Images are central to a variety of religious traditions; the Christian tradition alone sustains widely circulated images of the person and of the divine. There has been a broad turn in many contemporary theologies to readdress questions concerning ‘imago dei’, the notion that humans are created in the image of God. The concept raises anthropological questions, about what it means to be human in relation to God (or indeed any godhead/creator figure in various religions), as well as the mediation of the material image.

This conference seeks to explore the interconnection of images iconographic and idolatrous. The body of Christ is a classic theme in the history of Christian art, and is also endemic in popular culture. In television, film and advertising images of the body transgress the boundaries of the sacred and the profane. As well as the dissemination of these images, discussions may focus on the ways in which these images are received, enacted, and appropriated.

In 21st century societies, we are subject to a variety of images drawn from a range of religious and theological traditions. Other contributions could involve avatars, various incarnations of the divine and reflections on the nature of the (human) self.

We welcome proposals for papers from postgraduates working in Theology or a related discipline (such as Anthropology, History, History of Art, Literature, Sociology, Philosophy, Cultural Studies) that respond to these themes and questions. Topics that fall under the title of Images, Icons and Idols may respond to the notions of shaping, making, and breaking images, and can include (but are not limited to):

  • Images and likeness, normative anthropologies
  • Theological images in popular culture, films and television (sacred/secular)
  • Christology (Christ in high and low cultures)
  • Visual art (Icons; images of God, Christ, gods; images of the human; gendered images)
  • Written word (and visual text), hermeneutics and image, theological metaphor, the grammar of theology, signs
  • Violence (iconoclasm, images as agents of power or control)
  • Images/broken images, broken bodies; beautiful and grotesque images, ethics and aesthetics, desire
  • Performed, embodied, enacted images (drama, theatre)
  • Symbols, clothing, jewellery, amulets
  • Mysticism (images in the lives of saints/prophets, and the saint/prophet as image)
  • Formative images (education, advertising, pedagogy)
  • Human rights and animal rights
  • Avatars, angels, demons, spectres
  • Idols, idolatry and ideology
  • Eschatology, Apocalypse (images and visions of the end)
  • Soteriology, Ecclesiology (Church as visible body of Christ)

Abstracts of up to 300 words, accompanied by a brief author biography (up to 100 words), including research interests and affiliation, are to be submitted by 31st October 2014.

Please use the form here to submit your abstract and personal details.

We also welcome panel proposals of groups of three or four for a 1 hour 30 minute session. If you are interested in assembling a panel with a specific focus relating to the broader themes of the conference, please submit the individual paper proposals using the form below, and then send an email to the organisers ( detailing the content, scope and aims of the panel and the name and contact details of the proposed panel chair (you may apply to be both a panel chair and a speaker on separate panels).

There will be some bursaries available for postgraduates traveling to speak at the conference (from within the UK); more details will be available later in the year.


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