Areas of Study
Email Address
Benedict Hall 108

S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate’s teaching and research explores how human sense perceptions affect ways of being religious, and how the operations of religious traditions impact our sensual encounters. Investigating the material cultures of religious traditions, Plate's work is interdisciplinary, moving between developments in cultural anthropology, art history, film studies, and cognitive science, along with religious studies. Book-length publications include Blasphemy: Art that Offends (2006), Religion and Film (Wallflower Press, 2008), The Religion and Film Reader (2007), and A History of Religion in 5½ Objects (2014). He is co-founder and managing editor of Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief, and serves on the  editorial boards of the Journal of the AAR, and others.

Recent Courses Taught

Artists' Books and Sacred Texts
Religious Diversity in the U.S.A.
Pop Culture/Pop Religion
Seminar: Religion, Art and Visual Culture
Seminar: Religion and Media
Spirituality and Sensuality: Sacred Objects in Religious Life (EdX)


  • American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship, 2021 
  • Public Philosophy Seminar (P.I.), Levitt Center at Hamilton College grant for "Interfaith/Interfilm" film series and seminars held in Utica, NY, 2018
  • AHA! group grant, “Meaningful Experiences: Critical and Creative Reflections on Experiential Learnings,” Hamilton College, 2018-19
  • FIRST scholar (Faculty-In-Residence-Summer-Term), University of Colorado, Boulder, Summer, 2014
  • Franklin Research Grant–American Philosophical Society, 2013
  • Dean's Scholarly Achievement Award, Hamilton College, 2013
  • American Academy of Religion Individual Research Grant, 2009
  • Visiting Fellow, Baker-Nord Humanities Center, Case Western Reserve University, Autumn term, 2006
  • Fulbright German Studies Seminar Grant, 2004
  • Association for Religion and Intellectual Life, Coolidge Fellowship, 2004

Selected Publications and Creative Projects

Books and Chapters

  • Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World (London: Wallflower Press; New York: Columbia University Press, 2017)
  • A History of Religion in 5½ Objects (Boston: Beacon Press, March 2014)
  • Religion in Museums, co-edited with Gretchen Buggeln, and Crispin Paine (London: Bloomsbury, 2017)
  • Key Terms in Material Religion, edited (London: Bloomsbury 2015
  • Blasphemy: Art that Offends (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2006)
  • Walter Benjamin, Religion, and Aesthetics: Rethinking Religion Through the Arts (New York: Routledge, 2005)
  • By the Way: Dispatches, Devotions, and Deliriums from the Camino de Santiago (Killing the Buddha Publishing, 2017). 
  • “Cinema,” in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • “Visual Arts and Culture,” in Vocabulary for the Study of Religion, Robert Segal and Kocku von Stuckrad, eds. (Leiden: Brill, 2015)
  • “Ornament and the Other: Sacred Spaces and Religious Identities in Andalusia,” in Religious Representation in Place: Exploring Meaningful Spaces at the Intersection of the Humanities and Sciences, Mark George and Daria Pezzoli-Olgiati, eds. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
  • “Looking at Words: The Iconicity of the Page,” Iconic Books and Texts, James Watts, ed. (London: Equinox, 2013)
  • “A Nation Birthed in Blood: Violent Cosmogonies and American Film,” in From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America, John Carlson and Jonathan Ebel, eds. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2012)

Journal Articles

  • “Visualizing the Cosmos: Terrence Malick's Tree of Life and Other Visions of Life in the Universe,” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80.2 (2012): 527-536
  • “The Skin of Religion: Aesthetic Mediations of the Sacred,” in CrossCurrents, 62.2 (2012): 162-180
  • “The Mediation of Meaning, or, Re-Mediating McLuhan,” in CrossCurrents, 62.2 (2012): 156-161
  • “Who do you see that I am? Global Perspectives on Jesus Films,” (co-authored with Darren Middleton) in New Theology Review 24.3 (2011): 17-28
  • “Words,” Material Religion special issue, “Keywords in Material Religion” 7.1 (2011): 156-162
  • “Looking at Words: The Iconicity of the Page,” in Postscripts 6.1-3 (2010): 67-82
  • “Religion is Playing Games: Playing Video Gods, Playing to Play,” Religious Studies and Theology, 29.2 (2010): 215-230

Creative Projects

  • Producer of documentary film “In God's House: The Religious Landscape of Utica, NY,” a film by Robert Knight (2015)
  • Curator of art exhibition, “Stations” at the Emerson Gallery, Hamilton College (2010)

Professional Affiliations

American Academy of Religion
Society for Anthropology of Religion
Society of Biblical Literature
Society for Cinema and Media Studies
Council of Editors of Learned Journals

Professional Service
  • Managing Editor and Co-Founder, Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief, 2004-present
  • President and Co-Founder, SCRIPT (Society for Comparative Research in Iconic and Performative Texts), 2010-present
  • President, Association for Religion and Intellectual Life (ARIL) / CrossCurrents, 2013-present
  • Associate Professor (courtesy appointment), Syracuse University, Department of Religion, 2018-present
  • Editorial Board, Journal of the American Academy of Religion (Oxford University Press), 2011-present
  • Editorial Board, CrossCurrents journal (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing) 2008-present
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Religion and Film (University of Nebraska) 2012-present
  • Editorial Board, Postscripts: A Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds (Equinox) 2004-present
  • Board of Trustees, Interfaith Council of Greater Utica, 2014-present
  • Advisory Board, "Engaging Lived Religion in the 21st Century Museum" project, Fowler Museum, UCLA, funded by Lilly Endowment, 2019–
  • Advisory Board, The Baron Thyssen Centre for the Study of Ancient Material Religion, Open University, UK, 2018–

Appointed to the Faculty


Educational Background

Ph.D., Emory University
M.Th., University of Glasgow
M.A.T.S., Columbia Seminary, Decatur, Georgia
B.A., Seattle Pacific University

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