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Adoring the Saints
Fiestas in Central Mexico
By Yolanda Lastra, Dina Sherzer, and Joel Sherzer
University of Texas Press, 2009

Mexico is famous for spectacular fiestas that embody its heart and soul. An expression of the cult of the saint, patron saint fiestas are the centerpiece of Mexican popular religion and of great importance to the lives and cultures of people and communities. These fiestas have their own language, objects, belief systems, and practices. They link Mexico's past and present, its indigenous and European populations, and its local and global relations.

This work provides a comprehensive study of two intimately linked patron saint fiestas in the state of Guanajuato, near San Miguel de Allende—the fiesta of the village of Cruz del Palmar and that of the town of San Luis de la Paz. These two fiestas are related to one another in very special ways involving both religious practices and their respective pre-Hispanic origins.

A mixture of secular and sacred, patron saint fiestas are multi-day affairs that include many events, ritual specialists, and performers, with the participation of the entire community. Fiestas take place in order to honor the saints, and they are the occasion for religious ceremonies, processions, musical performances, dances, and dance dramas. They feature spectacular costumes, enormous puppets, masked and cross-dressed individuals, dazzling fireworks, rodeos, food stands, competitions, and public dances. By encompassing all of these events and performances, this work displays the essence of Mexico, a lens through which this country's complex history, religion, ethnic mix, traditions, and magic can be viewed.

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The Ancient Roman Afterlife
Di Manes, Belief, and the Cult of the Dead
By Charles W. King
University of Texas Press, 2020

In ancient Rome, it was believed some humans were transformed into special, empowered beings after death. These deified dead, known as the manes, watched over and protected their surviving family members, possibly even extending those relatives’ lives. But unlike the Greek hero-cult, the worship of dead emperors, or the Christian saints, the manes were incredibly inclusive—enrolling even those without social clout, such as women and the poor, among Rome's deities. The Roman afterlife promised posthumous power in the world of the living.

While the manes have often been glossed over in studies of Roman religion, this book brings their compelling story to the forefront, exploring their myriad forms and how their worship played out in the context of Roman religion’s daily practice. Exploring the place of the manes in Roman society, Charles King delves into Roman beliefs about their powers to sustain life and bring death to individuals or armies, examines the rituals the Romans performed to honor them, and reclaims the vital role the manes played in the ancient Roman afterlife.

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Answered Prayers
Miracles and Milagros along the Border
Eileen Oktavec
University of Arizona Press, 1995
When Catholics in the Southwest ask God or a saint for help, many of them do not merely pray. They also promise or present a gift—a tiny metal object known as a milagro. A milagro, which means "miracle" in Spanish, depicts the object for which a miracle is sought, such as a crippled leg or a new house. Milagros are offered for everything people pray for, and so they can represent almost anything imaginable—arms, lungs, hearts, and eyes; men, women, and children; animals, cars, boats—even lost handbags and imprisoned men.

In Answered Prayers, the Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Tohono O'odham, and Yaquis who practice this tradition share their stories of unwavering faith and divine intervention. Anthropologist and photographer Eileen Oktavec has spent more than two decades documenting this fascinating tradition in the Arizona-Mexico borderlands. Quoting extensive interviews, she explains the beliefs of the people who perform this ancient folk ritual and the many rules guiding this practice. She also describes the many places where milagros are offered—from the elaborate Mexican baroque Mission San Xavier near Tucson, Arizona, to tiny household shrines and hospitals on both sides of the border. Oktavec also explains how milagros are made, where they are bought, and how they are used in jewelry, sculpture, and art.
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Archilochos Heros
The Cult of Poets in the Greek Polis
Diskin Clay
Harvard University Press, 2004
The discovery of the Mnesiepes inscription on Paros revealed the third century B.C. belief that the young Archilochos was transformed into a poet by an encounter with the Muses. It also revealed that the poet had become the object of a cult by his fellow islanders as he was transformed in death to a local hero. This is the first attempt to trace the history of this cult from the late sixth century B.C. to the third century A.D.. The author also integrates the iconography of the poet into the history of this cult, and addresses for the first time the larger phenomenon of the cult of poets in the Greek states. This study provides appendices giving sources of information for these cults, including the text of the Mnesiepes inscription. It is illustrated by in-text figures and plates.
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Charles Sheeler and Cult of the Machine
Karen Lucic
Harvard University Press, 1991

At the dawn of the twentieth century, Henry Adams proclaimed that the machine was as central to our modem American culture as the Virgin was to medieval culture. We worshiped in our factories as our ancestors worshiped in cathedrals. In this century we also raised up bridges, grain elevators, and skyscrapers, and many were dazzled by these symbols of the Machine Age--from American presidents such as Calvin Coolidge to European artists such as Marcel Duchamp. Charles Sheeler (1886-1965) was one of the most noted American painters and photographers to embrace the iconography of the machine. But was he high priest or heretic in the religion of mass production and technology that dominated his era?

Karen Lucic considers this intriguing question while telling us Sheeler's story: his coming of age, his achievement of artistic independence in the teens and twenties, and his later treatments of Machine Age subjects throughout the years of the Depression and World War II. The author shows us how--in paintings, drawings, and photographs depicting New York skyscrapers, Henry Ford's automobile factories, and machine-dominated interiors--Sheeler produced images of extraordinary aesthetic power that provocatively confirmed America's technological and industrial prestige in clear, vivid, and exact detail.

Do these compelling works establish Sheeler as a champion of the Machine Age? Most of the artist's contemporaries thought so. "Sheeler was objective before the rest of us were," claimed his friend Edward Steichen, and critics either lauded or assailed Sheeler for his seemingly straightforward acceptance of the machine. He is misunderstood today for the same reason. In the post-industrial era, Sheeler has been attacked for objectifying his subjects, for eliminating the human element from the modern landscape, and ultimately for complicity in the mechanization of the world he so accurately portrayed.

