Call for Papers

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The Ninth North American Syriac Symposium
Syriac at the Center

4-day conference
June 11-14, 2023
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

 Registration is free for graduate students and independent scholars; for all others, a fee of $150 will be charged at the time of registration.

Held every four years since 1991, the North American Syriac Symposium brings together scholars and students for exchange and discussion on a wide variety of topics related to the language, literature, and cultural history of Syriac Christianity, extending chronologically from the first centuries CE to the present day and geographically from Syriac Christianity’s homeland in the Middle East to South India, China, and the worldwide diaspora.

In 2023, the Ninth North American Syriac Symposium will be held in person at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, June 11 to June 14. Most of the event will be hosted at the Yale Divinity School, with the opportunity to visit the Dura-Europos exhibit at the Yale University Art Gallery and to see an exhibition of Syriac manuscripts from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

This Syriac Symposium coincides with the 6th Yale Liturgy Conference, June 12-15, 2023, held at the Maurice R. Greenberg Conference Center, about five minutes’ walk from the Yale Divinity School. We expect a joint panel between both events. Registration for this second conference is separate.

The theme of this Symposium is “Syriac at the Center.” Syriac has often been treated as an auxiliary language in the modern humanities, an adjunct tool to scholarship on Early Christianity, Late Antiquity, early Islam, the histories of theology and of science, and other areas of inquiry. It is an “extra language” in humanistic curricula. This conference welcomes papers on topics that treat Syriac as central, not peripheral, to scholarly investigation. How do our research subjects look when we stand with Syriac and regard other traditions and areas as peripheral?

Positions of center and periphery are matters of perspective, easily leading to one-sided views. We therefore encourage papers on this theme that rise above mere encomia to the importance of the Syriac traditions, but go further, showing how centering Syriac reveals new solutions to old problems, as well as new problems and areas of inquiry, and complicates current scholarly assumptions.

We welcome particularly papers addressing

  • Philoxenus of Mabbug on the sesquimillennial anniversary of his death
  • Syriac and translation activity
  • Syriac manuscripts, documents, and epigraphy
  • Syriac geographical thought
  • Social and economic history using Syriac sources
  • Bodily and ritual practices
  • Christological considerations
  • Development of canon law
  • Relations with the religious “other” from the Syriac Christian perspective

Any investigation into the Syriac traditions has the potential to contribute to the main theme. Syriac studies now comprise a large field. We therefore also welcome generally presentations by scholars on their current research that do not directly address the theme that we have set.

Please submit a title and abstract of proposed communication (150–200 words), to https://nass23.yale.edu by January 2, 2023. Pdf files are accepted.

Submit a Proposal by January 2, 2023

Accepted speakers will be notified in February 2023. 

Generously supported by the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, the Yale Divinity School, Archaia, the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, the Kurt W. and Else Kirschstein Rosenthal Fund, and the V.C. Viscusi fund.

Organizing Committee: Jimmy Daccache, Maria Doerfler, Kevin van Bladel

Local Steering Committee: John Collins | Yale Divinity School; Jimmy Daccache | Religious Studies; Maria Doerfler | Religious Studies; Christine Hayes | Religious Studies; Noel Lenski | Classics; Kevin van Bladel | Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations; Travis Zadeh | Religious Studies; Jaqueline Vayntrub | Yale Divinity School.