Modernity and Religion Keynote Lecture: Cynthia Paces on Nation-Building

The first event of our workshop Modernity and Religion in Central European Art and Architecture will take place at

18.00 CET on 4 February 2021

on Zoom.

Cynthia Paces (The College of New Jersey, NJ)

will present her keynote lecture:

Nation-Building: Religious Structures and Politics in Interwar Europe

The Catholic Church has long had a difficult relationship with ‘modernism.’ In September 1907, Pius X issued a Papal Encyclical denouncing Catholic Modernism as ‘the synthesis of all heresies.’ Following the encyclical, several Catholic modernist scholars were excommunicated or denied Christian burial. Yet, efforts to reform the Roman Catholic Church continued into the interwar era. Following the war, a new generation of Catholic intellectuals and artists revived earlier debates about Early Church history, the individual’s relationship with God, and national interpretations of spirituality.

Architecture became a medium through which to explore the relationship between spirituality and modernity. A liturgical movement that took hold in Western and Central Europe began to reimagine the ways churches functioned as sacred space. The philosophical and artistic questions were timely as increased urban populations and expansion into suburbs created a need for new parish churches.

This talk will highlight some of the most innovative church architecture from 1920s and 1930s Europe, particularly Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, Poland, and Belgium. This comparison allows us to see modern sacred architecture’s shared attributes, as well as the unique national and local influences on interwar sacred spaces.

Cynthia Paces is Professor of History at The College of New Jersey. She is a historian of modern Europe, with a specialty in East-Central Europe. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to history, she incorporates art, architecture, film, gender, religion, and medicine into her teaching and research.  Professor Paces has published two books and many articles. Prague Panoramas: National Memory and Sacred Space in the Twentieth Century investigates the relationship of public art to national politics in Czechoslovakia. 1989: End of the Twentieth Century gathered primary documents to help students understand the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tienanmen Square protests in China, and other remarkable events during that year of social movements.

The lecture is free to attend, but you need to register. Click here for the registration form. See the full workshop schedule here.

Watch the lecture on our Youtube channel:

This workshop is part of a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 786314).

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