Heavenly Discourses, edited by Nicholas Campion

Heavenly Discourses

 

Proceedings of the 2011 Heavenly Discourses: Myth, Astronomy and Culture conference, Bristol, UK

Editor: Nicholas Campion

Series: Studies in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, Vol. 7


Publisher: Sophia Centre Press 2016

Price: £40.00 Paperback, 410 pp.

ISBN 978-1-907767-07-4

 

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Life on Earth would not exist without the brilliant objects we see in it; we would not be here without the light and heat of the Sun, and the rhythmic, tidal, biologically-vital, influences of the Moon. From earliest recorded history and in all societies the stars and planets, indeed the entire sky, have been a source of meaning for human affairs. In many cultures the heavenly bodies speak to humanity and, often, humanity talks back. Sometimes the stars speak for themselves as divine entities. In much western art and literature they become metaphors, underpinning narratives – and discourses – which explore or dramatise the human condition, as in the epic narratives of modern, cinematic science fiction. And for millennia human beings have imagined a journey to the heavens. This dream finally became a reality on 12 April 1961 when Yuri Gagarin made his single, historic orbit of the Earth. This date inaugurated the period of human space travel, and has a claim to be one of the most significant moments of human history.

The Heavenly Discourses conference was a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Gagarin’s achievement, held at the University of Bristol and sponsored by the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. This volume brings together selected papers from that conference and provides a valuable resource in the emerging discipline of Cultural Astronomy.

 

Praise for Heavenly Discourses
More than half a century after Yuri Gagarin’s historic orbit of the Earth it’s easy to take the technological trappings of the Space Age for granted. But, in Heavenly Discourses, we’re reminded that humanity’s exploration of the universe beyond our home planet has always been a cultural as well as a technical endeavour.

 

This book marshals a sweeping survey of these cultural impacts, from science to poetry, via art, religion and popular culture, and sketching a history that includes Roman cults, Japanese folktales and English cathedrals as well as NASA’s Apollo programme and the contemporary search for extraterrestrial life.

 

As editor Nicholas Campion observes, space exploration is a psychological enterprise, and one which carries with it many of our greatest hopes and aspirations. By giving us an overview of our age-old obsession with the skies, Heavenly Discourses hints at a truly cosmic vision of what it means to be human.

 

Dr Marek Kukula
Public Astronomer
Royal Observatory Greenwich

Dr Nicholas Campion is senior lecturer in Archaeology, History and Anthropology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, director of the Sophia Centre, and course director of the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology. His books include What do Astrologers Believe? (Oxford: Granta, 2006), the two-volume A History of Western Astrology (London: Continuum, 2008-9), Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions (New York: New York University Press, 2012) and Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West: Prophecy, Cosmology and the New Age Movement (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2012).

A Letter of Welcome:
Yuri Gagarin Russian State Scientific Research and
Experimental Cosmonaut Training Centre

 

Introduction: Discourse with the Heavens
Nicholas Campion

 

On the Exhibition
Darrelyn Gunzburg

 

Part One: Heavenly Discourses

 

Into the Blue: Transcendental Access and Celestial Ascent
E. C. Krupp

 

The Ancient Mithraeum as a Model Universe, Part 1
Roger Beck

 

Under a Star-Spangled Banner: Politics and Astral Religion in the Roman Empire
Shannon Grimes

 

Celestial Vaults in English Gothic Architecture
John Hendrix

 

They Were Like Them: The Stars in Mesoamerican Imagery
Stanisław Iwaniszewski

 

Three Russian Cosmists: Fedorov, Tsiolkovsky, Chizhevsky
George M. Young

 

Part Two: Discourses in Words

 

Man, Mystery, Myth and Metaphor: Poetry and The Heavens
Gillian Clarke

 

The Stars’ Earthly Mirror: Heavenly Inversions in the Oresteia of Aeschylus
Ben Pestell

 

Travelling the Cosmos: Celestial Journeys in the Japanese Stories of ‘Urashima Taro’ and ‘Night of the Milky Way Railroad’
Steven L. Renshaw

 

Space for Uncertainty: The Movement of Celestial Bodies in the Exeter Book Riddles
Jennifer Neville

 

Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy as Reference Point for Federici Zuccari’s Later Oeuvre (1575-1607)
Simone Westermann

 

Celestial Bodies in the Writings of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499)
Valery Rees

 

The Heavens and King Lear
Nick Davis

 

Spiritual Symbolism in W. B. Yeats’s ‘The Phases of the Moon’
Faisal A. W. Hayder Al-Doori

 

Septentrion: Ursa Major in the Fin de Siècle
Leon Burnett

 

To the Stars and Back: The Influence of Manned Space Flight on Soviet Science Fiction
Natalia Karakulina

 

Interstellar Messaging: An Embodied Perspective
Carrie Paterson

 

Fictional Explorations of Astronomy: How to Reach the Parts Other Narratives Miss
Pippa Goldschmidt

 

Part Three: Discourses in Sound

 

Heavenly Discourses: Myth, Astronomy and Culture
June Boyce-Tillman

 

Astrosonic Edutainment: Or, Tales from a Dark Sky Park
Chris Dooks

 

Part Four: Discourses in Images

 

Seeing Earth: Transformational Representations of the Universe in the Stars
Jürgen Heinrichs

 

Astronomy and Cosmology in Byzantine Art: Bringing Byzantine Art into the Twenty-First Century
Valerie Shrimplin

 

Giorgio Vasari’s ‘Sala Degli Elementi’ in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence: The Symbolism of Saturn as Heavenly Air
Liana De Girolami Cheney

 

Holbein’s Horizons: The Cosmos of a German Artist in the Age of the Reformation
Jennifer A. Morris

 

Lost World: Images of Mars Before the Space Age
Clive Davenhall

 

Cosmic Stutters: Anselm Kiefer’s Search for Redemption in the Stars
John G. Hatch

 

Melancholy and Beauty in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine and
Julia Kristeva’s Black Sun
Ruth McPhee

 

Illustrated Sky: Contemporary Depictions of the Classical Constellations
Melanie Schlossberg

 

The Cosmos from Outside: Views of the World and Cognitive Cobwebs
Michael Hoepfel

 

Ethical Implications of Astrophotography and Stargazing
Dietmar Hager

 

Revealing a Universe of Colour
David Malin