Panel: “Enchanting aesthetics” (EASR Conference 2012, Stockholm 23-26 August)

ENDS AND BEGINNINGS, Annual Conference of the European Association of the Study of Religion (EASR)

Södertörn University, Stockholm. 23-26 August, 2012


Alexandra Grieser Department for the Study of Religion University of Groningen (RUG)

Luise Lampe Department for the Study of Religion University of Heidelberg

“Enchanting aesthetics: Romanticism and the beginnings of religion as experience of nature and arts”
Relating religion to the age of Romanticism is often confined to a history of ideas and bourgeois notions of poetry, art, and philosophy alone. Romanticism, however, as a response to the rationalization of religion during the enlightenment, offered blueprints for both intellectual re-definitions of religion, and for new forms of social and bodily practices. We will demonstrate that core concepts of romantic reflection on imagination, perception, and emotion have given form to religion understood as the individual’s experience of transcendence in nature and arts. This notion has become particularly important for forms of modern religiosity and what today is referred to as “spirituality”.
In our panel, we aim to explore the peculiar interplay between theories and practices of romantic “aesthetic religiosity” in its historical longue durée. We will apply the newly emerging analytic approach of the “aesthetics of religion”, which starts from the understanding of aesthetics as a theory of sensory perception (aisthesis). Hence, it focuses on how religions are shaped by sensory perception and vice versa how they affect the senses and the body. We will utilize this perspective in order to comprehend if and how through “enchanting aesthetics” Romanticism has provided a model to re-enchant the modern world.

Panel Speakers:

Alexandra Grieser (University of Groningen, the Netherlands): “Aestheticization as an element of modernization? Religion, science, and the romantic universe”

Luise Lampe: “Enchanted (by) music: The emergence of romantic music aesthetics and its impact until today“

Eva Ehninger (University of Bern, Switzerland): “Art as experience / Experience and nature. The heritage of transcendentalism in the American quest for an aesthetic theory”

Froukje Pitstra (University of Groningen, The Netherlands): ‘Yes, all art is holy!’ How late 19th and early 20th century modern art influenced liberal Protestantism in The Netherlands