Sunday, July 5, 2009

CFP: “Susanna and the Elders: Medieval to Early Modern”

CFP: 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 13-16, 2010 Special Session, “Susanna and the Elders: Medieval to Early Modern”

The story of Susanna and the Elders has always been a little suspect. After all, its sources weren’t Hebrew, but Greek. In Jerome’s edition it wasn’t even considered part of the true Bible: instead, it appears as an appendix to the Book of Daniel. But the story’s association with the prophet Daniel, and its vivid, economical–even miraculous, narrative made it a lively model for the moral inculcation of youth, especially young women.

Why Susanna? Susanna’s plot is inherently dramatic. It lends itself to an easy excuse to portray the female nude. Its emphasis on the strength of faith alone makes it popular with reformers of all denominations, and the crux of its plot hangs on how the testimony of witnesses is collected–and the importance of a tree. To us today, the story appeals to interests from a range of disciplines–literary study, legal history, art history, codicology.

Given ‘her’ popularity and profusion across the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries and across media, it is unusual that so little scholarship has been devoted to that model of a good woman who refused any compromise with her virtue. In an effort to redress that deficiency, we’ve proposed a session on the story of Susanna and the Elders, to put ‘Susanna’ on trial, so to speak. We hope to gather scholars from across fields and periods who are focusing on this story to generate a cross-disciplinary exchange to explore ‘her’ variations, be it in prose, poetry, drama, or art.
Abstracts of 100-250 words, welcome until August 30, 2009. Contact Terry Wade, or Jamie Taylor, for further information, or to submit an abstract.


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