Public Scripture: Reading Out of Context - Call for Papers

Public Scripture: Reading out of Context
Graduate Student Colloquium in Scripture, Interpretation and Practice
March 30-31, 2014, University of Virginia
Plenary Speaker: Laurie Zoloth, Northwestern University

The 2014 Graduate Colloquium in Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice welcomes submissions of original research from graduate students on the topic “Public Scripture.”

For many religions, particularly the three so-called 'Abrahamic' traditions, the reading and interpretation of Scriptural texts are core communal practices.  But Scriptural texts do not always remain within the bounds of particular communities.  Rather, religious communities have frequently appealed to their Scriptures in the context of public debates and interfaith encounters -- with a wide range of surprising, fruitful, or even violent consequences.

With this conference, we seek to gather an interdisciplinary and interfaith group of graduate students to examine concrete examples of the public use of Scripture—what happens when religious people take scripture outside their religious communities? We hope participants will address this topic from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives -- historical, legal, theological, hermeneutic, ethical, and more.

Possible paper topics include:

  • Scripture on billboards
  • Scripture in early Jewish and Christian apologetics
  • Scripture in the establishment of governments or constitutions
  • Scripture in political campaigns or political rhetoric
  • Scripture in medieval interfaith theological disputes
  • Scripture in the civil rights movement
  • Scripture as overheard in the call to prayer
  • Scripture as read by philosophers
  • Scripture, sexuality, and sexual ethics
  • Scriptural allusions in literature
  • Scripture and biomedical or environmental ethics

Proposals in the form of a 250-word abstract should be emailed to by January 20, 2014. Acceptance notifications will be sent out by February 3, 2014. Final papers, not to exceed 2000 words, must be submitted by March 3, 2014.

This colloquium is sponsored by The Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, The Institute for Humanities and Global Cultures, The University of Virginia Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences, The Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life, The Society for Scriptural Reasoning, The University of Virginia Office of Diversity & Equality and The Department of Jewish Studies at the University of Virginia.