2021 | 1

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 15 of 15
  • Article
    Born under a Lucky Star: Interpretations of Woodcuts of Pseudo-astrological Birth Amulets from German-Jewish Printing Houses in the 18th Century
    Meininghaus, Alisha (2021)
    The subject of this article are illustrations of the zodiac signs on birth amulets from German-Jewish printing houses from the 18th century. These woodcuts are part of a long tradition of astrological references in Jewish art and literature. However, it is noticeable that the amulet texts do not contain any astrological topics. Therefore, the question arises in which relation the woodcuts stand to the text and the function of the amulets. By contextualizing the images with other contemporary traditions of illustration, three interpretation models are developed which can explain the choice of the zodiac signs on the amulets.
  • Article
    In the Orality/Aurality of the Book: Inclusivity and Liturgical Language
    Kakalis, Christos (2021)
    The paper examines the role of language in the constitution of a common identity through its liturgical use at the Eastern Orthodox Church of Saint Andrew in Edinburgh (Scotland). Open to moving populations, the parish holds a rather multinational character (with people of 30 different nationalities). It is a place of worship for populations that consider Christian Orthodox Culture as part of a long established collective identity (i.e. Russian, Rumanian and Greeks) and converts that are recently received in its context (including a considerable number of locals). Based on ethnographic research (long periods of observation and interviews), archival work and theoretical contextualisation, the paper will examine the atmospheric materiality of the written text as performed by the readers, the choir and the clergy. This sound-scape is an amalgamation of different kinds of reading: prose, chanted prose, chanting, antiphonic, depending on where at the Liturgy is specifically read. The language of the book is performative: the choreography and its symbolisms perform the words of the texts and vice versa. Adding to this, the use of at least four different languages in every service and two different Eastern Orthodox chanting styles (Slavonic, Byzantine) in combination with European influences (reflecting the unavoidable compromisations that the transposition from style to style and language to language involves) expresses in the most tangible way a practising religious inclusivity that has been carefully cultivated in this parish. Through closer examination of literary transformation processes, I suggest the important role of liturgical language in the creation of communal space-times that negotiate the ideas of home and belonging in a new land.
  • Article
    Material Traces of a Religious Trial: The Case of Ludwig Teschler
    Wessely, Christian (2021)
    In 1991, a private house in Graz was sold. The owner asked her son and his wife to lend a hand in clearing the attic of the small house, a typical construction of the 1930s which was built by the owner’s grandfather. Amongst piles of broken furniture, obsolete tableware, old books and rubble, all covered in layers of dust, the couple found a plastic bag containing about 70 sheets of paper, most of it damaged, most of it in unreadable handwriting. Yet the date written on some of them aroused their interest: to a large extent the years mentioned belonged to the 17th century. The material aspect of this lot is of special interest. On the one hand, the analog medium of pen and paper has been subject to various destructive factors and information originally contained in the documents is irrecoverable; and, of course, the find is obviously incomplete. On the other hand though, the medium provides dimensions of the human beings who produced it in various respects a digital entity could never provide, each of which contribute to the not only interesting but also deeply touching stories that unwind in the 136 pages. One of these stories provides a perfect example for this setting: The case of Ludwig Teschler, a handcrafter who was accused of using witchcraft. He was also tried and sentenced – with a surprising verdict.
  • Article
    Materiality of Religious Books: A Brief Sketch of Sometimes Disregarded Aspects of Book Culture
    Renhart, Erich (2021)
    Being acquainted with Christian manuscripts – Eastern and Western – and with ancient and rare printed books we can observe a growing interest in material and codicological aspects of our book heritage. In other words, there is an emerging bias towards the non textual realities of books – at least of ancient books. This is particularly true for manuscript studies. The question of materiality, however, remains unavoidable even nowadays when we decide to edit a book in hard copy along with electronic or digital versions. As it has always been the case, there is a direct correlation of the material quality in use, of the confection techniques and the external appearance of a book. Normally, it is not to be expected to find best and fine inks, paper or parchment on the one hand and low quality scribes or illuminators on the other hand at the same time. Therefore, we will have to consider here together with the immediate material aspects corresponding but usually expensive issues like: sewing and binding techniques, layout (mise-en-page) and decoration. They too, are conditioning our assessment – even unconsciously – when we meet religious books.
