“Material Aspects of Reading” (2018)

Date: February, 13–15, 2018
Conference: organized together with Anna Krauß MA and Dr. Friederike Schücking-Jungblut
Institutions: Heidelberg Center for Jewish Studies / Heidelberg University / CRC 933

The International Conference on “Material Aspects of Reading,” as proposed by the University of Heidelberg’s Collaborative Research Centre 933, deals with an aspect of the fields of Jewish and Biblical Studies that has been under-represented for altogether too long: the material circumstances related to the act of reading, as well as other practices of reception and perception of the written word. Since the practice of reading cannot be separated from its material preconditions, a variety of questions can be addressed:

  • How do aspects of the material on which something is written influence the act of reading and vice versa?
  • How do the practices pertaining to texts in certain social settings relate to those texts’ materiality?
  • What kind of conclusions can be drawn from the material circumstances (e.g. mise en page or mise en texte) regarding the manner of reading and its social context?
  • How do materiality, orality and – if applicable – mnemonic devices affect one another?
  • What can be said about the material presence of writings and their secondary uses (magical implications, e.g. amulets, Mezuzot, Tefillin)?
  • In which way can reading practices from earlier periods be reconstructed on the basis of later manuscripts?
  • What observations about the material aspects of reading can be made with respect to the differentiation between codex and scroll?
  • What should be the methodological criteria and fundamental questions of a material approach to the reception history?

Taking its starting point from this area of problems, the conference will investigate the “Material Aspects of Reading,” with a main focus on Mediterranean Antiquity from the Second Temple Period to Early Islamic and Karaite times.

The conference will be held in English. All lectures will be written in advance and distributed among the participants. All papers will be published shortly after the meeting. Young and Early career researchers from the fields of Archeology, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Studies, Religious Studies, History, Classics, Egyptology, and Papyrology are invited by this CfP to present their projects.