Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CFP for Special issue of Online – Heidelberg Internet Journal

Call for Papers : “Religions on the Internet - Aesthetics and the Dimensions of the Senses”
Special issue of Online – Heidelberg Internet Journal, due for publication in October 2010

We herewith invite scholars from Religious, Cultural, Social, Media Studies and other related disciplines to hand in proposals for possible articles which deal with questions of the aesthtics and sensual dimensions of religions and rituals on the Internet.

When we look on the various representations of religious groups and individuals on personal homepages, in weblogs, in virtual worlds or the like and when we follow their communications on religious topics online, the visual and auditive aspects of the medium seem to play a major role. Using pictures, videos, icons, as well as music and other sounds, the internet users can design a multisensual virtual environment which might implicate its own notion of ‘aesthetics’. This might be the case in e.g. a virtual Church environment which is embedded in an area with plashy waterfalls and bird sound instead of organ music or for religious groups in social networks who link to home-made Youtube videos, online games and other homepages. But we also must not forget the connection to these sensual dimensions that refer to and rely on the (offline) bodies of religious practitioners. Religions and rituals on the Internet might most probably provoke emotional or other physical reactions. Furthermore, in transfer processes between the offline and online realm there might be a redefinition of what seems to be an ‘appropriate’ design for religious settings.

As the aesthetic and sensual dimensions of religions and rituals on the internet are so far a mostly neglected area of research, we call upon theoretical and methodical reflection as well as on empiric studies referring to these topics. We are looking forward to receive the title and a short abstract (max. 250 words) of the planned article until 31st of March 2010.

Further important dates and deadlines are:
April 15th: Notification on the acceptance of your proposal by the editors
August 31st: Submission deadline for full article
September 15th: Deadline for comments, requests of revisions by the editors (if
September 31st: Submission deadline for revised articles
November, 1st: Publication of the Online Journal

Please send your abstract to the following Email-addresses:

Monday, February 22, 2010

CFP on book on Church and New Media

Editors: Pauline Hope Cheong, Peter Fischer-Nielsen, Stefan Gelfgren and Charles Ess

Background and Rationale
This book brings together, for the first time in five years, a collection of key articles in the area of religion and the Internet, particularly as new media relates to church, mission and interfaith dialogue. In light of the increasing mediation of everyday life in many parts of the world, this book approaches online religion with a fresh perspective, to account for contemporary developments in media and spirituality, with implications for faith and other civic organizations.

Arguably, as institutionalized religions and movements rush to leverage the Web to improve their reach, religious communication on the Internet takes an increasingly significant role alongside more traditional venues for such discourse. It may be, however, that religious use associated with new media problematizes established faith rituals, and religious community building in both its conception and operationalization. Changes in the Church can also
be conceived as intertwined with a range of other forms of social and political developments, such that new media acts as an agent and practice to challenge and transform the influence and authority of the Church. Furthermore, as ³new² media is a moving target, there may be past concepts that are more able to explain the nature of church life (such as evangelical
mission and systematic theology) or new concepts that are being developed that are better able to address the diversity and complexity of contemporary social and religious life (such as the ideas of social networking, viral marketing and church branding).

This edited collection aims to address and inform such issues and debates by offering new empirical, theoretical, and theological insights into how religious life continues to transform and be transformed by these new communication technologies. Current contributors, together with the editors, include Knut Lundby, Heidi Campbell, Mark Johns and Jørgen Straarup.
We hereby invite proposals for additional chapters (particularly in the historical and theological sections as explained below) that will complement and expand upon these contributions.

Section 1: Theoretical Approaches
This section maps the range of theoretical perspectives on religion and new media. A number of different theories have proven useful for researchers and scholars ¬ but new media also challenge our theoretical frameworks and categories. How far do current theories ³work² in helping us research and understand the complex interactions between religious life and new media ¬and how far are new theoretical understandings needed? And: what might these new theoretical understandings ³look like² ¬ i.e., are new theoretical frameworks and categories available that have yet to be fully explored by scholars and researchers that can be argued to be potentially fruitful?

