Elon professors explore the ‘edge of apocalypse’ at bi-annual symposium

By Olivia Zayas Ryan

Elon University’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society (CSRCS) will be hosting an interdisciplinary symposium titled “On the Edge of Apocalypse: New Directions in the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion” Feb. 9-11. The event will be held on campus in the Numen Lumen Multifaith Center.

According to the event’s website, the objective of this symposium is to “exercise a self-conscious attention to methodological advances that can be made through interdisciplinarity.”

Brian Pennington, Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the CSRCS, explained what “apocalyptic thought” meant for religious scholars.

Brian Pennington, Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society

“‘Apocalyptic thought’ refers to ideas we find around the world and throughout history that the world will come to an end through violent, cataclysmic causes,” Pennington said. “Often this kind of thinking involves God appearing on Earth or sending deputies to crush evil-doers and reward the righteous.”

Eleven scholars from various institutions across North America will be attending to explore and discuss the edges of apocalyptic thought and practice. They will be presenting papers and holding discussions on topics ranging from the Netflix original series “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” to Black Lives Matter.  

The scholars attending this event are also meeting to collaborate on a book about apocalypticism.

Pennington said that while the paper presentations and discussions may not appeal to a general audience, he hopes that Elon students, faculty and staff will attend the keynote address.

David Cook, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, will be delivering a keynote address on Feb. 9 titled “‘Every Time a Horn Goes, Another Replaces It’: Cyclicality and Conquest in Muslim Apocalypticism.” The keynote address will be take place at 5:45 p.m. in McKinnon Hall.

During the event, Elon students conducting undergraduate research in religious studies are invited to present posters explaining their research and receive feedback from the attendees.

Hosting this symposium also reflects Elon’s commitment to religious inclusivity and multifaith discussion. “Elon is committed to educating the community about the role of religious ideas in society and to advancing research—by both students and faculty—about the role of religion in society,” Pennington said.

For more information and the full schedule of the event, visit http://blogs.elon.edu/ontheedge/.



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