Franz Joseph Dölger-Institut

zur Erforschung der Spätantike

Call for Papers: Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiographies from East to West

15.02.2018 bis 17.02.2018


Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiographies from East to West
International Conference at Academia Belgica (Rome, Italy), Thursday 15th-Saturday 17th February 2018

In hagiographies, saints often confront a number of obstacles and it is their conduct in faith that marks them as saints; women and men who stand apart and are presented as exemplars to be modeled. Often, and this is especially the case of martyr acts, the obstacles are of a religiopolitical nature and the focus of the saint’s conduct is her/his defiance. However, there are
instances, especially within the medieval Sufi context, where the relationships between saints and rulers are more nuanced, depicting a symbiotic relationship, where both parties draw upon the authority of the other. There are also those cases in which authority belongs neither to the saint or the king but to ordinary people from across the socio-political and religious spectrum. In recent years, there has been interest in exploring these relationships as depicted in histories, hagiographies, and martyr acts and recent studies have shed light on the concept of sainthood, doctrine, and more generally, the history of various societies. However, the literary aspects of these narratives remain underexplored despite the wealth of information such analyses offer on the socio-cultural and political thought world of various courts and societies across the Indo-Mediterranean world.

This conference takes a diachronic and cross-cultural approach to the study of power and authority from above (courts/saints) and below (saints/ordinary people). We invite papers from
scholars who work on different types of late antique and medieval hagiographical narratives (Lives, Martyr Acts, hagiographical romances) working on Persian, Arabic, Syriac, Georgian,
Coptic, Armenian, Greek, and Latin hagiographical texts. Of particular interest are papers that will explore:

  • how texts construct and understand the roles of saints and rulers vis-à-vis one another (positive, negative, symbiotic/exploitative)

  • how authority is negotiated between saints and the populace

  • the power of the life of the saint after death (relics, the authority of hagiographers)

  • the role of characterization in the portrayal of figures of power and authority (stock characters, intermediaries, secondary figures)

  • audience milieu and reader reception

  • literary history

  • Please send your abstracts to: Ghazzal Dabiri (ghazzal.dabiri@ugent.be) by 15 July 2017.

    Abstracts (350 words max, in English) should include name, title of proposed paper, affiliation, and position. Notification about participation will be emailed by 30 September 2017.