it’s a start?

This treatment concerns the material ways in which religious identity is predicated through an examination of two self-declared nineteenth century American Hebrew prophets,Mordecai Noah and Robert Matthews. According to their contemporaries’ perceptions, Noah and Matthews each exhibited extremes of performative religious activity in terms of their dress,rituals, public identity and religious interpretations. As embodiments of fringe religious beliefs, this work argues that each man distinctively self-stylized their bodies and public presences in an effort to give credence their unorthodox religious identities and prerogatives. The following seeks to uncover the ways in which these historical actors physically represented themselves and their belief systems. Specific attention therefore is paid to the material culture of religious adherence and promulgation in an effort to explore the activity of religious belief on a trans-sensory scale. By re-imagining the stories of Mordecai Noah and Robert Matthews in this theoretic framework, new attention is brought to the dimensionality of nineteenth fringe religious culture especially in the practices of ceremony, propaganda, and display.


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