  • Article
    Materiality of Writing: Reconsidering Religious Texts. Editorial
    Wessely, Christian; Pezzoli-Olgiati, Daria (2021)
    This editorial contexualises and explores different approaches to the materiality of religion focussing on various forms of texts.
  • Article
    Reading The Book of Joseph: A Communication-Oriented Analysis of Far Cry 5
    Bosman, Frank G.; van Wieringen, Archibald L. H. M. (2021)
    In the game Far Cry 5, a book called The Book of Joseph, plays an important role. It is the confession, autobiography and compilation of sermons written by Joseph Seed, the leader of the fundamentalist Christian-inspired, violent Doomsday cult “Project at Eden’s Gate”. In the game, the player is tasked to defeat Seed’s grip on – fictional – Hope County, Montana (USA). The Book of Joseph is not only found in the game, where its content is kept hidden from the player, but is also featured in a live-action trailer, called The Baptism. However, most importantly, Joseph’s book has also been published as a physical object and was distributed to the first two thousand buyers of the “Mondo Edition” of the game. In this article, the authors argue that the communicative function of The Book of Joseph differs significantly from one medial object to the next (game, trailer, book), influenced by the intertextual and intermedial relationships between those medial objects and by their exclusive characteristics. Using a communication-oriented method of text-analysis, the authors investigate the various communicative processes within the different “texts”, in order to establish the narrative “loci” of the book’s materiality.
  • Article
    The Tattoos of Armenian Genocide Survivors: Inscribing the Female Body as a Practice of Regulation
    Glum, Ulrike Luise (2021)
    In the course of the Armenian Genocide (1915–1917), an unknown number of female victims were forcibly tattooed, often on the face. Inscribing them with an alien identity, their captors permanently regulated the women’s bodies in order to assimilate them into their communities. Some women eventually escaped and found shelter in orphanages or women’s houses, but the tattoos remained on their skin, constituting a barrier to their reintegration. These women were stigmatized and shunned, their tattoos seen as a sign of sexual impurity and “transculturation”. The tattoos needed to be removed – and the women’s bodies regulated once again. Approaching tattoos as a means of regulation, this article explores how inscription materializes power dynamics in the context of the female body.
  • Article
    Writing, Affordances, and Governable Subjects
    George, Mark K. (2021)
    In the Hebrew Bible book of Deuteronomy, writing and the creation of texts is a widely shared activity. The deity writes, Moses writes, the people write, the (future) king is to have writing done for him. Apparently, part of what it means to be Israel and enact this subjectivity is to write. Maybe this is not surprising, since writing in Hebrew, a vernacular language, by those who are not part of an imperial bureaucracy and not serving imperial objectives, was fairly new when Deuteronomy was being written and assembled into a book. As a new technology, writing offered various affordances to writers, and at least three of them were realized and put into action in Deuteronomy. Writing fixes and stabilizes ideas and knowledge. In Deuteronomy, it gave a particular form and vocabulary to the commands, statutes, and ordinances of YHW and Moses, as well as to where, when, and who were understood to be present when these ideas were spoken (according to the text). Writing stabilizes and normalizes those ideas when it becomes part of social action. And writing offers itself for use in mechanisms of assessment once what is written becomes a norm for behavior. The commands, statutes, and ordinances of Deuteronomy create a metaphorical “path” for Israel, indicating how all three of these affordances play a role in creating and defining Israel’s subjectivity, which is offered to readers. When individuals understand themselves to be addressed by the book and work to put into practice what it says, they become Deuteronomy’s governable subjects.
  • Article
    “As i cannot write I put this down simply and freely”: Samplers as a Religious Material Practice
    Pezzoli-Olgiati, Daria (2021)
    Samplers are important sources for exploring the interaction between religion, text, and materiality. For centuries, needlework has been a textile technique to teach girl a skill that may have ensured an income. By means of stitches and threads, young women learned basic knowledge, patience and moral judgment. This article explores a unique sampler from the middle of the nineteenth century in Southern England. The author, a young girl called Elizabeth Parker, transforms the practice of embroidering a sampler by stitching a text that challenges social and religious conventions. The document offers a deep insight into the life, knowledge and religious life of a working girl class that “could not write” but could articulate herself by means of an ancient textile technique.