- Christian and Jewish artworks (including performance art) that portrays the pre-existence
- The visual arts in Mormon theology, particularly the abstract
Dissertation: The idea that the human soul pre-dates its Earthly existence is both ancient and widespread. This doctrine up in some humanity's earliest writings (with the Mesopotamians) and trickled down into Greek philosophy, the Jewish faith, then-- inevitably-- into early Christianity.
This would likely surprise most modern Christian audiences as the majority of Christendom believes that the soul begins sometime between conception and birth. Yet remarkably, the belief in mankind's pre-mortal existence resurfaces repeatedly through the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, showing up in writings by Kant, Henry More and others. Surprisingly, this idea has never previously been researched from a visual art history perspective.
Significance: Academia has only recently begun to realise the roll this theological belief has had in shaping religious thought throughout time, both in Christianity, and in Judaism and Islam (the two latter of which still sometimes embrace the belief). Amazingly, the effect of this theology can be seen in some of the world's most beloved artworks, including those in the Vatican, like Michelango's sistine chapel.