Questions of authority are perennial. Authority has been and still is a key topic in many studies of history, society, literature, and religion, just as it is a key issue in contemporary societies. In spite of the scholarly attention, authority continues to have an elusive quality.
Reframing Authority provides new perspectives by focusing on the role of materiality and media for questions of authority, as well as on the changing roles of authority historically and cross-culturally. The volume argues that forms of mediation and materiality are crucial in any constitution, contestation, or transformation of authority. New understanding of authority can be gained by focusing on materiality and media in situations where authority is created, contested, or transformed in different historical eras and cultures.
As the in-depth historical case studies show, authority is dependent upon a range of media and materiality forms – objects, paraphernalia, spaces and spatial practices, visual culture, literary forms, technologies, and bodies. Thus, authority is vulnerable and in need of continual maintenance, as struggles against, negotiations of, and transformations within authority constellations demonstrate. Reframing Authority demonstrates the fundamental relational nature of authority, makes a contribution to broader debates in the human sciences and offers a long historical perspective, ranging from ancient Rome and Christianity, to medieval literature, the early modern, modern, and contemporary eras in Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, Mexico and the US.
Laura Feldt Associate Professor; Head of the research programme Authority, materiality and media; Member of the Department Council of the Department of History, Secretary of the Danish Association for the Study of Religions, Managing editor (with G.D. Alles), Numen - International Review of the History of Religions. Christian Hogel Professor and Co-director of Centre for Medieval Literature, Department of History, University of Southern Denmark