By closely investigating Sheeler's social and aesthetic contexts and through exceptionally clear and convincing visual analysis, Karen Lucic reinterprets the work of this important modernist. She argues that his images do not celebrate the machine but question its predominance during his time. They provoke us to confront the social consequences of modern technology.

Sheeler appears in this book as neither believer nor heretic in the cult of the machine. Lucic asks us to grant Sheeler his ambivalence, for it was his ambivalence that enabled him to portray modernity so splendidly.

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Codex Parisinus Graecus 1115 and Its Archetype
Alexander Alexakis
Harvard University Press, 1996

For almost three centuries, scholars have debated the credibility of the information provided in the colophon of Codex Parisinus graecus 1115. According to this inscription, the manuscript was copied in the year 1276 from another manuscript dating back to the year 774/5; the archetype originated in the papal library at Rome and contains a partial record of the Greek holdings of the library.

The majority of the texts included in the manuscript come from florilegia related to the ecumenical councils. This volume examines the use of florilegia—anthologies of earlier writings—by these councils. Analysis of the contents of the manuscript provides new information concerning, among other things, the beginning of the Filioque controversy and the use of Iconophile florilegia by the seventh ecumenical council in 787. Also revealed is the archetype's role in the negotiations between Rome and Constantinople that led to the Union of the Churches, proclaimed at the Council of Lyons II in 1274, and the indirect involvement of Thomas Aquinas through his Contra Errores Graecorurn.

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Conquest and Community
The Afterlife of Warrior Saint Ghazi Miyan
Shahid Amin
University of Chicago Press, 2016
Few topics in South Asian history are as contentious as that of the Turkic conquest of the Indian subcontinent that began in the twelfth century and led to a long period of Muslim rule. How is a historian supposed to write honestly about the bloody history of the conquest without falling into communitarian traps?
 
Conquest and Community is Shahid Amin's answer. Covering more than eight hundred years of history, the book centers on the enduringly popular saint Ghazi Miyan, a youthful soldier of Islam whose shrines are found all over India. Amin details the warrior saint’s legendary exploits, then tracks the many ways he has been commemorated in the centuries since. The intriguing stories, ballads, and proverbs that grew up around Ghazi Miyan were, Amin shows, a way of domesticating the conquest—recognizing past conflicts and differences but nevertheless bringing diverse groups together into a community of devotees. What seems at first glance to be the story of one mythical figure becomes an allegory for the history of Hindu-Muslim relations over an astonishingly long period of time, and a timely contribution to current political and historical debates.
 
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Courtesans, Concubines, and the Cult of Female Fidelity
Beverly Bossler
Harvard University Press, 2012

This book traces changing gender relations in China from the tenth to fourteenth centuries by examining three critical categories of women: courtesans, concubines, and faithful wives. It shows how the intersection and mutual influence of these groups—and of male discourses about them—transformed ideas about family relations and the proper roles of men and women.

Courtesan culture had a profound effect on Song social and family life, as entertainment skills became a defining feature of a new model of concubinage, and as entertainer-concubines increasingly became mothers of literati sons. Neo-Confucianism, the new moral learning of the Song, was significantly shaped by this entertainment culture and by the new markets—in women—that it created. Responding to a broad social consensus, Neo-Confucians called for enhanced recognition of concubine mothers in ritual and expressed increasing concern about wifely jealousy. The book also details the surprising origins of the Late Imperial cult of fidelity, showing that from inception, the drive to celebrate female loyalty was rooted in a complex amalgam of political, social, and moral agendas. By taking women—and men’s relationships with women—seriously, this book makes a case for the centrality of gender relations in the social, political, and intellectual life of the Song and Yuan dynasties.

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The Cult of Creativity
A Surprisingly Recent History
Samuel W. Franklin
University of Chicago Press, 2023
A history of how, in the mid-twentieth century, we came to believe in the concept of creativity. Named a best book of 2023 by the New Yorker and a notable book of 2023 by Behavioral Scientist.  

Creativity is one of American society’s signature values, but the idea that there is such a thing as “creativity”—and that it can be cultivated—is surprisingly recent, entering our everyday speech in the 1950s. As Samuel W. Franklin reveals, postwar Americans created creativity, through campaigns to define and harness the power of the individual to meet the demands of American capitalism and life under the Cold War. Creativity was championed by a cluster of professionals—psychologists, engineers, and advertising people—as a cure for the conformity and alienation they feared was stifling American ingenuity. It was touted as a force of individualism and the human spirit, a new middle-class aspiration that suited the needs of corporate America and the spirit of anticommunism.
 
Amid increasingly rigid systems, creativity took on an air of romance; it was a more democratic quality than genius, but more rarified than mere intelligence. The term eluded clear definition, allowing all sorts of people and institutions to claim it as a solution to their problems, from corporate dullness to urban decline. Today, when creativity is constantly sought after, quantified, and maximized, Franklin’s eye-opening history of the concept helps us to see what it really is, and whom it really serves.
 
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The Cult of Draupadi, Volume 1
Mythologies: From Gingee to Kuruksetra
Alf Hiltebeitel
University of Chicago Press, 1988
This is the first volume of a projected three-volume work on the little-known South Indian folk cult of the goddess Draupadi and on the classical epic, the Mahabharata, that the cult brings to life in mythic, ritual, and dramatic forms. Draupadi, the chief heroine of the Sanskrit Mahabharata, takes on many unexpected guises in her Tamil cult, but her dimensions as a folk goddess remain rooted in a rich interpretive vision of the great epic. By examining the ways that the cult of Draupadi commingles traditions about the goddess and the epic, Alf Hiltebeitel shows the cult to be singularly representative of the inner tensions and working dynamics of popular devotional Hinduism.
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The Cult of Draupadi, Volume 2
On Hindu Ritual and the Goddess
Alf Hiltebeitel
University of Chicago Press, 1991
This is the first volume of a projected three-volume work on the little-known South Indian folk cult of the goddess Draupadi and on the classical epic, the Mahabharata, that the cult brings to life in mythic, ritual, and dramatic forms. Draupadi, the chief heroine of the Sanskrit Mahabharata, takes on many unexpected guises in her Tamil cult, but her dimensions as a folk goddess remain rooted in a rich interpretive vision of the great epic. By examining the ways that the cult of Draupadi commingles traditions about the goddess and the epic, Alf Hiltebeitel shows the cult to be singularly representative of the inner tensions and working dynamics of popular devotional Hinduism.
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The Cult of Health and Beauty in Germany
A Social History, 1890-1930
Michael Hau
University of Chicago Press, 2003
From the 1890s to the 1930s, a growing number of Germans began to scrutinize and discipline their bodies in a utopian search for perfect health and beauty. Some became vegetarians, nudists, or bodybuilders, while others turned to alternative medicine or eugenics. In The Cult of Health and Beauty in Germany, Michael Hau demonstrates why so many men and women were drawn to these life reform movements and examines their tremendous impact on German society and medicine.

