long term study of Glastonbury Festival, England, on which she has published extensively.

In her Agora lecture Bowman discusses how modern people find, create and experience sacred spaces in some unexpected places. She will look at two examples of this – airport chapels and the sacred spaces created at the famous Glastonbury Festival. In these two very different contexts, she explores ideas of what makes sacred space in terms of material culture, purpose and surroundings. She ponders why people feel the need for sacred spaces in secular places, and how people react to and interact with these spaces – whether as flyers or festival goers.

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