"Remediating Sacred Scriptures"

Symposium at Syracuse University

11-12 October 2013



The RSS symposium begins with a set of questions: How does a scripture's sacred status alter as it shifts from oral to written to printed and on into digital media? On the one hand, do new technologies open us to a broader sensorium in relation to texts, allowing contemporary people to hear and see and feel and examine and intellectually probe ancient books in modes heretofore inaccessible? On the other hand, will these new technologies, now available to the masses in ways well beyond the impact of the printing press, challenge traditional authority structures? Do they have the potential to create a radical new reformation? Could we here, due to the proliferation of global technologies, see the emergence of an inter-religious reformation, simultaneously impacting Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and other more local traditions?


Three invited scholars will discuss their work in relation to these questions. Each presentation will be followed by a formal response, with ample time for follow up conversation. The aim is to make these questions relevant to scholars working in a number of regions, with varying scripts, and to raise questions about the new mediations of sacred scripts. Admission is free and open to the public.


Internet Sacred Texts



Quran and


RSS Symposium Program

All events in Room 304, Tolley Building, Syracuse University


Friday, 11 October. 4.30. Welcome Reception


5.00pm - Gregory Grieve, "From Satori to Second Life: Convert Zen and the Spiritualization of Cybernetics in Post War America"


Grieve is Associate Professor of Religion, UNC-Greensboro. Grieve researches and teaches in the intersection of Asian religions, Digital Media, Popular Culture and ethnographic approaches to the study of religion. He is the author of Retheorizing Religion in Nepal and the co-editor of the edited volume Historicizing Tradition in the Study of Religion. Forthcoming is Digital Zen: Buddhism, Virtual worlds and online Meditation which concentrates on Buddhism in the virtual world of Second Life, a 3D interactive world of over 20 million residents in which users interact with one another through animated avatars.


Abhishek Amar will be responding to Grieve. Amar is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Hamilton College, specializing in the history of early India. His research interests include archaeological history of Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions in early India.



Saturday 12 October. 9.00am. Coffee and baked goods


9.30am - Nabil Echchaibi, "Post-Islamist Sounds: Nasheed and Qur'anic Recitation on YouTube and the Triangulation of Islamic Preaching"


Echchaibi is Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies and Associate Director of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture at the University of Colorado-Boulder. His research is situated at the crossroad of important contemporary issues such as identity, religion, and the role of media in shaping and reflecting modern religious subjectivities among Muslims in the Middle East and in diaspora. Dr. Echchaibi is currently working on his book, Formations of the Muslim Modern: Islam, Media and Alternative Modernity, which explores how Muslims engage, through their own media production, modernity as a source of both contention and identification.


Peyi Soyinka-Airewele will be responding to Echchaibi. Soyinka-Airewele is Associate Professor of African and International Politics at Ithaca College, with interests in the fields of socio-political memory, the politics of disaster, critical development theory, human rights and the politics of African Cinema.


11.00am - Rachel Wagner, "Frags, Fiero, Fun, and Firepower: Apocalypticism in New Media"


Wagner is Associate Professor of Religion at Ithaca College, and author of Godwired: Religion, Ritual, and Virtual Reality (Routledge), and has authored a number of articles on digital texts, religion, and transmedia. She was a fellow at NYU's Center for Religion and Media in 2012, and a recent participant in an NEH-funded collaboration on High Performance Computing. She is currently writing a book on religion and gaming.


M. Gail Hamner will be responding to Wagner's talk. Hamner is Associate Professor of Religion at Syracuse, specializing in religion and culture, with teaching interests in religion and film, Christianity and American culture, religion and literature, and feminist theory and the study of religion



The symposium is sponsored by the

Central New York Humanities Corridor and Syracuse University

and organized by SCRIPT

Questions? Contact Brent Plate, splate@hamilton.edu or James Watts, jwwatts@syr.edu