With Jessica Brantley: Devotional Luxury, Literary Necessity
When we call a text “literary,” we often identify its literariness as a kind of “excess.” The literary exceeds necessity—it is a kind of luxury meant to be enjoyed for its own sake. Devotional texts, in contrast, are often considered “devotional” because of their intended use—they are objects used for religious worship. In short, unlike a literary text, a devotional text is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. What do we mean, then, when we call devotional books—such as books of hours—“luxury” items? Do “devotional” texts cease to be merely devotional when they exceed necessity or functionality in form, in performance, or in material presentation? Or is luxury an end—or a condition—for devotional reading? How do we describe the “excesses” of devotional books and, by the same token, how do we describe what we might call the “necessities” of the literary? This panel invites new research about luxury and necessity as they relate to literary and devotional reading culture. We welcome submissions that consider these questions as they relate to any topic including manuscript culture, poetic and musical form, and performance studies.
Nota bene: This is a blind review panel. Jessica Brantley has agreed to present a paper, but a committee will select the other papers by a process of double blind review of the submitted abstracts. Abstracts from graduate students and junior scholars are especially encouraged.
All questions, abstract submissions, and required information should be sent to Erica Weaver and Helen Cushman at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org by the congress deadline (September 15th).