The Poetics of Christian Performance: Prayer, Liturgy, and their Environments in East and West

Event date: June 19 - June 22, 2016

    Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony (The Hebrew University)
    Derek Krueger (University of North Carolina )
    Yossi Maurey (The Hebrew University)


    The conference explores liturgy (music and text) and prayer in a variety of Eastern and Western Christian traditions, from the end of Antiquity to the Middle Ages.  Focusing on the history of worship as well, the organizers hope to shift the emphasis in the comparative study of Christianity beyond the history of doctrine.  Radical changes in models of piety, the ways in which people interacted with the divine, and developments in the musico-liturgical traditions themselves, brought forth new conceptions and patterns of worship.  These novel religious performances, both individual and communal, which emerged in the wake of the Christianization of the Roman world in the fourth century, had a long history and a vital role in shaping Christian identities in Byzantium and the Latin West.  They also encoded a specific poetics, a theory of their aesthetic workings and suitability.
    The conference focuses on religious performance to renarrate the history of Christian religious culture in East and West in its social and intellectual contexts, as they pertain to specific liturgies.  Conference presentations will extend from the period after the Council of Chalcedon in 451—when the great division between Eastern Christianities took place—to the 15th century, so that the religious, social, and political upheaval brought about by the Crusades can be taken into account.  The geographical framework includes the religious centers of the period (Palestine, Constantinople, and Rome), its imagined margins (East Syrian Christianity, the Germanic kingdoms, and medieval France), with particular emphasis given to select institutions, orders, and individuals (the Sainte-Chapelle, the Dominican Order, Shemon d-Taybutheh, the Church of the Anastasis in Jerusalem, and maybe Hagia Sophia).