Hau argues that the obsession with personal health and fitness was often rooted in anxieties over professional and economic success, as well as fears that modern industrialized civilization was causing Germany and its people to degenerate. He also examines how different social groups gave different meanings to the same hygienic practices and aesthetic ideals. What results is a penetrating look at class formation in pre-Nazi Germany that will interest historians of Europe and medicine and scholars of culture and gender.
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The Cult of Pharmacology
How America Became the World's Most Troubled Drug Culture
Richard DeGrandpre
Duke University Press, 2006
America had a radically different relationship with drugs a century ago. Drug prohibitions were few, and while alcohol was considered a menace, the public regularly consumed substances that are widely demonized today. Heroin was marketed by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, and marijuana was available as a tincture of cannabis sold by Parke Davis and Company.

Exploring how this rather benign relationship with psychoactive drugs was transformed into one of confusion and chaos, The Cult of Pharmacology tells the dramatic story of how, as one legal drug after another fell from grace, new pharmaceutical substances took their place. Whether Valium or OxyContin at the pharmacy, cocaine or meth purchased on the street, or alcohol and tobacco from the corner store, drugs and drug use proliferated in twentieth-century America despite an escalating war on “drugs.”

Richard DeGrandpre, a past fellow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and author of the best-selling book Ritalin Nation, delivers a remarkably original interpretation of drugs by examining the seductive but ill-fated belief that they are chemically predestined to be either good or evil. He argues that the determination to treat the medically sanctioned use of drugs such as Miltown or Seconal separately from the illicit use of substances like heroin or ecstasy has blinded America to how drugs are transformed by the manner in which a culture deals with them.

Bringing forth a wealth of scientific research showing the powerful influence of social and psychological factors on how the brain is affected by drugs, DeGrandpre demonstrates that psychoactive substances are not angels or demons irrespective of why, how, or by whom they are used. The Cult of Pharmacology is a bold and necessary new account of America’s complex relationship with drugs.

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The Cult of Pythagoras
Math and Myths
Alberto A. Martinez
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012
In this follow-up to his popular Science Secrets, Alberto A. Martínez discusses various popular myths from the history of mathematics: that Pythagoras proved the hypotenuse theorem, that Archimedes figured out how to test the purity of a gold crown while he was in a bathtub, that the Golden Ratio is in nature and ancient architecture, that the young Galois created group theory the night before the pistol duel that killed him, and more. Some stories are partly true, others are entirely false, but all show the power of invention in history. Pythagoras emerges as a symbol of the urge to conjecture and “fill in the gaps” of history. He has been credited with fundamental discoveries in mathematics and the sciences, yet there is nearly no evidence that he really contributed anything to such fields at all. This book asks: how does history change when we subtract the many small exaggerations and interpolations that writers have added for over two thousand years?

The Cult of Pythagoras is also about invention in a positive sense. Most people view mathematical breakthroughs as “discoveries” rather than invention or creativity, believing that mathematics describes a realm of eternal ideas. But mathematicians have disagreed about what is possible and impossible, about what counts as a proof, and even about the results of certain operations. Was there ever invention in the history of concepts such as zero, negative numbers, imaginary numbers, quaternions, infinity, and infinitesimals?

Martínez inspects a wealth of primary sources, in several languages, over a span of many centuries. By exploring disagreements and ambiguities in the history of the elements of mathematics, The Cult of Pythagoras dispels myths that obscure the actual origins of mathematical concepts. Martínez argues that an accurate history that analyzes myths reveals neglected aspects of mathematics that can encourage creativity in students and mathematicians.

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The Cult of Statistical Significance
How the Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives
Stephen T. Ziliak and Deirdre N. McCloskey
University of Michigan Press, 2010

“McCloskey and Ziliak have been pushing this very elementary, very correct, very important argument through several articles over several years and for reasons I cannot fathom it is still resisted. If it takes a book to get it across, I hope this book will do it. It ought to.”

—Thomas Schelling, Distinguished University Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, and 2005 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics

“With humor, insight, piercing logic and a nod to history, Ziliak and McCloskey show how economists—and other scientists—suffer from a mass delusion about statistical analysis. The quest for statistical significance that pervades science today is a deeply flawed substitute for thoughtful analysis. . . . Yet few participants in the scientific bureaucracy have been willing to admit what Ziliak and McCloskey make clear: the emperor has no clothes.”

—Kenneth Rothman, Professor of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Health

The Cult of Statistical Significance shows, field by field, how “statistical significance,” a technique that dominates many sciences, has been a huge mistake. The authors find that researchers in a broad spectrum of fields, from agronomy to zoology, employ “testing” that doesn’t test and “estimating” that doesn’t estimate. The facts will startle the outside reader: how could a group of brilliant scientists wander so far from scientific magnitudes? This study will encourage scientists who want to know how to get the statistical sciences back on track and fulfill their quantitative promise. The book shows for the first time how wide the disaster is, and how bad for science, and it traces the problem to its historical, sociological, and philosophical roots.