Section II: Historical Perspectives
This section discusses the presence and significance of historical
perspectives in church and new media research. Transformations in communication media are deeply interwoven with the history and theology of Christianity. In light of this history, how do churches respond to the continued expansion of contemporary communication media? For example, given the close correlations between distinctive forms and modalities of communication ¬ including the broad categories of orality, literacy, print, and the secondary orality/literacy of electronic media ¬ and conceptions of self, community, and institutional authority, what does this history suggest regarding the possible implications and challenges of contemporary shifts
towards new media?

Section III: Empirical Investigations
This section reports on the empirical research studies that investigate emerging media and social media practices related to the Church. Disciplines represented include but are not restricted to: sociology of religion, ethnography and online ethnography, linguistics, and the social sciences and humanities more broadly as represented within the field of computer-mediated communication. Contributions may focus on, but not restricted to, contemporary uses (successful and not so successful) of new media in the life of religious communities (local, national, international). Guiding questions for such research and studies include: Do the possibilities and affordances of new media lead to genuinely new and demonstrable impacts on the life of congregations? What factors appear to accompany whether or not a given community or institution embraces or resists specific media? What factors are at work in both successes and failures for faith believers and organizations to adopt and adapt to new media? How does religiously related new media use interact or affect the offline practices of established religious organizations?

Section IV: Theological Reflections
The last section of the book provides theological reflections on the Internet, to forward the development of a theology of the Internet which is a budding field of research. Although practical perspectives and guidelines for Internet use have been published, a more thorough theological analysis of new media is missing. The need for theological clarification is apparent
since web-enabled applications challenge churches with a number of difficult questions.

Submission Details
Please submit a 500-700 word abstract (including important and initial references) to the editors as an email attachment to no later than April 15, 2010. Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by May 31, 2010, and will then be invited to submit a full paper to the editors. Final manuscripts should be no more than 6,500 words, including notes and references, prepared in APA style.

Important Dates:
April 15, 2010 Deadline for abstract submission
May 31, 2010 Announcement of results and full paper invitations
August 31, 2010 Submission of full papers

Inquiries should be addressed to:
Pauline Hope Cheong
Associate Professor of Communication
Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
P.O. Box 871205, Stauffer Hall 462 Tempe, AZ 85287-1205
Arizona State University

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mellon Postdocs in Technology and Memory Studies

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Program for Research in the Humanities announces a call for Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowships in the Humanities 2010-2012.Though not specifically in media and religion they are open to projects that engage with History of Science/Technology and Memory Studies which relate to these areas. For details click here.

New Publications on Religion Online

I wanted to introduce readers to 3 recent publication on religion online.

Daniel Arasa, Lorenzo Cantoni & Lucio A. Ruiz (Eds.), (2010). Religious Internet Communication. Facts, Trends and Experiences in the Catholic Church, Rome: EDUSC 2010.
Religious Internet Communication. Facts, Trends and Experiences in the Catholic Church offers readers and researchers a comprehensive overview of Catholic usages of Internet communication by providing a solid review of the creativity and motivations of Church innovators who have utilized different facets of network technologies to extend the Church’s work and solidify its internal communications. The book features fifteen cases encompassing various application areas, from Vatican online communication, to that of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, up to the websites of Opus Dei and Communion and Liberation offering a better understand the richness and complexity of online Church communication.

Heidi Campbell, (2010). Religious Authority and the Blogosphere. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 15(2),pp. 251-276.
It is often argued that the internet poses a threat to traditional forms of authority. Within studies of religion online claims have also been made that the internet is affecting religious authority online, but little substantive work has backed up these claims. This paper argues for an approach to authority within online studies which looks separately at authority: roles, structures, beliefs/ideologies and texts. This approach is applied to a thematic analysis of 100 religious blogs and demonstrates that religious bloggers use their blogs to frame authority in ways that may more often affirm than challenge traditional sources of authority.

Craig Detweiler (Ed.), (2010). Halos and Avatars: Playing Video Games With God. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Detweiler brings together a group of experts to explore the spiritual and theological implications of video gaming and together they explore issues such the formation and implications of gaming communities, how gaming impacts childeren's moral fomration and how religion gets framed and contested in different gaming genres.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Haredi and the Internet

Things continue to heat up within the Israeli Haredi community with renewed debates over the internet emerging. After several months of pressure from rabbis and the rabbinical council on communication over the work of several haredi web sites, resulting in several website closing and web masters resigning, this week rabbis have deemed haredi internet kosher as long as they follow certain directive of more closely filtering/monitoring content. Issues over suitable content seem to be more about the nature of how the community and its leaders are being framed online, rather than previous rhetoric that the internet allow questionable moral content into the community.

