Vol. 8
1999

Judaism at the Boston Meeting of the AAR, Nov 1999

Program Notes by Peter Ochs (University of Virginia)

Friends,

many of us were upset last winter to learn, only in the annual AAR Call for Papers, that the AAR Judaism Section for 1999 would not offer its usual Call for Papers for its usual collection of 5-7 sessions (some co-sponsored). This interrupted a rather important center of research and discussion for many of us in Jewish Studies. For many years now, the Study of Judaism Section of the ARR has offered approximately 6 fairly strong sessions at the annual AAR meeting There are indeed many Jewish-related sessions at the SBL, but at the AAR the Judaism Section has been the principle source of Jewish-related discussion year in and year out. We were thus upset to learn that in place of the usual sessions there would be only a Business Meeting and an open discussion of the role of Jewish Studies in the AAR.

After protests from several quarters, the Judaism offerings were slightly altered. On the official program, there would be a Business Meeting announced for the Section (Chaired by Yudith Greenberg) and there would be one Special Topics Session in which some scholars would discuss "The Study of Judaism in the Context of Religious Studies."

In addition, some of us were given the opportunity to offer two ADDITIONAL MEETINGS in Jewish Studies: These would not be in the regular program listing and index, but WOULD be included in the Additional Meetings posted in the back of the Program Book, pp. 180ff.

In the following, WE OFFER DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT THE JUDAISM OFFERINGS THAT ARE PLANNED FOR THIS YEAR'S AAR. WE HOPE YOU WILL GIVE THEM ALL STRONG SUPPORT -- HOPEFULLY COMING EARLIER TO THE AAR AS WELL THIS YEAR TO SUPPORT THE MEETINGS THAT WERE SLOTTED ONLY FOR SATURDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT. WE HOPE YOU WILL ALSO MAKE A SHOWING AT THE BUSINESS MEETING TO HELP FORM A STRONG NEW LEADERSHIP GROUP FOR THE SECITON.... For those who are not familiar with such things, we also offer an APPENDIX about how the Judaism Section usually is run.

Best,

Peter Ochs

OFFERINGS: Please support these sessions!!

A) Sessions related to Textual Reasoning and the Society for Scriptural Reasoning

#1 OUR ADDITIONAL MEETING #1:

Critical Issues in Jewish Bioethics: Limits and Visions in Human Genetic Intervention Saturday 11/20/99 11:00am-1:00pm. S-Beacon E

(This is AM82 in the Program Book, P. 188.)

Laurie Zoloth, Chair.

Presenters: Robert Gibbs, Dena Davis, Peter Ochs, Ronald Green, Sandra Wheeler.

For additional information: contact Laurie Zoloth at lzoloth@sfsu.edu or 415 338-3154

The presenters will respond to documents about the Genome Project, on the basis of readings in Jewish ethics, Talmud, and general ethics and law. Bring food and plan for a Shabbat style study session with much discussion.

#2 OUR ADDITIONAL MEETING #2:

Ethics and Memory after the Cataclysm:

Responding to Edith Wyschogrod's "An Ethics of Remembering"

Saturday November 20, 9:00-11:00 pm Hynes, Room 303

(AM107, Program Book, P. 190.)

Peter Ochs, University of Virginia, Chair

Zachary Braiterman, Syracuse University

"Holocaust Sublime? The State of the Image and the Ethics of Remembering"

Susan Shapiro, Columbia University

"The (Im)memorial: Memory and Representation in Post-Holocaust and Postmodern Writing"

Jacob Meskin, Hebrew College

"Tradition, Culture, and the Limits of Historical Reflection"

This session takes up the profound challenges issued by Edith Wyschogrod in her recent book, An Ethics of Remembering: History, Heterology, and the Nameless Others. Wyschogrod addresses herself to what may be the most serious philosophical dilemma which confronts the modern project of history. On the one hand, philosophers of history and literary critics have shown that it is not possible for the historian to reproduce the past as it really was--because the original, i.e. the original "past" in question, against which we might check our representations, is long gone. This problem introduces many complications into how we think about history. On the other hand, many argue that--especially in the twentieth century--we have a dire need for the historian to enable us to remember shattering events of mass death. Exploring this difficult dilemma and its implications, Wyschogrod meditates on different approaches and media--text, image, voice, cyber--seeking ways to delineate the task of what she terms the "heterological historian". The heterological historian is a practitioner of the modern discipline of history whose task as a historian is defined by her responsibility to the nameless others murdered and obliterated in events of mass-death. In other words, Wyschogrod could be taken to be arguing that the epistemological basis or warrant for writing history, or for any sort of historical representation, lies first in ethics (responsibility). The panelists and chair will examine this idea, and its relationship to issues in philosophy of religion, Jewish thought, Jewish studies, literary criticism, and religious studies.

[Program description: Jacob Meskin.]

This is a difficult time slot for a major book of great interest in postmodern philosophy, in the philosophy of history, and in Jewish thought and philosophy. So please get the word out to your colleagues to join us!

#3. Our annual meeting in Textual Reasoning: Reception and Study Session

Teaching Troubling Texts

Panelists: Krister Stendahl and Robert Goldenberg

Sunday 11/21/99 7:30-9pm. S-Beacon F

NOTE: THE TIME IS EARLIER THAN USUAL AND DIFFERENT THAN THAT SHOWN IN THE AAR PROGRAM BOOK. (Cf. AM186, P. 195.)

