30 November–Derek Krueger

The Theology Workshop, in collaboration with the Dean’s Office and the Late Antiquity & Byzantium Workshop, is delighted to invite you to the capstone event of our autumn quarter sequence on “Theology in Public”: a lecture and discussion with Derek Krueger, Joe Rosenthal Excellence Professor of Religious Studies (and Program Faculty, Women’s and Gender Studies), University of North Carolina Greensboro; and President, Byzantine Studies Association of North America.

Friday, November 30
4:30-6:00 pm
Swift Hall Common Room
“The Internal Lives of Biblical Figures in the Hymns of Romanos the Melodist”

Professor Krueger’s presentation falls at the membrane between public and private: the forms of subjectivity represented and cultivated in the liturgical practices of late antique Christianity. Byzantine Orthodox liturgy presented portraits of the self in the first person singular.  Through hymns and prayers, Byzantine Christians received models for how they might have access to themselves.  In the sixth century, the greatest Byzantine liturgical poet, Romanos the Melodist, wrote extended verse sermons expanding scenes from the biblical lectionary cycle and giving voice to minor characters from the Gospels.  And yet, when he explored his characters’ interior lives, Romanos was less interested in their distinctiveness and more focused on their conformity to generic patters of self-expression.  In a series of hymns where he explored “the mind” of his biblical subjects, he showed them engaging in typological exegesis to construct the self as sinner in need of salvation.

Liturgy, then, is the crucial site of ‘public’ religiosity with which we end our formal workshop program for the quarter. This event is free and open to the public, with no preparation expected.

Note: Prior to the lecture, there will be an informal conversation with Professor Krueger for any students active or interested in the challenges and opportunities of academic work on late antiquity, Byzantium, and the Christian East. Participants from the Theology, LAByz, Early Christianity Workshops, and any others whose interests overlap, are most welcome to meet and speak with an eminent figure in the field. 3:00-4:00 pm, Swift 200.

Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Aaron in advance at athollander@uchicago.edu.

15 November–Therese Nelson

“This is What Democracy Looks Like: The Utopian Vision of the Occupy Chicago Movement”

November 15, 2012
12:00-1:20 pm
Swift 106

Please join the Theology Workshop and the Religions in American Culture Workshop for a jointly hosted presentation on the Occupy movement in contemporary America, with Therese Nelson, PhD student in Anthropology & Sociology of Religion. Mary Emily Duba and Greg Chatterley will add texture to the discussion from the vantage points of the two hosting workshops.


In the 16th century, Thomas More coined the word utopia to describe a mythical, superior society. In this presentation, Nelson will argue that Occupy is a utopian community in the tradition of other American utopias, communities whose values inspire their participants to act in concert for what they perceive to be a better world. The movement is not idyllic, but is committed to shared ideals. Occupiers’ enthusiasm for their utopia takes on the sacred character of religion in both structure and substance. This presentation trains a microscope on the interior workings of the Occupy Chicago movement in order to learn how a group committed to high ideals creates and defends its ethos as it seeks to operate in a world of unforgiving realities, hard choices, and imperfect human nature.

Lunch will be provided. No preparation is expected of workshop participants, but the paper will be available through the Workshop listserves for those who wish to read the paper in advance. Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Aaron in advance at athollander@uchicago.edu.