Stephen T. Ziliak is the author or editor of many articles and two books. He currently lives in Chicago, where he is Professor of Economics at Roosevelt University. Deirdre N. McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the author of twenty books and three hundred scholarly articles. She has held Guggenheim and National Humanities Fellowships. She is best known for How to Be Human* Though an Economist (University of Michigan Press, 2000) and her most recent book, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (2006).

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The Cult Of The Court
John Brigham
Temple University Press, 1991

In recent years widespread attention has been focused on decisions handed down by the Supreme Court that grapple with passionate issues: integration, school prayer, abortion, affirmative action. The appointment of new justices is a highly charged political event although the Court is supposed to be "above" politics. Amidst the bicentennial celebration of the Constitution and almost daily reports of major confrontations awaiting the highest court’s judicial review, John Brigham presents a fresh and innovative examination of the U.S. Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional interpretation.

Drawing on philosophy and anthropology, The Cult of the Court offers a social scientific investigation of an institution whose authority has come to be taken for granted. The author emphasizes that the Court is an institution and that its authority is founded less in the claim of legal expertise than in hierarchical finality—the assertion of political will, not of legal judgment. He shows how the Court has supplanted the Constitution as the authority in our political world and that what makes legal "sense" is affected by these factors of institutionalization, bureaucratization, and court-dominated constitutionalism.

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The Cult of the Goddess Pattini
Gananath Obeyesekere
University of Chicago Press, 1984
Pattini—goddess, virgin, wife, and mother; folk deity of Sinhala Buddhists and Jains; and assimilated goddess of the Hindu pantheon—has been worshiped in Sri Lanka and South India for fifteen hundred years or more, as she still is today. This long-awaited book is the culmination of Gananath Obeyesekere's comprehensive study of the Pattini cult and its historical, sociological, and psychoanalytical role in the culture of South Asia. A well-known anthropologist and a native of Sri Lanka, Obeyesekere displays his impeccable scholarship and a stunning range of theoretical perspectives in this work, the most detailed analysis of a single religious complex in South Asian ethnography (and possibly in all of anthropology).
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The Cult of the Nation in France
Inventing Nationalism, 1680–1800
David A. Bell
Harvard University Press, 2003
Using eighteenth-century France as a case study, David Bell offers an important new argument about the origins of nationalism. Before the eighteenth century, the very idea of nation-building—a central component of nationalism—did not exist. During this period, leading French intellectual and political figures came to see perfect national unity as a critical priority, and so sought ways to endow all French people with the same language, laws, customs, and values. The period thus gave rise to the first large-scale nationalist program in history.
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The Cult of the Saints
Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity
Peter Brown
University of Chicago Press, 1982
Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, the cult of the saints was the dominant form of religion in Christian Europe. In this elegantly written work, Peter Brown explores the role of tombs, shrines, relics, and pilgrimages connected with the sacred bodies of the saints. He shows how men and women living in harsh and sometimes barbaric times relied upon the merciful intercession of the holy dead to obtain justice, forgiveness, and to find new ways to accept their fellows. Challenging the common treatment of the cult as an outbreak of superstition among the lower classes, Brown demonstrates how this form of religiousity engaged the finest minds of the Church and elicited from members of the educated upper classes some of their most splendid achievements in poetry, literature, and the patronage of the arts.

"Brown has an international reputation for his fine style, a style he here turns on to illuminate the cult of the saints. Christianity was born without such a cult; it took rise and that rise needs chronicling. Brown has a gift for the memorable phrase and sees what the passersby have often overlooked. An eye-opener on an important but neglected phase of Western development."—The Christian Century

"Brilliantly original and highly sophisticated . . . . [The Cult of the Saints] is based on great learning in several disciplines, and the story is told with an exceptional appreciation for the broad social context. Students of many aspects of medieval culture, especially popular religion, will want to consult this work."—Bennett D. Hill, Library Journal
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The Cult of the Saints
Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity, Enlarged Edition
Peter Brown
University of Chicago Press, 2014
In this groundbreaking work, Peter Brown explores how the worship of saints and their corporeal remains became central to religious life in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. During this period, earthly remnants served as a heavenly connection, and their veneration is a fascinating window into the cultural mood of a region in transition.

Brown challenges the long-held “two-tier” idea of religion that separated the religious practices of the sophisticated elites from those of the superstitious masses, instead arguing that the cult of the saints crossed boundaries and played a dynamic part in both the Christian faith and the larger world of late antiquity. He shows how men and women living in harsh and sometimes barbaric times relied upon the holy dead to obtain justice, forgiveness, and power, and how a single sainted hair could inspire great thinkers and great artists.

An essential text by one of the foremost scholars of European history, this expanded edition includes a new preface from Brown, which presents new ideas based on subsequent scholarship.
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Education and the Cult of Efficiency
Raymond E. Callahan
University of Chicago Press, 1964
Raymond Callahan's lively study exposes the alarming lengths to which school administrators went, particularly in the period from 1910 to 1930, in sacrificing educational goals to the demands of business procedures. He suggests that even today the question still asked is: "How can we operate our schools?" Society has not yet learned to ask: "How can we provide an excellent education for our children?"
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From Stone to Flesh
A Short History of the Buddha
Donald S. Lopez Jr.
University of Chicago Press, 2013
We have come to admire Buddhism for being profound but accessible, as much a lifestyle as a religion. The credit for creating Buddhism goes to the Buddha, a figure widely respected across the Western world for his philosophical insight, his teachings of nonviolence, and his practice of meditation. But who was this Buddha, and how did he become the Buddha we know and love today?
 
Leading historian of Buddhism Donald S. Lopez Jr. tells the story of how various idols carved in stone—variously named Beddou, Codam, Xaca, and Fo—became the man of flesh and blood that we know simply as the Buddha. He reveals that the positive view of the Buddha in Europe and America is rather recent, originating a little more than a hundred and fifty years ago. For centuries, the Buddha was condemned by Western writers as the most dangerous idol of the Orient. He was a demon, the murderer of his mother, a purveyor of idolatry.
 
