AAR/SBL Practice Talks, Round 2

RELS Colloquium
Jeremy Steinberg, Hallie Nell Swanson
Nov 16, 2023 at - | Cohen 204

Two RELS grad students will give practice talks for the upcoming AAR/SBL conference. Presenters will deliver practice versions of their talks, field questions from the audience, and receive feedback on delivery.

Here are the details of their presentations as they appear on the conference programs for AAR and SBL.

A full list of Penn RELS community members who will be speaking at the conference is available here. Please make particular note of the Penn Religious Studies Boardman Reception that will be held on Saturday, November 18.

Jeremy Steinberg, "What Is a Biblical Addition?"

This paper analyzes the LXX Additions to Daniel with an interest in ascertaining the nature of the category of Additions. An Addition is conceptually odd: it is classed as part of and yet secondary to the text of the book in question. I contend that the marking of a passage as an Addition presupposes a fixed, authoritative pre-Addition version of the text while simultaneously asserting that the Addition is worthy of incorporation and should be understood as a wholly authoritative element of the full text. I contextualize these assumptions behind the Additions within the broader literary world of late Second Temple Period Judaism. In so doing, I compare the Additions to Daniel with other contemporary works at the margins of the Biblical corpus that similarly complement and expand existing texts but did not achieve or necessarily strive for recognition as part of the existing texts themselves (e.g., the Pseudo-Danielic literature from Qumran). While the Additions to Daniel form this paper’s primary case study, I use parallels and comparisons to the Additions to Esther and Jeremiah as tools in constructing the category of the Addition. To that end, I investigate the content and formal attributes of the various Additions, with an interest in ascertaining whether specific characteristics (e.g. personal prayer, as in the Prayer of Azariah, Susanna, and Esther Addition C) motivate the special treatment of these compositions as Additions.

Hallie Nell Swanson, "Moving Stories: The Indo-Persian Romance, 1650-1857"

My dissertation investigates how a concept of passionate, mad love—‘ishq—became mainstream in precolonial South Asian popular culture through a genre of narrative poem, the ‘ishqiya masnavi (often translated as ‘romance’), written by Sufi initiates in Persian, Urdu and Punjabi. These stories depicted love as a way to access the divine by revealing the divinity inherent in creation. Lovers’ trials and tribulations—from mystical beasts to jealous relatives—were allegories of the Sufi path. 

I bring a material approach to the literary analysis of these poems, to show how song, recitation and the use of illustrations served to instruct communities of reader-listener-viewers in how to use earthly love to access God. Over two centuries, the romance tradition gradually moved out of the Sufi lodge and the court into urban coteries, colonial textbooks, and eventually modern print publics—but the Sufi cosmology that underpinned these stories remained a constant.