Event Subtitle / Short Description
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Co-sponsored by the Department of Classics
The conference will include three panels that explore the importance of mysticisms from antiquity to modern time. Our first panel aims to examine how these vehicles of description move across media and genres and how these recurring patterns function alongside one another. The two papers on this panel take their examples from pre-modernity, and both try to place their monuments (the works of Dionysius the Areopagite and Ste. Foy in Conques) in their full sensory context. The second panel addresses how the individual event becomes public and what happens in its aftermath. These sensuous metaphors are embedded in the physical, the site of political experience. Although these stem from individual, private experiences, they require a common corporeality, a sense of oneself as embodied in a social community, and the movement from private to public life must be enacted in some manner. Both papers consider the fundamental issue of group experience and embodiment: the one synchronically (the case of late antique Jewish poetry) and the other diachronically (Chinese Buddhism across time and place). In the third and final panel, our speakers explore the movement of mystical events into new contexts. After the initial experience, mystical encounters take on lives of their own: they spread and adapt. Through such a movement, however, they take on different meanings and are re-interpreted to fit new situations. The papers in panel complicate understandings mysticism as universal or generalizable: one locates a particular French mysticism that runs the course of modernity up through the works of Georges Bataille and the other asks what “mysticism” means in the twenty-first century and how it might be understood as an ongoing phenomenon.