Lopez provides an engaging history of depictions of the Buddha from classical accounts and medieval stories to the testimonies of European travelers, diplomats, soldiers, and missionaries. He shows that centuries of hostility toward the Buddha changed dramatically in the nineteenth century, when the teachings of the Buddha, having disappeared from India by the fourteenth century, were read by European scholars newly proficient in Asian languages. At the same time, the traditional view of the Buddha persisted in Asia, where he was revered as much for his supernatural powers as for his philosophical insights. From Stone to Flesh follows the twists and turns of these Eastern and Western notions of the Buddha, leading finally to his triumph as the founder of a world religion.

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Imperium and Cosmos
Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius
Paul Rehak; Edited by John G. Younger
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006
Caesar Augustus promoted a modest image of himself as the first among equals (princeps), a characterization that was as popular with the ancient Romans as it is with many scholars today. Paul Rehak argues against this impression of humility and suggests that, like the monarchs of the Hellenistic age, Augustus sought immortality—an eternal glory gained through deliberate planning for his niche in history while flexing his existing power. Imperium and Cosmos focuses on Augustus’s Mausoleum and Ustrinum (site of his cremation), the Horologium-Solarium (a colossal sundial), and the Ara Pacis (Altar to Augustan Peace), all of which transformed the northern Campus Martius into a tribute to his major achievements in life and a vast memorial for his deification after death.

Rehak closely examines the artistic imagery on these monuments, providing numerous illustrations, tables, and charts. In an analysis firmly contextualized by a thorough discussion of the earlier models and motifs that inspired these Augustan monuments, Rehak shows how the princeps used these on such an unprecedented scale as to truly elevate himself above the common citizen.       
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Isis Among the Greeks and Romans
Friedrich Solmsen
Harvard University Press, 1979

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Juan Soldado
Rapist, Murderer, Martyr, Saint
Paul J. Vanderwood
Duke University Press, 2004
Paul J. Vanderwood offers a fascinating look at the events, beliefs, and circumstances that have motivated popular devotion to Juan Soldado, a Mexican folk saint. In his mortal incarnation, Juan Soldado was Juan Castillo Morales, a twenty-four-year-old soldier convicted of and quickly executed for the rape and murder of eight-year-old Olga Camacho in Tijuana in 1938. Immediately after Morales’s death, many people began to doubt the evidence of his guilt, or at least the justice of his brutal execution. People reported seeing blood seeping from his grave and hearing his soul cry out protesting his innocence. Soon the “martyred” Morales was known as Juan Soldado, or John the Soldier. Believing that those who have died unjustly sit closest to God, people began visiting Morales’s grave asking for favors. Within months of his death, the young soldier had become a popular saint. He is not recognized by the Catholic Church, yet thousands of people have made pilgrimages to his gravesite. While Juan Soldado is well known in Tijuana, southern California’s Mexican American community, and beyond, this book is the first to situate his story within a broader exploration of how and why popular canonizations such as his take root and flourish.

In addition to conducting extensive archival research, Vanderwood interviewed central actors in the events of 1938, including Olga Camacho’s mother, citizens who rioted to demand Morales’s release to a lynch mob, those who witnessed his execution, and some of the earliest believers in his miraculous powers. Vanderwood also interviewed many present-day visitors to the shrine at Morales’s grave. He describes them, their petitions—for favors such as health, a good marriage, or safe passage into the United States—and how they reconcile their belief in Juan Soldado with their Catholicism. Vanderwood puts the events of 1938 within the context of Depression-era Tijuana and he locates people’s devotion, then and now, within the history of extra-institutional religious activity. In Juan Soldado, a gripping true-crime mystery opens up into a much larger and more elusive mystery of faith and belief.

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King Alfred the Great, his Hagiographers and his Cult
A Childhood Remembered
Tomás Mario Kalmar
Amsterdam University Press, 2023
This book situates Alfred the Great in his hagiographic context. For 150 years, the fables told in the ninth century about Alfred’s childhood have posed interlocking disciplinary challenges to historians committed to evicting romance from history. Blending current Hagiography Studies with historical, literary, and biblical hermeneutics can help us forgo the anti-hagiographic commitments which motivated the scholars who purified the Victorian cult of Alfred by expunging his legends and salvaging his historicity. The book focusses on the typological functions of three Alfredian fables from the Old English Chronicle, the Old English Boethius, and Asser’s Vita Ælfredi, analyses the plot common to all three, critiques the psychological conjecture that Alfred’s childhood memory was their common source, and shows that synoptically they can help us see how Alfred shaped the curve of his own life’s destiny and how he engaged in the formation of his own cult to last a thousand years.
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Lenin Lives!
The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia
Nina Tumarkin
Harvard University Press, 1983

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Lenin Lives!
The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia, Enlarged Edition
Nina Tumarkin
Harvard University Press, 1997
Was the deification of Lenin a show of spontaneous affection—or a planned political operation designed to solidify the revolution with the masses? This book provides a startling answer. Exploring the cult’s mystical, historical, and political aspects, Tumarkin demonstrates the galvanizing power of ritual in the establishment of the post-revolutionary regime. In a new Preface and Postscript, she brings the story up to date, considering the fall of the Soviet Union and Russia’s new democracy.
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Likeness and Presence
A History of the Image before the Era of Art
Hans Belting
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Before the Renaissance and Reformation, holy images were treated not as "art" but as objects of veneration which possessed the tangible presence of the Holy. In this magisterial book, Hans Belting traces the long history of the sacral image and its changing role in European culture.
Likeness and Presence looks at the beliefs, superstitions, hopes, and fears that come into play as people handle and respond to sacred
images, and presents a compelling interpretation of the place of the image in Western history.

