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“Hymns for Humanists”: Dessa on Religion, Humanism, and Artistic Inspiration

Department of Religion; Humanities Council; Lewis Center for the Arts; Center for Culture, Society and Religion

November 18, 2021 · 5:00 pm · 219 Aaron Burr

Poster for Dessa, a rapper, singer, and writer

Acclaimed rapper, singer, and writer Dessa will speak on secularism and artistic inspiration during a public lecture and book signing on November 18, 2021, at 5:00 pm in Aaron Burr 219.

Registration is Required – REGISTER HERE

Singer, rapper, and writer Dessa has made a career of bucking genres and defying expectations—her résumé as a musician includes performances at Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, co-compositions for 100-voice choir, performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, and top-200 entries on the Billboard charts. She contributed to the #1 album The Hamilton Mixtape: her track, “Congratulations,” has notched over 16 million streams. As a writer, she’s been published by The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, broadcast by Minnesota Public Radio, and published a memoir-in-essays (My Own Devices, 2018) in addition to two literary collections. As a speaker, Dessa has delivered keynote speeches and presentations on art, science, and entrepreneurship; guest lectures at universities and colleges across the US; and a TED Talk about her science experiment on how to fall out of love.  She’s also the host of Deeply Human, a podcast created by the BBC and American Public Media. Dessa has been covered by PitchforkForbes, and The Wall Street Journal amongst others. The LA Times says she “sounds like no one else.” NPR’s All Songs Considered calls her “a national treasure.” On the stage and on the page, Dessa’s style is defined by ferocity, wit, tenderness, and candor.

Dessa will  speak on secularism and artistic inspiration. Conventionally religious assumptions, symbols, and forms are often taken as synonymous with artistic inspiration, now as ever. What role, then, do avowedly non-religious beliefs play in art? Moreover, because of their ubiquity those conventionally religious/spiritual forms and symbols are always present as interlocutors for secularly-inclined artists, as rhetorical symbols and as poignant foils. So, how does that work? This event will be an opportunity to hear from an accomplished artist about, to summarize it bluntly, “doing art while not being religious.”

Event Sponsors:
Department of ReligionCouncil of the HumanitiesLewis Center for the ArtsCenter for Culture, Society and Religion

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