Podcast episode explores creation: medieval poems to Thai temples

“Crafting Belief from Medieval Dreamscapes to Thai Buddhist Temple,” a new episode of “The Humanities Pod” podcast, explores the language and materiality of belief through literary and anthropological methods of humanities research.

“Medieval thinkers can help us reconfigure our relationships to other people, …our environment, and to objects and technologies within it,” Adin Lears, Society for the Humanities Fellow and assistant professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University said in the episode.

Lears is a scholar of literary and medieval studies whose work examines the roles of sensation, affect, embodiment, and language in medieval theories of knowledge and their cultural and social contexts. Her first book, World of Echo: Noise and Knowing in Late Medieval England (Cornell University Press, 2020), shows how medieval thinkers conceived of the experience and expression of lay understanding in terms of noise, amplifying the history of cultural and social hierarchies around aesthetic experience and giving voice to alternate ways of knowing.

Also in this episode, Anthony Lovenheim Irwin, Society for the Humanities Fellow and scholar of Asian religions, talks, teaches, and writes about the social and ethical resonance of crafting, building, and construction. Dealing primarily with Buddhism in Thailand, his work focuses on the importance of craftspeople as central figures in the transmission and definition of religious traditions and communities. Irwin’s current book project, “Building Buddhism in Chiang Rai, Thailand: Construction as Religion,” is as much about what Buddhist people do and make as it is about what they believe.

“A big part of what focusing on crafting and material production can show us as people who observe or analyze the world, is the way people talk about the built environment, how it's built, who builds it, why things are built… [people] are really articulating their ideas of what's good and bad, what's right and wrong,” Irwin said in the episode.

“The Humanities Pod,” from Cornell’s Society for the Humanities, showcases the new and exciting work of humanists at and around Cornell through informal conversations with faculty, fellows, and special guests.

“The Humanities Pod” episodes are available for download on iTunes, Spotify, and for streaming on the Society for the Humanities website where transcripts are also posted.

Tyler Lurie-Spicer is events coordinator for the Society for the Humanities.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.


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