"A rarity within its genre—an art-historical analysis of iconography which is itself iconoclastic. . . . One of the most intellectually exciting and historically grounded interpretations of Christian iconography." —Graham Howes, Times Literary Supplement

"Likeness and Presence offers the best source to survey the facts of what European Christians put in their churches. . . . An impressively detailed contextual analysis of medieval objects." —Robin Cormack, New York Times Book Review

"I cannot begin to describe the richness or the imaginative grandeur of Hans Belting's book. . . . It is a work that anyone interested in art, or in the history of thought about art, should regard as urgent reading. It is a tremendous achievement."—Arthur C. Danto, New Republic
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The Magdalene in the Reformation
Margaret Arnold
Harvard University Press, 2018

Prostitute, apostle, evangelist—the conversion of Mary Magdalene from sinner to saint is one of the Christian tradition’s most compelling stories, and one of the most controversial. The identity of the woman—or, more likely, women—represented by this iconic figure has been the subject of dispute since the Church’s earliest days. Much less appreciated is the critical role the Magdalene played in remaking modern Christianity.

In a vivid recreation of the Catholic and Protestant cultures that emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, The Magdalene in the Reformation reveals that the Magdalene inspired a devoted following among those eager to find new ways to relate to God and the Church. In popular piety, liturgy, and preaching, as well as in education and the arts, the Magdalene tradition provided both Catholics and Protestants with the flexibility to address the growing need for reform. Margaret Arnold shows that as the medieval separation between clergy and laity weakened, the Magdalene represented a new kind of discipleship for men and women and offered alternative paths for practicing a Christian life.

Where many have seen two separate religious groups with conflicting preoccupations, Arnold sees Christians who were often engaged in a common dialogue about vocation, framed by the life of Mary Magdalene. Arnold disproves the idea that Protestants removed saints from their theology and teaching under reform. Rather, devotion to Mary Magdalene laid the foundation within Protestantism for the public ministry of women.

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Medicine and the Saints
Science, Islam, and the Colonial Encounter in Morocco, 1877-1956
By Ellen J. Amster
University of Texas Press, 2013

The colonial encounter between France and Morocco took place not only in the political realm but also in the realm of medicine. Because the body politic and the physical body are intimately linked, French efforts to colonize Morocco took place in and through the body. Starting from this original premise, Medicine and the Saints traces a history of colonial embodiment in Morocco through a series of medical encounters between the Islamic sultanate of Morocco and the Republic of France from 1877 to 1956.

Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in both French and Arabic, Ellen Amster investigates the positivist ambitions of French colonial doctors, sociologists, philologists, and historians; the social history of the encounters and transformations occasioned by French medical interventions; and the ways in which Moroccan nationalists ultimately appropriated a French model of modernity to invent the independent nation-state. Each chapter of the book addresses a different problem in the history of medicine: international espionage and a doctor’s murder; disease and revolt in Moroccan cities; a battle for authority between doctors and Muslim midwives; and the search for national identity in the welfare state. This research reveals how Moroccans ingested and digested French science and used it to create a nationalist movement and Islamist politics, and to understand disease and health. In the colonial encounter, the Muslim body became a seat of subjectivity, the place from which individuals contested and redefined the political.

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Paideia and Cult
Christian Initiation in Theodore of Mopsuestia
Daniel L. Schwartz
Harvard University Press, 2012
Paideia and Cult explores the role of Christian education and worship in the complex process of conversion and Christianization. It analyzes the Catechetical Homilies of Theodore of Mopsuestia as a curriculum designed to train those seeking initiation into the Christian mysteries. Although Theodore gave considerable attention to teaching creedal theology, he sought to go beyond simply communicating information. His catechetical preaching set the teaching of Christian ideas within the context of religious community and ritual participation. In doing so he sought to produce a Christianized view of the world and of the convert’s place in a community of worship. Theodore’s attention to the communal, cognitive, and ritual components of initiation suggest a substantive understanding of religious conversion, yet one that avoids an overemphasis on intellectual and psychological transformation. Throughout this study catechesis emerges as invaluable for comprehending the ability of clergy to initiate new members as Christianity gained increasing prominence within the late Roman world.
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Passionate Journeys
Why Successful Women Joined a Cult
Marion S. Goldman
University of Michigan Press, 2001

Passionate Journeys explores the fascinating stories behind the Bhagwan Rajneesh phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s, focusing on women who left families, careers, and identities to join the community of Rajneeshpuram. Rajneesh was a spiritual leader for thousands of young Americans, and in rural Oregon his devotees established a thriving community. Marion S. Goldman's extensive interviews with women who participated at Rajneeshpuram provide a fascinating picture of the cultural and social climate that motivated successful, established women to join such a movement.

Passionate Journeys will appeal to specialists in feminist theory and women's studies, sociology, religious studies, American studies, and the history of the Northwest.

Marion S. Goldman is Professor of Sociology, University of Oregon. She is also the author of Gold Diggers and Silver Miners: Prostitution and Social Life on the Comstock Lode.

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Paul the Martyr
The Cult of the Apostle in the Latin West
David L. Eastman
SBL Press, 2011

Ancient iconography of Paul is dominated by one image: Paul as martyr. Whether he is carrying a sword—the traditional instrument of his execution—or receiving a martyr's crown from Christ, the apostle was remembered and honored for his faithfulness to the point of death. As a result, Christians created a cult of Paul, centered on particular holy sites and characterized by practices such as the telling of stories, pilgrimage, and the veneration of relics. This study integrates literary, archaeological, artistic, and liturgical evidence to describe the development of the Pauline cult within the cultural context of the late antique West.

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Peasants on the Edge
Crop, Cult, and Crisis in the Andes
By William P. Mitchell
University of Texas Press, 1991

Throughout Latin America and the rest of the Third World, profound social problems are growing in response to burgeoning populations and unstable economic and political systems. In Peru, terrorist acts by the Shining Path guerilla movement are the most visible manifestation of social discontent, but rapid economic and religious changes have touched the lives of almost everyone, radically altering traditional lifeways. In this twenty-year study of the community of Quinua in the Department of Ayacucho, William Mitchell looks at changes provoked by population growth within a severely limited ecological and economic setting, including increasing conversion to a cash economy and out-migration, the decline of the Catholic fiesta system and the rise of Protestantism, and growing poverty and revolution.

