Marty Center Senior Fellow Symposium
by Betty M. Bayer
Thursday, May 15, 4:00pm
Swift Hall Common Room
Betty M. Bayer will deliver her Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion Senior Fellows Symposium:
“Endings Without End: When Prophecy Fails and the Rise of New Age Spirituality and Cognitive Dissonance.”
A reception will follow.
Professor Bayer is Professor of Women’s Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, a Martin Marty Center Senior Fellow for 2013-2014, and a very close friend of Shimer College.
Bayer’s current project is a history of the renowned 1956 book When Prophecy Fails by social psychologists Felon Festinger, Henry Reicken, and Stanley Schachter and its place in the longer and larger history of debate amongst religion, psychology, spirituality and science on the soul or psyche. Situated in mid-1950s America, When Prophecy Fails enters the scene amidst cybernetic science, a time of reframing religion to become “newly psychological” (Ellwood, 1997), a shift in psychology toward cognition and away from behaviorism, and the stirrings of new age spirituality. The book as the theory it introduces thus marks a critical turning point in the long history of interplay amongst psychology, religion, science, and spirituality.
The Martin Marty Center encourages advanced research in the diverse disciplines of the study of religion. Each year, the Center hosts fellows under a variety of programs. Senior Fellows are scholars from around the world, typically on leave from their home institutions. They situate their research within a broader cultural frame of reference, bringing their perspectives to bear on religious questions facing the wider public. They do so in the Marty Seminar, in which they present their work and critically discuss the presentations of other fellows, and by delivering a Marty Center symposium.