Spring 2024

Sever 104

Wednesday

12pm - 2:45pm

CompLit 159X/JEWISHST 159: Cultures of Praise in Medieval Jewish, Islamic, and Christian Contexts

Jonathan Decter

Alongside recognized rituals of praising God through liturgy, a common practice among medieval Jews, Muslims, and Christians was the offering of praise to men of power.  These praises (known as panegyrics), which survive in epistolary correspondences, literary compilations, and records of public ceremonies, reveal a great deal about how members of these religious communities imagined human virtue, group cohesion, leadership, political legitimacy, and interreligious relations. Often dismissed as mere sycophancy, the production of these praises was meaningful both for power-holders and power-subjects. As is the case with visual portraits, they tell us at least as much about the societies that produced them as the individuals they portray.

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