2019–2020 Topic:
Looking at Home: Domestic Space and Early Christianity

Co-Chairs: Jillian Stinchcomb and Theodora Naqvi

Popular piety defined the lives of the majority of people in the Middle Ages, as well as those of often neglected groups, including women, children, and slaves. Yet its importance as a subject is hindered by weighty methodological and theoretical challenges. In fields where the majority of primary resources were written by the elite, and archaeological evidence is sporadic, how does one reconstruct the everyday believer, the non-orthodox praxis, and popular piety, and situate it within a robust historical context? This problem when faced by scholars in their own areas, periods, and disciplines often appears intractable. The vision of the PSCO talks this year is to attempt to broach this issue from a comparative perspective, bringing together a group of scholars from a variety of periods and disciplines whose research attends to religion and piety of the everyday and the regular. This conversation is essential in order to bring nuance into meta narratives of various religious traditions that are mostly shaped by elite perspectives.