By Danielle Weiner '13
The relationship between religion and technology is the focus of a conference that will bring three noted professors in the field to Franklin & Marshall College Saturday, Oct. 27.
Hosted by the Department of Religious Studies, the "Conference on Religion and Technology" will showcase a panel of speakers who study the intersection of religion with digital technology, science fiction and philosophy. They will explore topics ranging from the predictions of utopia or apocalypse that current powerful technology evokes, to the changing line between human and machine, to "ethical conundrums" new technologies can create. The event will be held 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in F&M’s Bonchek Lecture Hall.
"We live in an age of enormously rapid technological change," said Annette Aronowicz, F&M's Robert F. and Patricia G. Ross Weis Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies. "It is our hope that the speakers from the various disciplines in the humanities represented in this conference will shed some light on some of the implications of these technological changes. Most particularly, we are interested in what our new technologies tell us about our potentials, and our limitations. This has traditionally been the realm of religious reflection, but religious reflection is not limited to scholars in the religious studies department. It occurs across disciplines."
Aronowicz said the conference themes touch on the notion of the "sacred, of interiority, and of transcendence," all of which are central in the study of religion.
The conference at F&M will highlight three prominent scholars who have contributed to clarifying the link between religion and technology:
- Robert Geraci, an associate professor at Manhattan College who studies the religious implications of digital technology, including robotics and the use of online games such as Second Life;
- Thomas Carlson, a philosopher of religion professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who examines how technology affects our sense of transcendence; and
- Katherine Hayles, a professor of English literature at Duke University who holds advanced degrees in both chemistry and literature and researches science fiction literature of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Three F&M scholars will respond to the speakers' presentations: Professor of Anthropology Misty Bastian, whose studies include "cyber-ethnography," especially in the case of Nigerian immigrants to the West; Professor of Religious Studies Stephen Cooper, who studies the role of Greco-Roman philosophy and rhetoric in early Christian biblical exegesis; and Assistant Professor of English Peter Jaros, who specializes in early American history and literature and print culture.
The day will conclude with an open discussion moderated by Associate Professor of Religious Studies John Modern, whose field lies in the intersection of religion and technology in 19th-century America.
The event free and open to the public. || See full Conference Schedule.