When Mitchell first began his field studies in Quinua in 1966, farming was still the Quinueños' principal means of livelihood. But while the population was increasing rapidly, the amount of arable land in the community remained the same, creating increased food shortfalls. At the same time, government controls on food prices and subsidies of cheap food imports drove down the value of rural farm production. These ecological and economic factors forced many people to enter the nonfarm economy to feed themselves.

Using a materialist approach, Mitchell charts the new economic strategies that Quinueños use to confront the harsh pressures of their lives, including ceramic production, wage labor, petty commerce, and migration to cash work on the coat and in the eastern tropical forests. In addition, he shows how the growing conversion from Catholicism to Protestantism is also an economic strategy, since Protestant ideology offers acceptable reasons for redirecting the money that used to be spent on elaborate religious festivals to household needs and education.

The twenty-year span of this study makes it especially valuable for students of social change. Mitchell's unique, interdisciplinary approach, considering ecological, economic, and population factors simultaneously, offers a model that can be widely applied in many Third World areas. Additionally, the inclusion of an entire chapter of family histories reveals how economic and ecological forces are played out at the individual level.

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The Poetics of Appearance in the Attic Korai
By Mary Stieber
University of Texas Press, 2004

Some of the loveliest works of Archaic art were the Athenian korai—sculptures of beautiful young women presenting offerings to the goddess Athena that stood on the Acropolis. Sculpted in the sixth and early fifth centuries B.C., they served as votives until Persians sacked the citadel in 480/79 B.C. Subsequently, they were buried as a group and forgotten for nearly twenty-four centuries, until archaeologists excavated them in the 1880s. Today, they are among the treasures of the Acropolis Museum.

Mary Stieber takes a fresh look at the Attic korai in this book. Challenging the longstanding view that the sculptures are generic female images, she persuasively argues that they are instead highly individualized, mimetically realistic representations of Archaic young women, perhaps even portraits of real people. Marshalling a wide array of visual and literary evidence to support her claims, she shows that while the korai lack the naturalism that characterizes later Classical art, they display a wealth and realism of detail that makes it impossible to view them as generic, idealized images. This iconoclastic interpretation of the Attic korai adds a new dimension to our understanding of Archaic art and to the distinction between realism and naturalism in the art of all periods.

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Poetry and the Cult of the Martyrs
The Liber Peristephanon of Prudentius
Michael Roberts
University of Michigan Press, 1993
Prudentius' Peristephanon is a collection of martyr texts from a vital period for the growth of martyr cult in the West. Building on recent work on the cult of the saints and on the sacralization of the space and time, Roberts demonstrates how the Peristephanon relates to developments in late fourth century spirituality.
The author examines how Prudentius creates an idiom to express devotion to the martyrs, particularly in the structuring of narrative and the use of poetic language. Roberts concludes by demonstrating how Prudentius employs the model of martyr cult to articulate the status of Christian literature, the role of the bishop in the Christian community, and the symbolic status of Rome in the Christian West.
Michael Roberts is Robert Rich Professor of Latin, Wesleyan University.
Jacket art: Gold-glass vase, after A.D. 350. By permission of the Trustees of the British Museum.
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Relics, Apocalypse, and the Deceits of History
Ademar of Chabannes, 989–1034
Richard Landes
Harvard University Press, 1995

This unusual biographical work traces the life and career of Ademar of Chabannes, a monk, historian, liturgist, and hagiographer who lived at the turn of the first Christian millennium. Thanks to the unique collection of over one thousand folios of autograph manuscript that Ademar left behind, Richard Landes has been able to reconstruct in great detail the development of Ademar's career and the events of his day, and to suggest several major revisions in the general picture held by current medieval historiography.

Above all, the author's research confirms and elaborates the realization (first articulated over sixty years ago by the historian Louis Saltet) that in 1029 Ademar suffered a humiliating defeat at the height of his career and spent his final five years feverishly producing a dossier of forgeries and fictions about his own contemporaries that has few parallels in the annals on medieval forgery. Not only did that dossier of forgeries succeed in misleading historians from the twelfth century right up to the twentieth, but few historians have been willing to explore the implications of so striking a revision in Ademar's biography. Richard Landes is the first to systematically examine the evidence and the implications for our understanding of the period, and he offers an explanation of how these remarkable developments might have occurred.

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The Sacred Image East and West
Edited by Robert Ousterhout and Leslie Brubaker
University of Illinois Press, 1995
A new generation of American medieval art historians explores how sacred images were perceived during the Middle Ages in Byzantium and Europe. The essays cover a full range of images, including panel paintings, altarpieces, manuscripts, and wall paintings, and a rich variety of socioreligious settings, private, monastic, and imperial. Also examined are the differences between images produced for a single viewer and those produced for communities; images produced for private contemplation or devotion and those functioned within a liturgical setting; and the varying ways in which sacred images affected women and men, religious and secular communities, rulers and ruled.
 
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Sacrifice, Cult, and Atonement in Early Judaism and Christianity
Constituents and Critique
Henrietta L. Wiley
SBL Press, 2016

Critical and creative studies that offer fresh perspectives on ancient ideas and practices

The contributions to this volume deal in various ways with the cult at the Jerusalem Temple that epitomized the religious, cultural, and socio-political identity of Judaism for many centuries. Some essays examine ancient constitutive practices and concepts, such as purification rituals, sacrifices, atonement, or sacred authorities at the temple, with the goal of interpreting their meanings for modern readers. Other essays explore alternatives to ancient cultic meaning and practice. Essays critique established traditions, attempt to renegotiate them, or use metaphor and spiritualization to expand the potential of these phenomena to serve as terminological and ideological resources. Thus they examine and affirm the continuing relevance of ancient Jewish cultic notions long after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

  • An international group of scholars representing different fields and diverse religious backgrounds
  • A thorough examination of traditions as through the lens of contemporaneous interpretive traditions such as Jewish prophecy, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Early Christian literature
  • Examination of topics such as purification, sacrifice, and atonement, and the depiction and development of sacred authority throughout the Bible
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Saint Cecilia in the Renaissance
The Emergence of a Musical Icon
John A. Rice
University of Chicago Press, 2022
This study uncovers how Saint Cecilia came to be closely associated with music and musicians.