About the theme see the expositions in the current issue.

#4. Society for Scriptural Reasoning:

The Rules of Scriptural Reasoning (A Year of Reflection after Four Years of Reading)

Monday 11/22/99 9:00pm-11:00pm. S-Berkeley A&B

(AM222 in the Program Book, P. 190.)

Chairs: Elliot Wolfson (NYU) and Daniel Hardy (Cambridge).

Presenter: Peter Ochs (UVA)

Respondents: James Buckley (Loyola, Md), Robert Gibbs (Toronto), Garrett Green (Conn College), Abdulaziz Sachedina (UVA).

Business Meeting to follow: Presiding Kurt Richardson (Gordon Conwell)

PAPERS AND RESPONSES ARE DELIVERED PRIOR TO THE MEETING.

To obtain copies or to request membership contact Kurt Richardson: kar@zinngrabe.gcts.edu or 978-468-7111. Or visit the Scriptural Reasoning website at:

http://www.depts.drew.edu/ssr. This address connects to the Drew SSR site.Look for the link to the national SSR site.

B) THE STUDY OF JUDAISM SECTION

A141 - Study of Judaism Section

Sunday, November 21, 1999. 3:45pm- 6:15pm

Theme: Conversation about Study of Judaism Section.

Yudit K. Greenberg, Rollins College, Presiding

All AAR members with an interest in the study of Judaism are urged to attend this session to discuss and plan the future of the section and its scholarly work.

C) OTHER MEETINGS OF INTEREST TO THE STUDY OF JUDAISM

A82 - Comparative Studies in Hinduisms and Judaisms Group

Sunday, November 21, 1999. 9:00am- 11:30 am

Theme: Sakti and Shekhinah: Tantric and Kabbalistic Representations of the Feminine

Yudit K. Greenberg, Rollins College, Presiding

Paul E. Muller-Ortega, University of Rochester

The Arising of the Wheel of Consciousness: The Twelve Pulsations of the Sakti as the Goddess Kali

Elliot R. Wolfson, New York University

Through the Glass Darkly: Israel, the Shekhinah, and the Cosmic Wheel

Barbara A. Holdrege, University of California, Santa Barbara Respondent

Pinchas Giller, University of Judaism, Respondent

A169 - Comparative Studies in Hinduisms and Judaisms Group

Monday, November 22, 1999. 9:00am- 11:30am

Theme: Hermeneutical Strategies in Rabbinic and Brahmanical Traditions

Gregory Spinner, Tulane University, Presiding

Timothy Lubin, Washington and Lee University

The Virtuosic Exegesis of the Brahmavadin and the Rabbi

Michael S. Berger, Emory University

Bhrgu and Moses Go Back to the Future: The Transformative Role of Time in Commentarial Narrative, Part One

Laurie L. Patton, Emory University

Bhrgu and Moses Go Back to the Future: The Transformative Role of Time in Commentarial Narrative, Part Two

Paul Morris, Victoria University

Comparative Hermeneutics: Rabbinic and Brahmanical Textual Strategies

Francis X. Clooney, Boston College, Respondent

Barbara A. Holdrege, University of California, Santa Barbara, Business Meeting

Paul Morris, Victoria University, Business Meeting

APPENDIX

The AAR folks choose a Section Chair (or Chairs), who serve 3 year terms and whose work is aided by a Committee of about 4 colleagues each year. The Chair and Committee do the following each year: i)They hold a Business meeting at the ANNUAl AAR, during which they collect ideas for the next year's meetings FROM WHOEVER CHOOSES TO ATTEND; ii) After the Business Meeting they meet fairly immediately to draw up a CALL FOR PAPERS for the next year's meeting. The approx 6-8 TOPICS listed in the CALL come directly from the Business Meeting PLUS a few ideas they have themselves (sometimes these come in the form of full panels suggested by a given group of scholars, from the AAR itself, and so on; sometimes one or two such panels are offered without a call -- for example to bring in some very well known folks); iii) After the AAR Meetings, they have only about 1-2 weeks (if I recall from when I did it, but this may change) to complete their Call and send it in to the AAR administration. This CALL is then posted (in late Jan or Feb); iv) in late Feb/March (or so) they receive formal Paper proposals. The CHAIR receives these, sends them out to the Committee who votes on preferences. The Chair then collects the votes, and the Committee decides how to put together the best collection of sessions. The decisions include some last-minute discussions with other SECTIONS, for co-sponsored events. Sometimes they also have to call possible speakers directly to fill in a session that is missing one paper or one respondent, and so on.....

Every few years, each SECTION is reviewed. (A couple of years ago, I recall, I reviewed Phil of Religion. This means I read up on all they had done the past 5 years or so. I sat in all the Phil of Religion sessions for one year at the AAR meeting. And by phone and in person, I interviewed the SECTION chair and committee and some of the AAR administration. I then wrote a longish report on the directions they had taken and were planning to take; what kinds of response they had received; how their work related to directions the AAR wanted to take; and what my sense was, from interviews, about How Strong the Section had been, what areas they were great in, and what areas they might want to pursue with more energy... PS I really liked what Phil of Religion was doing!)

(Compiled by Peter Ochs.)