Dr. Collett presents on pilgrimage and memory on Internet

Dr. Collett presents on pilgrimage and memory in the Internet age

Published: January 25, 2010.

As part of the Art of Memory series, Dr. Maryellen D. Collett, assistant professor of theology at Lewis University, delivered a presentation on Jan. 21 entitled “Virtually Sacred: Pilgrimage and Memory in the Internet Age.”

Collett used interdisciplinary tools from religious studies as well as media studies to explore configurations of sacred time and sacred space in the virtual realm. Keeping in mind traditional models of pilgrimage, she considered the impact of technology on the possibilities for pilgrimage in the Internet age, including opportunities for virtual pilgrimage and rituals of sacred memory.

For Collett, a pilgrimage is an act of transformative memory where a person is internally moved. She used the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Shrine in Lourdes, France, as an example of a place that cannot be reproduced, questioning whether or not those who visit the replica at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., can possibly have the full experience. She showed her audience how prayers can now be submitted via email.

To explore how technology has impacted our lives, Collett accessed Second Life, a free three-dimensional virtual world computer program, where avatars can enter different worlds, and visit places such as Our Lady of Lourdes in France. She challenged her listeners to determine whether or not virtual reality is distorting reality. Participants felt that a person does not necessarily have to physically be somewhere because mentally entering in can be just as moving and powerful.

The Art of Memory series is presented by the Lewis University History Center: Urban, Cultural and Catholic History of the Upper Midwest, which supports a biannual symposium. It is also a part of Lewis University’s Arts & Ideas Program, providing cultural and educational programming for students and the community. These events are free of charge and open to the public. For further information, please contact Dr. Ewa Bacon at (815) 836-5568.

A Catholic university sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis offers nearly 80 undergraduate majors and programs of study, accelerated degree completion options for working adults, various aviation programs and 22 graduate programs in nine fields. The ninth largest private, not-for-profit university in Illinois is being honored for the sixth consecutive year by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.

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