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Dr. Gary Vikan: From the Holy Land to Graceland: Sacred People, Places and Things in Our Lives


Sunday, December 9, 2012


02:00 PM–03:30 PM

Graceland is much more than a wildly popular tourist destination associated with a famous entertainer, and Elvis Presley is much more than the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Please join Dr. Gary Vikan, departing Director of the Walters Art Museum, as he explores Graceland, the second-most visited historic house in the U.S., as a locus sanctus—a holy place—and Elvis as its resident saint.  This talk will discuss how the hordes of fans that crowd Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis are actually modern-day pilgrims, connected in spirit and practice to their early Christian counterparts, sharing a fascination for icons and iconography, relics, souvenirs, votives, and even a belief in miracles.

Based on his book From the Holy Land to Graceland: Sacred People, Places and Things in Our Lives, Dr. Vikan’s talk will also discuss the emergence of contemporary holy places: Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the Grassy Knoll in Dallas, and Place de l’Alma in Paris, and show how the saints of our day are our “martyred” secular charismatics, from Elvis to John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and others. Book signing to follow.  

Books available for purchase in the Museum Store; members receive a 10% discount.

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