#CFP The Cultures of Reading in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Jews, Christians, Greeks, Romans

#CFP The Cultures of Reading in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Jews, Christians, Greeks, Romans June 6, 2019

Chris Keith shared this call for papers:


“The Cultures of Reading in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Jews, Christians, Greeks, Romans”

Deadline for Abstracts: June 7, 2019 (note the update)

Date of Workshop/Conference: October 28, 2019

Location: Duke University

Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall, Franklin Humanities Institute, Bay 4, Smith Warehouse

Durham, NC 27708


William A. Johnson (Duke University)

Chris Keith (St Mary’s University, Twickenham)

Rebecca Scharbach Wollenberg (University of Michigan)


Confirmed Presenters and Participants:

Kendra Eshleman (Boston College): “Unlettered and Amateur: Early Christian Authors on the Value of Not Reading”

Seminar leader: Jennnifer Knust (Duke University)

Chris Keith (St Mary’s University, UK): “‘In Assembly’: The Synagogue and the Construction of Christian Identity”

Seminar leader: Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Rebecca Scharbach Wollenberg (University of Michigan), “The Rabbinic Notebook and the Problem of Informational Reading”

Seminar leader: David Lambert (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Eva Mroczek (University of California-Davis), “How to Read a Fragment, Then and Now: the Partial Text in Jewish Reading Cultures”

Seminar leader: Laura Lieber (Duke University)



With the support of the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University, the organizers invite short papers for a day-long workshop/conference on the theme of “The Cultures of Reading in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Jews, Christians, Greeks, Romans.” Accepted papers will also be considered for further development and inclusion in a future volume of the same title.

Who Is Eligible:

Scholars with PhDs in Classical Studies, Religious Studies, and related fields are eligible to propose papers to be presented at the afternoon conference session. Scholars who propose papers must be available to attend the full workshop/conference and present their papers on the afternoon of October 28, 2019 (information about travel below).

Submission Guidelines:

Please submit your CV and an abstract of 350–750 words clearly describing a new and original paper and its relationship to the theme of the event: Jewish and Christian reading cultures, or late ancient examples from other Mediterranean contexts. (See below for more information on the theme.) Full papers without abstracts will not be considered, and all submissions must describe work that is not already published or under contract to be published. The editors anticipate choosing approximately 4-6 submissions to be presented and discussed at the October 28 event.

Submit abstracts to Chris Keith (chris.keith@stmarys.ac.uk) by June 7, 2019. Questions can be directed to Prof Keith as well.


This workshop is the first event in a three-event series, with later events which we anticipate will be hosted at the University of Michigan (Spring 2020) and St Mary’s University, Twickenham (May/June 2021). The title of this international research program alludes to William Johnson’s Readers and Reading Cultures in the High Empire, a Study of Elite Communities (Oxford University Press, 2010). That study forwarded a model of ancient “reading cultures” or “reading communities” that insisted that scholars embed consideration of texts and text-based practices in the larger socio-cultural realities in which they gained currency. The study had two crucial self-imposed limits: (1) a focus on the “high empire,” delimited to the late first and second centuries CE; (2) a focus on elite texts within Graeco-Roman literary traditions. The current project explicitly seeks to explore beyond the sorts of reading communities sketched out by Johnson, to consider readers, writers, reading and (in Brian Stock’s term) textual communities outside of elite Greece and Rome, and to move beyond the chronological boundaries of the period known as the “high empire” or “second sophistic.”

The 2019 workshop/conference concentrates on (a) Jewish and Christian reading cultures and (b) late ancient examples from other Mediterranean contexts. The event has two components. The morning will feature a workshop on invited papers from Kendra Eshleman (Boston College), Chris Keith (St Mary’s University, Twickenham), Eva Mroczek (UC Davis), and Rebecca Scharbach Wollenberg (University of Michigan). These papers will be circulated in advance, and this workshop portion of the day will be run as a closed seminar for invited guests. (All presenters in the afternoon conference will be invited to participate in the closed workshop.)

In the afternoon, the second component of the event will feature 4-6 shorter papers of around twenty minutes, which will be presented in a public conference format and followed by Q&A. These papers will be selected from submitted abstracts, and may be selected by the organizers to be further developed with the possibility of inclusion in a planned publication.

The workshop will close with a reception for participants and audience members.


Lodging and most meals will be arranged by the Franklin Humanities Institute. We have a travel budget, but it is limited; submit a request for travel funding or subvention as needed.


Questions re theme and content to Chris Keith (chris.keith@stmarys.ac.uk).

Questions re schedule and logistics to Sylvia Miller (sylvia.miller@duke.edu).

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