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Presented By: Judaic Studies

Materializing Ancient Judaism Symposium

Huqoq Huqoq
Over the past few decades, attention to things, material practices, and materiality has moved beyond the confines of those disciplines that have long studied material culture (e.g., archaeology and art history) to the very center of academic inquiry across the Humanities and Social Sciences. Objects and their constituent materials are studied alongside their larger landscapes and built environments, the bodily practices and disciplines that produced them, and the sensory regimes and perceptual schemes in which they were embedded.

This two-day conference brings together scholars from across a range of disciplines to consider how people in the ancient Mediterranean world, Jews among them, related both to matter itself and to issues of materiality. How did they conceptualize the relationships between word and thing, language and action, text and artifact? How did they sense, understand, and construct material entities such as quotidian or sacred artifacts, human or divine bodies, built or natural environments, and so on? How did non-Jews perceive or represent the relationships between Jews and matter? Finally, how has the history of Jews and matter been reconstructed in modern scholarship and how might scholars approach the nexus of Jews and the material more productively? Presentations explore the profound interconnectedness within ancient (Jewish) culture among things, space, and embodiment, and will place these in dialogue with the signifying practices that are essential to cultural (and other kinds of) production.

Monday, April 9th

9:00-9:15 Welcome: Jeffrey Veidlinger and Rachel Neis

9:15-10:45 Panel I: Affects
• Chaya Halberstam, “Seeing and Feeling without Believing: Courtroom Spectacle and the Affective Landscape”
• Karen Stern, “Materiality of Emotion in Inscribed Jewish Prayers”
Respondent and chair: C. Mike Chin

11:00-12:30 Panel II: Mediations
• Sean Burrus, “Making Memory ‘Matter’ in the Art and Architecture of the Jewish Diaspora”
• Ra‘anan Boustan and Karen Britt, “Historical Scenes in Mosaics from Syria and Palestine: Building on the Seleucid Past in Late Antiquity”
Respondent and chair: Gil Klein

2:00-3:30 Panel III: Embodiments
• Deborah Forger, “God Made Manifest: The Jewish High Priest as Visible Counterpoint to Deified Emperors in the Greco-Roman World?”
• Todd Berzon, “Babel Matters: Experience and the Materiality of Language in the Ancient Jewish Imagination”
Respondent and chair: Gregg Gardner

4:00-5:30 Panel IV: Rites of Passage
• Megan Nutzman, “Materializing Identity: Family and Community in the Jewish Inscriptions from Rome”
• Michael Swartz, “Weddings & Funerals: Quotidian Poetry in Jewish Palestine”
Respondent and chair: Celia Schultz

Tuesday April 10th

9:00-10:30 Panel V: Writing and Reading
• Daniel Picus, “Superseding Scrolls: Beyond Binaries in the Study of Ancient Jewish Reading”
• Rebecca Wollenberg, “Bible as Image: Visual Exegesis of the Biblical Text in Classical Rabbinic Traditions”
Respondent and chair: Moulie Vidas

10:45-12:00 Panel VI: Summation and Discussion
• David Frankfurter

Todd Berzon, Bowdoin College
Ra’anan Boustan, Princeton University
Karen Britt, Western Carolina University
Sean Burrus, Metropolitan Museum
C. Mike Chin, University of California at Davis
David Frankfurter, Boston University
Deborah Forger, University of Michigan
Gregg Gardner, University of British Columbia
Chaya Halberstam, King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario
Gil Klein, Loyola Marymount University
Daniel Picus, Brown University
Rachel Neis, University of Michigan
Megan Nutzman, Old Dominion University
Karen Stern, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Celia Schultz, University of Michigan
Michael Swartz, Ohio State University
Moulie Vidas, Princeton University
Rebecca Wollenberg, University of Michigan

Event Accessibility: There is an elevator and accessible and gender neutral restroom on the first floor of the building. If you have a disability that requires an accommodation, contact the Judaic Studies office at or 734-763-9047.

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