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Religion, Attire, and Adornment in North America Seminar

Call for Proposals

For 2020, the Religion, Attire, and Adornment Seminar seeks panelists for the following two sessions:

Session 1: We will host a "Dialogue with the Author" session on the book Religion in Vogue: Christianity and Fashion in America (NYU, 2019). Author Lynn S. Neal argues that the fashion industry created a distinct Christian aesthetic during the twentieth century, such that religion came to be understood as an extractable commodified accessory; this "fashionable religion" is further emblematic of ways that many modern Christians encounter and perform their religious identity. Any scholar interested in serving as a formal respondent to the book should contact Marie Dallam:

Session 2: In an effort to build shared frameworks, ideas, and language for our scholarship, we will host a working group session focusing on method and theory for the study of religion and dress. We seek panelists willing to offer brief critical responses to readings that are significant to this issue in order to generate discussion. Readings will be drawn from dress studies, fashion studies, material/sensory culture studies, and other appropriate scholarship. Scholars interested in being a panelist or otherwise participating should contact Martha Finch:

Statement of Purpose

Focusing on the North American context, this seminar explores specific instances of religion, attire, and adornment, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of religion and dress. Religion and dress includes a wide range of expressions, including not only clothing but all forms of bodily adornment: hairstyle, jewelry, cosmetics, scents, bathing, tattooing, and more. Many religions prescribe and proscribe various forms of dress in both sacred and secular settings, but beyond basic questions of who, what, and why that are prompted by such religious rules, this seminar is especially interested in exploring connections between religious dress and meaning-making. We also seek to move beyond dress as merely a sign or communicator of meaning to attend to the materiality of dress itself, and the ways it shapes bodies and selves. All scholars are invited to contact the chair to express interest in participating in the seminar.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs and steering committee members at all times