The Boston University Program in Scripture and The Arts is focused on the exploration of sacred texts in religious traditions across time and around the world. Our goal is to increase awareness of scripture in the sacred and secular arts, including: literature, music, performance and visual arts from painting and calligraphy to film.
The program works to cultivate interdisciplinary links among Boston University departments such as Religion, Judaic Studies, Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, Romance Studies, English, Creative Writing, History, Art History, and the School of Theology.
The Luce Program for Scripture and the Literary Arts
The Boston University Program in Scripture and Literary Arts was created in 2000, thanks to a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation in New York. Though that grant expired in 2008, the program continues with strong support from Boston University.
Launched with the goal of exploring the “imaginative afterlives” of Christian and Jewish Scripture in sacred and secular texts, the program was designed to gradually expand to explore both literary and visual art forms and to broaden in scope to incorporate a multiplicity of scriptural traditions. The program has incorporated a number of different offerings, including undergraduate courses in Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences, specialist training for graduate students, and conferences and performance events designed to bring together scholars and students from various disciplines.
Expanding on its initial focus on the literary tradition, the Luce Program implemented a new grant in July 2005 and shortened its name to the “Luce Program for Scripture and the Arts”. This change marked its expansion to incorporate a new element—the Visual Arts— that included the creation of the new Luce Visiting Professor in Scripture and the Visual Arts. This grant was designed to allow a visiting art historian in the Department of Religion to offer courses, give public lectures, and help us think about the place of visual culture in religion. The scholars-in-residence were: Professor Gauvin Bailey, Professor Kristin Schwain, and Professor Susanna Caroselli.
For more on this previous phase of the program, please visit our archived mission statement from the Luce Program for Scripture and the Arts.
Moving Forward: Today’s BU Program in Scripture and the Arts
When Peter Hawkins left the University in 2008, the administration recognized the remarkable contribution that he and the Luce Foundation-funded Program in Scripture and Literary Arts had made since 2000 and was eager to see the Department of Religion continue and build upon that work. Rather than appointing a single faculty member to direct the newly renamed Program in Scripture and the Arts, the Department organized a new interdisciplinary directorial committee made up of faculty from across the University whose various disciplines, methodologies, and research interests reflect the expanded goals of the Program.
In the current academic year the committee includes faculty members from throughout Boston University: the Departments of Religion, Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, English, and Art History, and the School of Theology have all been represented. In addition, committee members’ work ranges from antiquity to the twenty-first century, and from China and the Near East to Europe and North America. Going forward the Program’s definition of “scripture” will continue to broaden to include sacred text across a wide range of traditions and arts.