Scripture, Saints and the Sacred Symposium

On Monday, 28th March a graduate symposium entitled ‘Scripture, Saints and the Sacred’ was held at Newnham College, Cambridge. It was organised by Maria Czepiel, James Miller and Cat Watts and generously funded by the AHRC OOC DTP.

The idea for the event had grown out of conversations between doctoral students who felt that it would be helpful to have an opportunity to present research, receive feedback from a friendly group of peers, and network with other researchers studying anything related to the broad field of religious literature.

Our event began with a workshop led by the historian (and AHRC alumna!) Dr Harriet Lyon. The title of the workshop was ‘Literary and material afterlives of the dissolution of the monasteries’, and consisted of a discussion of literary texts and images which displayed various reactions to the dissolution in the generations which followed it, uniting various disciplines (historical, literary, art-historical). On a personal level, Dr Lyon also spoke about her experience of the PhD and beyond, and encouraged us to persevere! All in all, as well as being fascinating, the workshop served as something of an ice-breaker.

The rest of the day consisted of nine speakers from four different faculties, spanning various time periods and geographical areas. Our first panel consisted of papers dealing with the medieval period. The papers were very varied and covered both orthodox and Western contexts; however, we noticed various parallels which helped to generate fruitful discussion. After lunch (kindly funded by the AHRC and provided by Newnham College) we had our second panel on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Our final panel covered the eighteenth century and beyond; once again, the papers were varied, including such diverse topics as French book-printing and a Punjabi folk-tale. The discussion continued afterwards at the pub!

Overall, the event was definitely a success! The interdisciplinary nature of the workshop and the range of subjects covered in the presentations gave us an insight into the different methodologies being used in research on religious literature. It was also great to foster personal and professional links with other OOC DTP researchers in person, and we hope to continue building this community in the future!