Today reports surfaced taht Haredi women are also being given instruction on how to keep the internet safe for their families, with such discussion being noted in a Jerusalem Post article entitled Is Facebook Kosher? Advice for torah-observant women included using laptops over desktop computers in the home which can more easily be closed and stored away from families so not to pose a temptation to husbands or expose children to online content. It seems discussion of halakhic use of the internet is now being an issues ofbehavior monitoring with the onus being place on women who work at home, so that their online activities do not to become a source of temptation or religious distraction for their families.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fellowship opportunity in NYC on The Mediation of Meaning

CrossCurrents, an international, interdisciplinary, interreligious journal of opinion and the Association for Religion and Intellectual Life invites applications to is annual research colloquium.

It allows scholars to spend the month of July in New York working on a research or writing project of your choice with access to libraries and research facilities at Columbia University, Union, Auburn, and Jewish Theological Seminaries. They are now receiving fellowship applications. Queries are welcome at any time; the application deadline is March 1, 2010.

This summer we are encouraging, among others, projects that touch upon a broad theme:
The Mediation of Meaning.

Acknowledging the force of Marshall McLuhan's famous dictum -- the medium is the message -- we invite projects that update, challenge, or problematize his thesis. Interdiciplinary work that draws upon the sciences, religion and the arts is most welcome. We also encourage applications from people outside the academy ... artist, writers, journalists, those working within the communications industry, those who have expertise in computer mediated communications technology, gaming or virtual reality. Projects do not need to be focused on the contemporary period; applicants can suggest research that explores how cultures have been shaped by communications technologies of the past.

To that end we invite applications for a fellowship that will allow you to spend a month in a collaborative learning community, diverse in race, age, gender, religion and intellectual discipline working on a project of your design.

For more information about the colloquium and how to apply click here.

Or email: Charles Henderson, Executive Editor, CrossCurrents

Monday, February 08, 2010

in the social media spirit

Today the Chicago Tribune reflects on religion online "in the social media spirit" and how religious institutions are trying to extend the mission and message through blogs and websites. Using new media to encourage affiliation and build membership is not new, yet it is still interesting to reflect on how using the internet is being framed as a key social resource for groups vying for people time and mental attention in an information society.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

CFP deadline coming up for iCS special issue on Religion and the Internet

Just a reminder there is only 1 week left till the CFP deadline (1 Feb 2010) for the Special Issue of Information, Communication & Society on Religion and the Internet. We are accepting paper abstracts/article proposals for a special issue dealing with the how religion online intersects with the practice of religion offline. As the call for papers states:

In the initial waves of religion and internet research focus was often placed on how the internet would drastically change religious practice and ideology, due to growth of religious communities online and integration of religious rituals and practices into digital environments. Much attention was given to the novel uses and trends such as those seen in New Religious Movements online where once fringe or secretive religious groups were given a public platform making them more visible. Focus was also placed on how mainstream religions, such as Christianity and Islam, were appropriating to new media technologies or critiquing internet use and with a particular focus on the United states and Western Europe. As the internet has become increasingly embedded in the everyday lives of many researchers attention is now being drawn to the connection between online and offline religious practice, structures and belief. Furthermore, the rise of new software and models of internet communication, often referred to as Web 2.0, has created a heightened interest in issues of user lead content creation and web based social interaction. At the heart of these developments is an important issue, considering to what degree spiritual practices online are transformative or to what extent they reflect larger changes in religious culture and institutions offline. This special issue of Information, Communication and Society seeks to explore this area by considering what we think we know about the relationship between online and offline religion and what issues are still are in need of more detailed investigation.

More details related to the CFP can be found here.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Where CD-ROMS and Torah Study come Together

While Ultra-Orthodox Groups in Israel debate over valid uses of the internet, other sectors of the Jewish community are readily appropriating new tech for religious purposes. Using computers to study Torah has become a popular and common example of this embrace include the Judaic Responsa Project and the DBS Torah CD. A recent essay in Haartz provides some detail on the thinking behind CD-ROM study aids, and talk of Jewoooogle for Torah study.