Announcing a Multi-Disciplinary Academic Conference on the Iconography of Judith and Holofernes

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Announcing a call for papers for the spring 2008 multi-disciplinary academic conference The Sword of Judith: Female Agency and the Aesthetics of Terror for art historians, literary critics and italian renaissance and biblical scholars. A conference on the iconography and sacred traditions of the Biblical heroine Judith funded by the Brine Family Charitable Trust.

Announcing a call for papers for the spring 2008 multi-disciplinary academic conference The Sword of Judith: Female Agency and the Aesthetics of Terror for art historians, literary critics and italian renaissance and biblical scholars. A conference on the iconography and sacred traditions of the Biblical heroine Judith funded by the Brine Family Charitable Trust.

This multidisciplinary scholarly conference and publication is designed to promote collaboration and exchange between scholars, writers, and critics working on Judith in biblical studies, literary criticism, feminist and psychoanalytical theory, art history, Italian Renaissance, English, and Hellenistic studies.

The biblical heroine Judith is one of the most challenging and provocative figures in the Judeo-Christian tradition and Western art. Why does Judith continue to receive so much scholarly and critical attention? For over 2,200 years the canonicity of The Book of Judith, the historical basis of the narrative, and its authorship has been challenged and disputed. Donatello's sculpture Judith and Holofernes is studied as a metaphor for the de Medici rule of Florence; Artemisia Gentileschi's painting Judith and Holofernes is studied as a metaphor for female resistance to male dominance.

The powerful appeal to the visual imagination of the Judith narrative has inspired and challenged Western scribes, illustrators, draftsman, painters, and sculptors for two millennia. The Judith text is part of the earliest and most complete manuscript of Beowulf. Judith was portrayed by both Dante in The Divine Comedy and Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales. The intellectually influential Lucrezia Tornabuoi de Medici wrote an important religious poem titled "Judith" in the fifteenth century. Donatello, Mantegna, Giorgione, Michelangelo, Artemisia Gentileschi, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Johann Liss, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Mozart, Scarlatti, Martha Graham, and Lope de Vegas have all presented us with creative interpretations of Judith. Judith's beheading of Holofernes is a paradigm for female agency; its depiction invokes the aesthetic of sublime terror.

The figure of Judith is kept alive in the Jewish tradition on the festival of Chanukah. Pope John Paul's homily on Judith and Mary reaffirmed Judith's traditional parallel to the mother of Christ. Roman Catholics still chant Judith's liturgy as part of the triennial lectionary on appointed days. Submissions to the Judith conference and publication are encouraged from scholars working from within the Jewish and Christian traditions.

Up to ten university- or operating foundation-administered grants are available from $6,000 to $11,000 for research on the Judith theme. Submissions should include the scholar's CV and a proposal limited to 1,500 words. Grant request submissions must include the administering institution's name, address, federal tax identification number, nonprofit designation, the name of acting department/program chair or director, a detailed pro forma budget request, and the e-mail address of the institution's administrative contact. Grant requests require the signature of the department chair/program director. The budget can include up to 20 percent department allocation. Direct all submissions to Judith2008(at)rarewildflower.org.

Submission and Publication Timeline:

  • November 30, 2007 -- Proposal submission deadline.
  • December 31, 2007 -- New works selected (Distinguished Academic Panel in formation). Applicants notified by e-mail.
  • January 15, 2008 -- Grants remitted for university- and foundation-administered grants.
  • Spring 2008 -- Scholarly conference held: The Sword of Judith: Feminine Agency and the Aesthetics of Terror. Participating scholars will present works-in-progress. All travel expenses will be paid for participants. (Conference location details to follow.)
  • August 31, 2008 -- All final entries submitted by e-mail for publication. On receipt of the publishable final paper, the remaining 30 percent of the research/production stipend remitted. Work submitted after August 31 will not be eligible for the final payment or publication.
  • Fall 2008/Winter 2009 -- Publication of The Sword of Judith: Feminine Agency and the Aesthetics of Terror by Jason McCoy Inc./Caryatid LLC Publications.

About the sponsorship of The Sword of Judith Conference and Publication
The Sword of Judith conference and publication is sponsored by the Brine Family Charitable Trust, founded by Kevin R. Brine in 1989 to support academic research at New York's educational, medical, and cultural institutions. Past exhibitions and conferences funded by the trust have included The Sir William Jones Symposium: "Scholarly Reflections," held at New York University in 1994; Heroic Armor of the Italian Renaissance: Filippo Negroli and his Contemporaries, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1999; and Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006. Mr. Brine's books include Objects of Enquiry: (co-edited with Garland Cannon) The Life, Contributions, and Influences of Sir William Jones (1746-1794), New York: New York University Press, 1995; and The Porch of the Caryatids: Drawings, Paintings, and Sculptures: With essays by Kevin R. Brine, Graham Nickson, Adam Weinberg, Mariët Westermann and Alexandra Munroe, New York: Jason McCoy; Watermill, NY: Caryatid LLC, 2006.

The Sword of Judith: Female Agency and the Aesthetic of Terror 2008 Conference and Publication
The Brine Family Charitable Trust

Copyright Brine Family Charitable Trust
E-mail: Judith2008(at)rarewildflower.org

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Michelle Roth
The Brine Family Charitable Trust
212-794-0990
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