The work of this research group focuses on analyses of how authority is generated, transformed, and challenged by means of material and aesthetic media. The research group is interested in the roles that material, visual, and textual (etc.) media play in the construction, maintenance, negotiation or struggles about authority in various historical contexts. Religious or other forms of authority may be negotiated and changed by means of alternative or new media, just as shifting technological and material conditions for the dissemination of media offer new frames for the use of authority or enable its insertion into new networks. Authority may also be ascribed to material artefacts or to particular types of media. Often an exchange or tension is visible between certain (often textual) media which are ascribed authority, and other media and types of materiality, which challenge and change sanctioned and authoritative media, or may be used to challenge and change other forms of authority.
The research fields investigated by members of this group cover areas such as controversies over religious authority with regard to the use of images, blasphemy, and the rewriting of authoritative texts in new or alternative media; the genesis or negotiation of various forms of authority by means of materiality in objects, monuments, sounds, and visual forms of expression; and the travel or mobility of authoritative stories or images across media, social subsystems, networks or cultural contexts. The ambition of this new cross-disciplinary research field is to advance collaboration between the disciplines of the Department of History, and to generate mutual inspiration, as well as to enable students to learn from new research trends. Participating scholars come from the disciplines of History, Middle Eastern Studies, Medieval Studies, Classical Studies, and the Study of Religion