ARSP at the AAR

The ARSP team recently traveled to Denver, Colorado, for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Annual Meeting, held this year at the Colorado Convention Center. Each November, the AAR conference brings together thousands of scholars, journalists, artists, publishers, and others from across the nation for several days of panel discussions, exhibits, and events.

ARSP Presentation at Art Institute of Chicago

In September, ARSP co-directors Isaac Weiner and Amy DeRogatis participated in a public conversation with artist James Webb at the opening of his sound exhibit “Prayer” at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Learning to Hear in Arch City Religion

By Rachel McBride Lindsey
Saint Louis University

What do we gain as researchers by listening for religion in the city? This was one of the questions I posed to students in my second-year elective course, “Arch City Religion: Religious Life and Practice in St. Louis,” last spring.

Co-PIs Isaac Weiner and Amy DeRogatis

ARSP Awarded Luce Grant

Official announcement by the Michigan State University College of Arts & Letters:

A joint, multidisciplinary project between Michigan State University and The Ohio State University that examines sounds of religion throughout the United States, and which first began in 2015, recently received a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support expansion of the project. The grant was approved in conjunction with a request for proposals issued by the Luce Foundation’s Theology Program.

From the Visual to the Sonic

by Lauren Pond

As the ARSP multimedia content producer, I create audio clips, collages, and essays from recordings gathered by the project’s student and staff researchers. In my editing, I try to tease out specific themes (such as food and drink in religious practice, and the presence of religion during protests, to name a couple). I also call attention to unexpected sounds, such as the roar of a landing plane during a Serbian Orthodox chapel blessing, or the rumble of idling semi-tractor trailers just outside of a travel center chapel.

However, my focus on religious sound is relatively new. My background is primarily in documentary photography. Since 2010, I have specialized in documenting faith and religion, and have used my camera to explore both formal religious rituals and the intersection of belief with life and culture. Before the ARSP, I had experience working with audio, but I still thought of it mostly as an accompaniment to visual media.

ARSP Spring Pilot Sites

On October 20, the ARSP leadership team gathered at OSU for an all-day brainstorming session with our three pilot site coordinators. In Spring 2018, our project will be incorporated into university courses led by Christopher Cantwell, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Rachel M. Lindsey, at Saint Louis University, as well as a similar research project led by Kathryn McClymond, at Georgia State University.

The ATL Maps Project and the ARSP

ARSP Advisory Board member and project co-originator, Kathryn McClymond, has a wonderful blog post up about her work with the ATL Maps project, in which she reflects on the value of sound mapping for studying and teaching about Atlanta’s religious diversity. We are excited about bringing our projects together in the near future. Stay tuned!

Singing HU

By Lauren Pond

In 2015, when I initially got involved in the American Religious Sounds Project (then the Religious Soundmap Project), my very first assignment was to attend an Eckankar seminar in Dublin, Ohio. Eckankar centers on the idea that humans are connected to God through a divine spirit, which can be “heard as sound and seen as light.” One of the cornerstones of Eckankar is the HU song, a chant that adherents say allows them to raise their consciousness and become closer to the divine.

Tsougrisma

Text by Amy DeRogatis
Recordings by Emma Pittsley
Photographs and Audio Editing by Lauren Pond

On Saturday, April 15, the Michigan State ARSP research team attended the Holy Saturday Divine Liturgy service at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lansing, Michigan. After the service, we joined congregants to help wrap red eggs for that evening’s celebration after the Paschal Vigil. During Thursday of Holy Week, congregation members had dropped off dozens of eggs that had been dyed bright red. These were ready to be wrapped in tulle on Saturday.

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