Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Thomas Hunt: Ruined Reading: violent creativity and Christian grammar

This workshop examines how early Christians did religious work through textual practices. It will show how such work served to locate Christians in time, as heirs of a literary patrimony and custodians of learning and truth for the generations to come. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary literary critical and philosophical approaches, we argue that Christianity made a violently creative appropriation of the literary and cultural past, addressed to the very Christian future such appropriation created.
Taking textual practices as the location of religious work renders visible the processes by which a new religious world was generated and sustained. Writers as diverse as Didymus, Jerome and Cassiodorus remoulded the tools of literary production which had made them educated Romans. As they rewrote grammars, canons, and rhetorics they fashioned Christianity as a textual Rome that was able to continue after the ruin of the physical Rome. These thinkers' ingenuity was often heavy handed, creating monuments to the patrimony which were weathered and already slipping into ruin, In so doing they revealed the creative and probing mode of their literary work even while insisting on its adherence to established convention.
The workshop will invite its participants to look anew at early Christianity, to ask what kind of thing emerged after Rome was ruined, when that thing was made of ruinous textual practices.
Razored passages from St Jerome: the logic of circumcision in On Famous Men
Curating the Patrimony: Julian, Didymus, and Schools

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