6th North American Syriac Symposium

The 6th North American Syriac Symposium is being held at:

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
June 26-29, 2011

Mark your calendars! The theme is magnificent, as you'll be able to read below.

Perhaps I should submit the part of my book pertaining to Syriac in popular culture? Everyone may find the rampant Ricky-Martin-Tattoo-Lord's-Prayer-Klotz-Lamsa-Peshitta-Primacy-tomfoolery entertaining.... and a bit sobering, too. :-)

The Sixth North American Syriac Symposium will be organized at Duke University on June 26-29, 2011. Held every four years since 1991, the North American Syriac Symposium brings together university professors, graduate students, and scholars from the United States and Canada (more than half of the participants) as well as from Europe, the Middle East, and India, in particular from the State of Kerala. The Symposium offers a unique opportunity for exchange and discussion on a wide variety of topics related to the language, literature, and cultural history of Syriac Christianity, from the first centuries ce to the present day.

While adopting the general template of previous symposia, the Duke Symposium will at the same time be organized in such a way that it aptly reflects current trends in Syriac studies. Additionally, it will allow Duke scholars and students to communicate to a wider audience some highlights of their research, teaching, and resources.

To serve as a general framework and organizational principle, the following theme has been chosen:

Syriac Encounters

Encounters and interactions between individuals, generations, communities,traditions, ideas, languages, and religions.

This general theme allows us to highlight various kinds of diachronic and synchronic interaction and dialogue, formation of communal identity, construction of tradition, language contact, and religious conversation both within Syriac Christianity and between Syriac Christianity and other traditions, in particular Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, and various forms of Western Christianity. The overall theme is not meant, however, to exclude topics that are not directly related to it.

Depending on the response to the Call for Papers (which will be sent out in September 2010), a number of (partly parallel) sessions, each consisting of three or four papers, will be put together. These may include some of the following:

(1) Syriac Christianity in its Graeco-Roman context.

(2) Syriac Christianity and Judaism.

(3) The Syriac Bible: Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocrypha.

(4) Ephrem and fourth-century Syriac Christianity.

(5) Aphrahat and fourth-century Syriac Christianity in the Sassanid-Persian Empire.

(6) The fifth and sixth centuries and the development of separate West-Syrian and East-Syrian traditions.

(7) Syriac Christianity and Early Islam.

(8) Syriac Christianity in the 11th-13th centuries and the “Syriac Renaissance”.

(9) Syriac Christianity in the modern period and its contacts with the West.

(10) The Syriac-Christian Diaspora in the 20th and 21st century.

(11) Literary genres in Syriac Christianity, or more specifically: biblical interpretation, historiography, poetry, philosophy.

(12) Asceticism in the Syriac Christian context.

(13) Syriac liturgical traditions.

(14) Syriac in the Aramaic language family.

(15) The study of Syriac manuscripts.

(16) Art and material culture of Syriac Christianity.

(17) Syriac Christianity: continuity and transformation.

(18) New methodologies, tools, and projects.

(19) Syriac Computing (as in previous symposia, this section, or these sections, will be organized and directed by George A. Kiraz, Director of Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute).

In addition to the standard papers (20 minutes plus 10 minutes of discussion), there will be five plenary sessions, delivered by invited speakers several of whom – as was the case in previous symposia – are from Europe. At present, all five speakers have accepted our invitation; a sixth speaker, whom we invited to deliver the opening lecture, will make his decision in September. The five speakers are:

(1) Riccardo Contini, Professor of Semitic Philology, University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’, Italy.

(2) Sidney H. Griffith, Professor and Chair, Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.

(3) Amir Harrak, Professor of Aramaic and Syriac, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto, Canada.

(4) Heleen Murre-van den Berg, Professor in the History of Modern World Christianity, especially in the Middle East, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

(5) Alison G. Salvesen, University Research Lecturer at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and Polonsky Fellow in Jewish Bible Versions at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, UK.


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