A Universe of Terms: Religion in Visual Metaphor - A Conversation with Mona Oraby
From jlegath Legath
How can we foster a more inclusive, responsible, and communicative future? What if illustrated scholarship is one way to get there?
Organized around eight terms in the study of religion, the groundbreaking, multifaceted book A Universe of Terms: Religion in Visual Metaphor combines text and image to examine the human as both catalyst of crisis and principal agent for its mitigation. Mona Oraby and Emilie Flamme—a professor and an illustrator—were spurred to create an alternative form for scholarly communication, one that stages conversations between thinkers who likely would not all find themselves in the same room. This graphic nonfiction book acknowledges the significance of certain terms to the social sciences and the humanities, narrates their limitations, and shows why we need a structure and style for thinking them otherwise. It further urges the iterative rethinking of any new terms this exercise yields. Through its unique visual lexicon, A Universe of Terms explores religious media in postcolonial and secular contexts, performances of religious feeling, the political economy of religion, sacred presence, and human striving amid social inequality and climate change. Beautifully illustrated and inspired by a range of media from graphic novels to podcasts, A Universe of Terms is a visual experiment, one that invites readers to think again and anew about how the visual is integral to thought.
Mona Oraby is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University and Editor of The Immanent Frame, a digital publication of the Social Science Research Council that advances scholarly debate on secularism, religion, and the public sphere.