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Panel title: “Holy Celebrity: Saints and/as Social and Economic Capital” – sponsored by the International Hagiography Society
Conference: International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (USA), 12-16 May 2016
Organisers: Alicia Spencer-Hall (Queen Mary, University of London) and Barbara E Zimbalist (University of Texas at El Paso)
Scholars have often commented on the link between sanctity and celebrity. Both the saint and the celebrity are elevated above the everyday, with identities carefully crafted by cultural producers to respond to the needs and desires of an audience, region, or temporality. Sacralisation/celebrification entails a series of processes which (re)formulate a subject into a product fit for social, political, and economic consumption. Yet sanctity/celebrity is not simply exploitative, but enjoyable and perhaps even empowering. What does it really mean to be a medieval celebrity? How does celebrity intersect with sanctity? What does such a categorization add to the study of hagiography? Can fame resonate on both a social and spiritual level, and how does the medieval idea of fame generate, overlap with, and inform contemporary discourses of fame, celebrity, and sanctity?
Relevant topics for this session include:
- Saints as commercial products and/or economic agents
- The construction of Sanctity and Communal Identity
- Audience reaction(s) to a saint and textual reception
- Power dynamics between celebrity/saint and star-maker/confessor or hagiographer/cleric/scribe
- The social function of celebrity/sanctity
- Film theory’s contribution to the study of sanctity more generally
If you’re interested in speaking on this panel, please submit an abstract of roughly 250-300 words and a Participant Information Form (PIF), which can be found at http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html#PIF.
Deadline for submissions: 1 September 2015. Please email your abstract and PIF to the panel organisers, Alicia Spencer-Hall (aspencerhall [at] gmail.com) and Barbara E. Zimbalist (bezimbalist [at] utep.edu).