CFP – Ritual in Jewish Fiction

Organized by the American Religion and Literature Society
Midwest American Academy of Religion Regional Conference, March 1-2, 2019, Muncie, IN

With the birth of a modern culture in which instrumental reason plays a dominant role, the religious has tended to appear as a conscious adoption of a belief system. In Western cultures, in particular, we see the widespread reduction of ‘‘religion’’ to ‘‘belief.” And yet many traditions experience the religious not as belief but as practice. In Judaism, in particular, devotion is a matter of deed. When the Jews at Sinai accepted the Torah, they said. “Na’aseh venishma,”which translates as, “We will do and we will hear” (Exodus 24:7). The Jews’ unconditional acceptance of Torah and their submission to God’s law was expressed in a commitment to action. They were redeemed by their declaration, which acknowledges that obedience precedes understanding (Tractate Shabbat 88a).

This panel seeks to ask, How does fiction by Jewish authors show religious devotion enacted through ritual practice? We invite papers examining literary works that emphasize the importance of ritual, either through narratives in which ritual constitutes a meaningful aspect of characters’ religious experience or through formal elements that point the reader to the centrality of ritual. Areas of interest include but are by no means limited to Jewish American fiction, Yiddish fiction, science fiction by Jewish writers and Jewish feminist fiction.

Please send 250-word abstracts and brief bios to Kathryn Ludwig at Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes in length. The deadline for abstracts is November 1, 2018.