Maddy Richey on Goliath and other Decapitations.

It is my pleasure to invite you to our next event, to take place next Tuesday, February 5 at 5:00 p.m., in Swift 201. Our very own Maddy Richey will be offering a talk entitled Goliah among the Giants: Monster Decapitation and Capital Display. Here is Maddy’s fascinating abstract:

“A single verse near the conclusion of 1 Samuel 17 mentions that after defeating Goliath, David took the giant’s severed head to Jerusalem (1 Sam 17:54). Literarily imagined transport and display of Goliath’s head encodes royal supremacy over monstrous bodies and casts the king as uniquely dominant over enemies at the physical extreme. This function of communicating royal and national power has parallels in the ancient Middle East and the ancient Mediterranean world. For example, various Gilgamesh describe the decapitation of Humbaba and the display of that giant’s severed head; this is paralleled by apotropaic use of Humbaba’s head as known from the Mesopotamian archaeological record. Similarly, Greek mythographers’ descriptions of Perseus’s defeat of Medusa are replicated in iconography by Gorgoneion architectural elements. In discussing the significance of displayed monstrous heads in literary and historical circumstances, I will engage Lacanian work on the semiotics of severed heads, theorizations of the monstrous, and recent scholarship on decapitation in the ancient Near East.”

We hope to see you all there.
Delicious food and some refreshments will be available.

Prof. Jennifer Andruska’s— “Wise and Foolish Love in the Song of Songs.”

It is my pleasure to invite you to our next event, which will take place this Tuesday (Jan 12), at 5:00 p.m., in Swift 106. We will have the pleasure of listening to Prof. Jennifer Andruska’s talk “Wise and Foolish Love in the Song of Songs.” Prof. Andruska has recently her PhD in Hebrew Bible at Cambridge, and will be talking about how the Song of Songs incorporates elements of wisdom literature (see the full abstract below).
We hope to see you all in what promises to be a fascinating talk!
Refreshments will be served.
“Wise and Foolish Love in the Song of Songs.”—Abstract.
For some time scholars have been debating whether the Song of Songs has connections to the wisdom genre and how this changes our understanding of it.  Those who have suggested such connections have been criticized for not demonstrating that they are extensive enough to be meaningful and for being vague as to what precisely the book’s wisdom message might be.  This presentation will demonstrate that the influence of the wisdom genre on the Song is pervasive, running throughout the book, and offer an entirely new understanding of the book’s wisdom message.  Connections between the Song of Songs and wisdom are often seen in the ‘do not awaken’ refrains, the climactic statement in 8:6-7 and numerous parallels with the biblical wisdom books, particularly Proverbs. Yet, the wisdom books’ use of language or motifs from the Song does not make the Song itself wisdom.  I will not argue that the Song’s wisdom features are the result of specific parallels with the biblical wisdom books, but rather, that they derive from typical forms and conventions found in the antecedent ancient Near Eastern ‘didactic’ or advice literature genre, what we call ‘wisdom,’ which predates the biblical wisdom books by at least a thousand years.  The Song of Songs incorporates forms and conventions used in the ancient Near Eastern advice literature genre throughout the book, so that the it shares points of contact with both the love song and advice literature genres of the ancient Near East.  The purpose of this exploration into the Song’s use of these features is not to label the Song as ‘wisdom’ proper, or have it categorized as such, but rather, to understand what the presence of these conventions and features means for the interpretation of the Song itself. The Song of Songs is clearly a love song, yet it also does something quite different than other ancient Near Eastern love song texts, by combining the love song genre with elements of the ancient Near Eastern advice literature genre to produce a wisdom literature about romantic love.  These connections to wisdom in the Song are extensive enough to change the way that we understand the book. The Song is not just a celebration of love or entertainment, but is providing wisdom concerning romantic love.

Prof. Jessie DeGrado—Model Class and Job Talk Dry-runs.

Dear friends,

We’re very excited to start the first week of our Winter schedule with two sessions hosted by our very own Professor Jessie DeGrado, who is coming back to Chicago for some practice for the job market. To that end, Professor DeGrado will be presenting a dry run of both a model class and a job talk (Wednesday 1/9 at 1:00 p.m. for the class, and Thursday 1/10 at 6:00 p.m. for the job talk; rooms TBD).
This is a unique opportunity for all of us to gain exposure and insight into a crucial moment of the employment process.
Jessie DeGrado studies the intersection of gender, empire, and religious innovation in the ancient Middle East. Their current work explores processes of cultural interaction between the Assyrian heartland and peripheral states of the Levant in the first millennium BCE. Recent publications include a co-authored study on the wanderings of the Mesopotamian baby-killing demon Lamashtu and an analysis of the representation of foreigners in Assyrian texts and iconography (forthcoming). DeGrado received a PhD in Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East from the University of Chicago in August 2018 and currently teaches at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.