Conference on Ritual

People in the New York area might be interested in the following conference which, while not about China, is concerned with an area of central importance to much Chinese philosophy: namely, ritual.

Exploring Ritual in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean: Performance, Texts, and Material Culture

Friday, May 16, 2014, 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Seating is limited, please email to register.

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

New York University
Lecture Hall
15 East 84th Street
New York, NY 10028

Events are free and open to the public

“Ritual” is a key category in the religions of the Ancient Near East and the
Aegean, as in all parts of the ancient world. However, it is also an
extremely problematic one, that has sparked much debate in recent decades.
There is little agreement among modern theorists of religion even on how the
term “ritual” itself should be defined, and whether religion is necessarily
part of it. The aim of this workshop is to explore the nature of ritual in
ancient societies, looking at a number of key questions, including:

Evidence: what problems are posed by trying to reconstruct ancient rituals
from the surviving sources – texts, iconography or material culture? Are
textual and iconographic records always or ever an authentic or complete
record of what was actually done?

Performance: how should we understand the notion of “performance” in the
context of ritual? Does it always imply an audience? Does it imply
communication, and of what sort? To what extent can rituals be said to
approach the status of drama?

Interrituality: How are rituals related to each other? Do rituals refer to
other rituals? In what ways are ritual patterns reflected or refracted in
literary texts? To what extent do ritual-memes pass from one culture to
another, and why?

Please email to register. 

Click here for the workshop program. 

Mary Bachvarova (Wilamette University)
Heather Baker (University of Vienna)
William Bibee (University of Texas, Austin)
Elena Chepel (University of Reading)
Amir Gilan (Tel Aviv University) – via video-link
Sam Mirelman (ISAW, co-organizer)
Fred Naiden (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Ian Rutherford (ISAW & University of Reading, co-organizer)
Mark S. Smith (NYU)
Andrea Trameri (ISAW) 
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University. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit this work under
the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivative Works license,
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Please note that audio recording and photography of any kind is not
permitted at ISAW activities without prior consent. Requests can be emailed
a week or more in advance to

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