Call for Papers: Cult Practices in Ancient Literatures

By Marc LeBlanc

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World is seeking papers for an interdisciplinary workshop, entitled "Cult Practices in Ancient Literatures: Egyptian, Near Eastern and Graeco-Roman Narratives in a Cross-Cultural Perspective," to be held at ISAW on May 16-17, 2016.  The workshop is being organized by ISAW Visiting Research Scholar Franziska Naether.

For this workshop, we would like to bring together senior and emerging scholars who study rituals, magical and divinatory practices in the context of literary texts. The sources might range from narratives such as heroic stories and novels, tales, travel fictions etc. to wisdom texts and discourses transmitting information on cult practices or even longer passages describing ritual action. Issues discussed in the papers might include:

  • description and function of rituals in literary texts
  • images of the divine
  • priests, wise men and women as protagonists
  • secret knowledge
  • presentation of fate and sacred justice

The sources should be discussed concerning their contents, but also in regard to methodology: How could information about ritual participants, locations, instruments, etc. be analyzed in regard to ritual studies? What perspectives do narratives and wisdom text offer for the study of cult practices, and what are the caveats? How could language, story line and ritual quotations be explained in terms of literary studies? Emerging scholars are especially encouraged to submit an abstract concerning current research in Egyptology, Near Eastern Studies, Classics, Papyrology, Religion, Theology etc. to discuss their material within an interdisciplinary setting.

For North American scholars selected to give papers, travel and accomodation may be covered. The event is sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation and ISAW.

If you would like to give a paper, please send a proposed talk title, abstract (ca. 150-200 words) and CV by email to Franziska Naether ( by January 15, 2016. The possibility of a publication will be discussed at the workshop.

Full details of the workshop, including information about registration, will be posted on the ISAW website at the following link: