Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The video-taped presentations for last year's memorable Second Annual Sacred Leaves Graduate Symposium and Keynote Address (Feb. 2008) are now available for public viewing at:

The topic for the 2008 event was: "Religions of the Book: Manuscript Traditions In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, 1000-1500 CE" These excellent scholarly presentations include PowerPoint presentations of illuminated manuscripts from the medieval era.
Last month's Third Annual Sacred Leaves Graduate Symposium and Keynote Address, Feb. 19-20, 2009 (see schedule below) was a fine success, with scholars representing five countries at the two day event. Among the salient ideas that emerged during the event about mysticism in the medieval period, I offer the following:

*Mystical encounter was experienced by groups as well as individuals;
*Mystical experience was expressed in art forms, including painting, architecture, song, poetry, narrative and dance;
*Mystics were sometimes marginalized from institutional authority, and were powerful holy men/women seen as a threat to the fabric of society;
*An emphasis on direct knowledge of God was manifest across Judaism, Christianity and Islam;
*Christianity embraced suffering in imitation of Christ as a mystical way;
*The Hebrew Psalms and Song of Songs emphasize a divine love written in nature and its fertile beauty;
*Michael Sells defines the "eroticism" of mysticism as a move beyond the confines of the body.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sacred Leaves Graduate Symposium 2009


Third Annual Sacred Leaves Graduate Symposium
February 19-20, 2009

University of South Florida, Tampa Library, Tampa, FL

Keynote Address: Michael Sells, John Henry Barrows Professor, University of Chicago:

"Mysticism, Longing and the Erotic in the Writings of 13th-century Sufi Master Ibn al-Arabi"

In a period of one hundred fifty years, mystical literature in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam burgeoned across wide areas of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The author of classical texts of the Zohar and other texts of Jewish Kabbalah, the Beguines(Christian women writers who were not nuns in the formal sense), the Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart, and Sufis such as Ibn al-`Arabi and Rumi are just a few of the major figures within this efflorescence.

In this talk, Michael Sells takes up the love poetry of Ibn al-`Arabi, both on its own terms and as an opening to the wider role of sexual and erotic themes within the mystical literature of the period. He presents several of the short poems with Ibn al-`Arabi's "Translation of Desires" both as examples of two trends of classical Arabic love poetry--the bedouin and the courtly--and as a core element in unfolding Sufi understanding of mystical union. Finally he examines the lover and beloved in Ibn al-`Arabi's poems, represented by an Arab and a Persian as emblematic of an erotics of cultural encounter that brings cultural worlds said to be incapable of bridging into a union of opposites.

Thurs. Feb. 19, 7 p.m., Alumni Center, Traditions Hall, University of South Florida/Tampa (Sponsored by the USF Humanities Institute)
reception to follow

(USF/Tampa Library, Special Collections, 4th Floor)

Thursday, Feb. 19

12:45-1:00 p.m. WELCOME, Dr. Mark I. Greenberg, Director of Special and Digital Collections

SESSION ONE: 1:00-2:30 p.m. Mysticism in Image and Word
(Moderator: Prof. Christine M. Probes, USF Dept. of World Languages and USF Humanities Institute)

*Betsy Chunko, University of Virginia, "The Holy Face and the Status of the Visual in Byzantine Art”

*Rob Morhauser, San Diego State University, “Authenticity through Structure in Ælfric and Bede”

*Rachel D. Gibson, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, “Obscurity in Medieval Sufic Poetry and the French Troubadour Lyric”

2:30-3:00 p.m. BREAK

SESSION TWO: 3:00-4:30 p.m. Mysticism and Society
(Moderator: Prof. Miriam Esformes, USF Dept. of World Languages)

*Christine Dunn, Indiana University-Bloomington, "Ubertino of Casale’s Struggle against the `Heresy of the Free Spirit': Mysticism and Ethics in the Joachimite Sixth Era"

*Javier Montoya, University of Florida, "Locura: The Spanish Inquisition, the Alumbrados, and Women in Sixteenth Century Toldeo"

*Russell Hopley, Bowdoin College, “Sufis and Holy Men in Medieval Andalusia and North Africa"

Friday, Feb. 20

8:30-8:55 a.m. Morning Welcome and Coffee

SESSION THREE: 9:00-10:30 a.m. Mysticism and Judaism
(Moderator: Prof. Cass Fisher, USF Dept. of Religious Studies)

*Shon Hopkin, University of Texas-Austin, "Neo-platonism and the Jewish Longing for Zion in Medieval Spain"

*David Shyovitz, University of Pennsylvania, "`He Has Created a Remembrance of His Wonders' : Science and Mysticism in the Thought of the Hasidei Ashkenaz"

*Patrick Koch, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "The Critique of Sanctimonious Conduct in Jewish Moralistic Writings -- A Short Survey"

10:30-11:00 BREAK

SESSION FOUR: 11:00-12:00 p.m. Christian Mystical Texts I
(Moderator: Prof. Nicole Guenther Discenza, USF Dept. of English)

*Natalia Khomenko, York University-Ontario, " `Behold, Unhurt I Swim, Playing, in the Hot Liquid': The Use of Paradox in Hrotsvit of Gandersheim's Plays"

*Travis Neel, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, " `Come Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord': The Anxiety of Descent in William of St. Thierry's On Contemplating God"

12:00-1:15 p.m. LUNCH

SESSION FIVE: 1:15-2:45 p.m. Christian Mystical Texts II
(Moderator: Prof. Gregory Milton, USF Dept. of History)

*Carla M. Thomas, Florida State University, "Finding Connections: 'On Ureisun of Oure Louerde' and the Lambeth Homilies"

*Corey Wronski-Mayersak, Cornell University, “Writing Unity and Dissolution: Self-Reflection in the Mirror of Simple and Annihilated Souls

*Anna Dlabacová, Leiden University-the Netherlands, “Mysticism in the Shadow of the Burgundian Court: A New Perspective in Hendrik Herp’s Spieghel der volcomenheit (ca. 1455-1460)”

2:45-3:00 BREAK

SESSION SIX: 3:00-3:45 Mysticism and Medieval Literature
(Moderator: Prof. Gaetan Brulotte, USF Dept. of World Languages)

*Astrid Guillaume, Université Paris-Sorbonne, “Mysticism in Medieval Culture: When Omnipresence becomes Implicit”

RESPONDENT: *Prof. Anne Latowsky, USF Dept. of World Languages

3:45-4:00 p.m. Closing Discussion
(Moderator: Dr. Jane Marie Pinzino, USF Tampa Library)

For more information, please contact:

Jane Marie Pinzino, PhD
University of South Florida/Tampa Library
Special and Digital Collections Department
4202 E. Fowler Ave., LIB 122
Tampa, FL 33620-5400
(813) 974-2731