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Syracuse University’s Annual Ray Smith Symposium to focus on research into iconic books
Syracuse University’s Annual Ray Smith Symposium to focus on research into iconic booksOctober 08, 2007Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences is aiming to reinvigorate research into iconic books during the annual Ray Smith Symposium, to be held Oct. 18-20 on the SU campus.
The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For registration information, as well as a complete schedule of presentations, visit http://iconicbooks.syr.edu.
Jim Watts, professor of religion and principal organizer of the symposium, says that books and other texts are often used as powerful symbols and ritual objects in religion, politics and in other aspects of culture. Scholarship in the humanities has largely ignored these uses of the texts and instead focused on the verbal signs contained within.
“The iconic use of books, though, profoundly affects how they are read and how they are used and depicted without being read in religious and political ceremonies, art works and mass media,” Watts says.
Symposium session topics are “Iconic Books in Ancient Judaism and Other Traditions”; “The Contentious Nature of Books Among Indigenous Religions”; “Iconic Books in African American Practice”; “and American Iconic Bibles in Cross-cultural Perspectives,” among others. Religious and literary scholars from around the country are scheduled to attend.
Keynote addresses will be delivered by Michelle Brown of the University of London and British Library (Thursday at 7 p.m.) and Vincent Wimbush of the Institute for Signifying Scriptures (Friday at 5 p.m.). A complete schedule of sessions can be found at the website listed above.
Watts has directed the Iconic Books Project at SU since 2001. Watts and colleague Dorina Miller Parmenter, a doctoral student in religion, have conducted research to catalog, analyze and describe the symbolic or “iconic” uses of books and other texts. They have assembled a database, located at http://iconicbooks.syr.edu, of nearly 2,000 images and accompanying documentation. Watts also maintains a blog, http://iconicbooks.blogspot.com, that chronicles events and activities related to iconic books.
The symposium is sponsored by the Department of Religion, the Judaic Studies Program, the Department of English and the Department of Fine Arts, all within The College of Arts and Sciences.
For more information on the symposium, contact SU’s Department of Religion at (315) 443-3862 or e-mail email@example.com.