Thursday, 5 February 2015

Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe: Demonic and Diabolical Bodies (Workshop proposal)

The material turn in late antique studies (cf P. Cox Miller, The Corporeal Imagination (2009)), has stimulated considerable scholarly interest in early Christian ideas about the constitution and operation of the bodies of demons and the Devil. As Smith has shown in his seminal article, ‘How thin is a demon?’ (JECS 16.4 (2008), 479-512), demons were thought by many non-Christians and Christians alike to have bodies – insubstantial, wispy, aery bodies, but bodies nonetheless, which required sustenance, and behaved in characteristic ways. As Brakke has explored in his book,Demons and the Making of the Monk (2006), early Christian ascetics were formed in part responsively to the powerful workings of demons on the human body and mind, to be resisted in spiritual and physical fashion. This workshop will build on the work of scholars like Smith and Brakke to explore a broader set of ideas about demonic and diabolical bodies, from ideas of bodies of demons, where multiple creatures act in cohort as one organism; and the quasi-sacramental ideas of human participation in the devil's body that one finds in, for example, Tyconius and Augustine. Overarching topics of interest will include the boundaries and behaviours of demonic bodies; the relationships between human and demonic bodies; the issue of changes in and to demonic bodies. In two workshops, 3 speakers will offer 30-minute papers on diverse treatments of this topic, and the papers at each workshop will be followed by roundtable discussion.

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