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HIS5030: Owning and sharing holy matter: texts, artefacts and places

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General information | General information | Course requirements | Course requirements | Final assessment | Final assessment | Course objective and content | Course objective and content | Literature 

Person responsible for the course:Liv Ingeborg Lied (
Credit points (ECTS):10
Start of studies:Autumn
Study programme:Master's degree (2 years) - History of Religions
Master's degree (2 years) - Theology
Department:Department of Theology and History
Examination support material permitted:List F 2

General information

HIS5030 - Owning and sharing holy matter: texts, artefacts and places introduces a major, and yet still understudied, dimension of religious life: its material dimension. In this course we will discuss select case studies of texts, places and artefacts from the whole geographical and chronological range of the program. We will explore a large variety of different materials, such as images, maps, manuscripts, architectural and archeological remains. The course also provides theoretical perspectives on materiality and media, with a particular focus on the three key categories of religious matter discussed in the course, helping us understand the ways in which they are owned, shared and contested, across diverse traditions.
HIS5030 - Owning and sharing holy matter: texts, artefacts and places is an obligatory course in the Master's programme in History of Religions.

Course requirements

In order to receive a final assessment, the student must:
  • Take part in a minimum of 50% of the lectures.
  • Take part in a minimum of 50% of the seminars.
  • Submit a one-page outline of an essay of 4000-4500 words, which must be approved by the professor.
  • Submit and have approved a full first draft of the essay by the date stipulated in the syllabus.
  • Participate in the evaluation of the course if such evaluation is stipulated in the relevant term.
When course requirements are not fulfilled this will count as one examination attempt, unless you withdraw within the set deadline (1 May/ 1 November).

Final assessment

To gain credit for the course the student must fulfill all the requirements. The final grade will be based on the essay (4000-4500 words) and a four-hour written exam. The course is assessed with grades A-F.

Course objective and content

The student has:
  • thorough knowledge of religious materialised practices;
  • good knowledge of engagement with scriptural texts, textual artefacts and narrative clusters;
  • good knowledge of conceptual thinking and practical uses of images and relics in various religious traditions;
  • good knowledge of the significance of places, monuments and topographical narratives in some specific religious traditions.
The student can:
  • apply academic concepts and theories to analyze and interpret religious materialized practices
  • write an essay in accordance with the academic standards introduced in the course
  • participate and contribute in academic seminars, receiving and making use of relevant response


To access electronic literature when you are not at MF:
Log in to Oria, or use "External access" in the library's list of databases.

  • Brown, M. P. (2013). Images to be read and words to be seen: The iconic role of early medieval books. I J. W. Watts (Ed.), Iconic books and texts (p. 93-118). Sheffield: Equinox. Library (Compendium)
  • Brown, P. R. L. (1981). The cult of the saints: Its rise and function in Latin Christianity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Library
  • Davies, W. D. (1974). The Gospel and the land: Early Christianity and Jewish territorial doctrine (p. 3-48). Berkeley, L.A.: University of California Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Engelke, M. (2012). Material religion. I R. A. Orsi (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to religious studies (p. 211-229). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Habel, N. C. (1995). The land is mine: Six biblical land ideologies (p. 134-148). Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Hallisey, C. (1995). Roads taken and not taken in the study of Theravada Buddhism. I D. S. Lopez (Ed.), Curators of the Buddha: The study of Buddhism under colonialism (p. 31-61). Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Jørgensen, H. H. L. (2015). Sensorium: A model for medieval perception. I H. H. L. Jørgensen, H. Laugerud & L. K. Skinnebach (Ed.), The saturated sensorium: Principles of perception and mediation in the Middle Ages (p. 24-70). Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Lidov, A. (2014). The holy fire and visual constructs of Jerusalem, east and west. I B. Kühnel, G. Noga-Banai & H. Vorholt (Ed.), Visual constructs of Jerusalem (p. 241-249). Turnhout: Brepols Publ. Library (Compendium)
  • Meyer, B. (2009). Introduction: From imagined communities to aesthetic formations: Religious mediations, sensational forms, and styles of binding. I B. Meyer (Ed.), Aesthetic formations: Media, religion, and the senses (p. 1-17). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Library (Compendium)
  • Milstein, R. (2014). King Solomon's temple and throne as models in islamic visual culture. I B. Kühnel, G. Noga-Banai & H. Vorholt (Ed.), Visual constructs of Jerusalem (p. 187-194). Turnhout: Brepols Publ. Library (Compendium)
  • Naef, S. (2013). Representing prophets and saints in Islam: From classical positions to present-day reactions. I N. Göle (Ed.), Islam and public controversy in Europe (p. 101-112). Farnham: Ashgate. Library (Compendium)
  • Noble, T. F. X. (2009). Images, iconoclasm, and the Carolingians (p. 10-110). Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press. Library
  • Reckwitz, A. (2002). The status of the "material" in theories of culture: From "social structure" to "artefacts". Journal for the theory of social behaviour, 32(2), p. 195-217. Library. Hentet fra
  • Reudenbach, B. (2014). Holy places and their relics. I B. Kühnel, G. Noga-Banai & H. Vorholt (Ed.), Visual constructs of Jerusalem (p. 197-206). Turnhout: Brepols Publ. Library (Compendium)
  • Shalev-Eyni, S. (2014). Reconstructing Jerusalem in the Jewish liturgical realm: The Worms synagogue and its legacy. I B. Kühnel, G. Noga-Banai & H. Vorholt (Ed.), Visual constructs of Jerusalem (p. 161-169). Turnhout: Brepols Publ. Library (Compendium)
  • Soja, E. W. (2000). Thirdspace: Expanding the scope of geographical imagination. I A. Read (Ed.), Architecturally speaking: Practices of art, architecture and the everyday (p. 13-30). London: Routledge. Library (Compendium)
  • Stewart, C. (2009). Yours, mine, or theirs?: Historical observations on the use, collection and sharing of manuscripts in western Europe and the Christian orient (p. 1-28). Piscataway, N. J.: Gorgias Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Strong, J. S. (2004). Relics of the Buddha (p. 1-24, 229-240). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Stroumsa, G. G. (2015). The making of the Abrahamic religions in late antiquity (p. 1-20). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Suit, N. K. (2013). Mushaf and the material boundaries of the Qur'an. I J. W. Watts (Ed.), Iconic books and texts (p. 189-206). Sheffield: Equinox. Library (Compendium)
  • Watts, J. W. (2013). The three dimensions of scriptures. I J. W. Watts (Ed.), Iconic books and texts (p. 9-32). Sheffield: Equinox. Library (Compendium)

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