Until the fifteenth century, Saint Cecilia was not connected with music. She was perceived as one of many virgin martyrs, with no obvious musical skills or interests. During the next two centuries, however, she inspired many musical works written in her honor and a vast number of paintings that depicted her singing or playing an instrument.
 
In this book, John A. Rice argues that Cecilia’s association with music came about in several stages, involving Christian liturgy, visual arts, and music. It was fostered by interactions between artists, musicians, and their patrons and the transfer of visual and musical traditions from northern Europe to Italy. Saint Cecilia in the Renaissance explores the cult of the saint in Medieval times and through the sixteenth century when musicians’ guilds in the Low Countries and France first chose Cecilia as their patron. The book then turns to music and the explosion of polyphonic vocal works written in Cecilia’s honor by some of the most celebrated composers in Europe. Finally, the book examines the wealth of visual representations of Cecilia especially during the Italian Renaissance, among which Raphael’s 1515 painting, The Ecstasy of Saint Cecilia, is but the most famous example. Thoroughly researched and beautifully illustrated in color, Saint Cecilia in the Renaissance is the definitive portrait of Saint Cecilia as a figure of musical and artistic inspiration.
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Saints and Sacred Matter
The Cult of Relics in Byzantium and Beyond
Cynthia Hahn
Harvard University Press
Enshrined in sumptuous metal, ivory, or stone containers, relics formed an important physical and spiritual bond between heaven and earth, linking humankind to their saintly advocates in heaven. As they were carried in liturgical processions, used in imperial ceremonies, and called upon in legal disputes and crises, relics—and, by extension, their precious containers and built shrines—provided a visible link between the living and the venerated dead. Saints and Sacred Matter explores the embodied aspects of the divine—physical remains of holy men and women and objects associated with them. Contributors explore how those remains, or relics, linked the past and present with an imagined future. Many of the chapters focus on the Christian context, both East and West, where relics testified to Christ’s presence and ministry on earth and established a powerful connection between God and humans after his resurrection. Other religious traditions from the ancient world such as Judaism and Islam are frequently thought to have had no relics, but contributions to this volume show that Muslims and Jews too had a veneration for the corporeal that is comparable to that of their Christian counterparts.
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Saints and Society
The Two Worlds of Western Christendom, 1000-1700
Donald Weinstein and Rudolph M. Bell
University of Chicago Press, 1986
In Saints and Society, Donald Weinstein and Rudolph M. Bell examine the lives of 864 saints who lived between 1000 and 1700 and the perceptions of sanctity prevalent in late medieval and early modern Europe. They also provide a substantial body of information on the people among whom the saints lived and by whom they came to be venerated. In the first part, the authors give close consideration to what the saints' lives reveal about childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; the impact of religious inspiration upon family bonds; and family influences upon religious behavior. The second part provides a composite picture of piety and its changing configuration in Latin Christendom. With the assistance of statistical analysis, the authors answer questions involving the popular perception of holiness, social class, and gender.
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Strange Tales of an Oriental Idol
An Anthology of Early European Portrayals of the Buddha
Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr.
University of Chicago Press, 2016
We tend to think that the Buddha has always been seen as the compassionate sage admired around the world today, but until the nineteenth century, Europeans often regarded him as a nefarious figure, an idol worshipped by the pagans of the Orient. Donald S. Lopez Jr. offers here a rich sourcebook of European fantasies about the Buddha drawn from the works of dozens of authors over fifteen hundred years, including Clement of Alexandria, Marco Polo, St. Francis Xavier, Voltaire, and Sir William Jones.

Featuring writings by soldiers, adventurers, merchants, missionaries, theologians, and colonial officers, this volume contains a wide range of portraits of the Buddha. The descriptions are rarely flattering, as all manner of reports—some accurate, some inaccurate, and some garbled—came to circulate among European savants and eccentrics, many of whom were famous in their day but are long forgotten in ours. Taken together, these accounts present a fascinating picture, not only of the Buddha as he was understood and misunderstood for centuries, but also of his portrayers.
 
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Thomas Aquinas's Relics as Focus for Conflict and Cult in the Late Middle Ages
The Restless Corpse
Marika Räsänen
Amsterdam University Press, 2017
This book offers a new way of looking at Saint Thomas Aquinas-not as a living man, but as a posthumous source of relics. Marika Räsänen delves deep into the strange relationship between Aquinas's physical remains and the devotional moments they enabled-in many cases in situations where the actual relics were not present, but were recreated verbally, pictorially, or allegorically. Both the actual relics and these extended manifestations of them, Räsänen shows, were equally real to the medieval spectator, though the question of the material presence of Aquinas's remains became increasingly important over time amid the political tumult of southern Italy.
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William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock 'n' Roll
By Casey Rae
University of Texas Press, 2019

William S. Burroughs's fiction and essays are legendary, but his influence on music's counterculture has been less well documented—until now. Examining how one of America's most controversial literary figures altered the destinies of many notable and varied musicians, William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock 'n' Roll reveals the transformations in music history that can be traced to Burroughs.

A heroin addict and a gay man, Burroughs rose to notoriety outside the conventional literary world; his masterpiece, Naked Lunch, was banned on the grounds of obscenity, but its nonlinear structure was just as daring as its content. Casey Rae brings to life Burroughs's parallel rise to fame among daring musicians of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, when it became a rite of passage to hang out with the author or to experiment with his cut-up techniques for producing revolutionary lyrics (as the Beatles and Radiohead did). Whether they tell of him exploring the occult with David Bowie, providing Lou Reed with gritty depictions of street life, or counseling Patti Smith about coping with fame, the stories of Burroughs's backstage impact will transform the way you see America's cultural revolution—and the way you hear its music.

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