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AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Eastern Orthodox Studies Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit focuses on the critical study of the theology, culture, history, and practices of the Eastern Christian churches, including their mutual interaction and engagement with Western Christian and non-Christian groups.

Call for Papers: 

The Icon
As theological witness, devotional object, political symbol, and art commodity, the icon has been revered as sacred, valued as masterpiece, and appropriated for civic and political purposes. This panel considers the icon’s diverse meanings and functions from late antiquity to the present day, including but not limited to: the theology of the icon; icon and Orthodox spirituality; the iconographic vocation; aesthetics; ritual and liturgical practices; delineation of sacred space; history and memory; semiotics; political and national identities; controversial images and forms of iconoclasm; iconicity and authenticity; and the icon and the modern world of art. Participants: Vera Shevzov, Smith College (Presiding), Mariamni Plested, Marquette University (respondent), Elena Kravchenko, Washington University, St. Louis (panelist), Aaron Hollander, University of Chicago (panelist), Evan Freeman, Yale University / St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (panelist) and Roberto De La Noval, University of Notre Dame (panelist).

Maximus the Confessor: Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Times (Pre-arranged session)
Maximus the Confessor (d. 662) is widely regarded as one of the greatest of early Christian theologians, and recent decades have witnessed an enormous revival of scholarly interest in his thought. This panel of speakers brings together experts on Maximus to discuss the significance of his work for contemporary theological, historical and cultural conversations, especially issues related to anthropology, the cultivation of a virtuous life and Maximus's seminal role in the history of modern theology and philosophy. Participants: Jennifer Newsome Martin, University of Notre Dame (presiding), Aristotle Papanikolaou, Fordham University (respondent), Demetrios Bathrellos, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge (panelist), Paul M. Blowers, Emmanuel Christian Seminary-Milligan College (panelist), Thomas Cattoi, Graduate Theological Union (panelist) and Katya Tolstaya, VU University, Amsterdam (panelist).

Co-sponsored session with Comparative Theology Unit
Eastern Orthodoxy and the Comparative Theological Enterprise
This roundtable panel session aims to: 1) explore how Eastern Orthodox approaches to the theology of religions can enrich comparative theological methodology; 2) show how Eastern Orthodox constructive theology will be opened up to new possibilities by embracing comparative theology; 3) demonstrate how Eastern Orthodox comparative theology takes shape when following Francis X. Clooney’s emphasis on studying “stubborn particulars” as opposed to generalities; and 4) illustrate how Eastern Orthodoxy can function as a unique object of study for comparative theologians grounded in traditions outside of Christianity. This session will bring together Orthodox comparative theologians, a Buddhist comparative theologian who engages with Eastern Christianity, and a senior scholar in the field of comparative theology to examine the unique contribution the Eastern Christian Traditions may bring to the field as a whole. Participants: Brandon Gallaher, University of Exeter (presiding), Michelle Voss Roberts, Wake Forest University School of Divinity (respondent), Kerry San Chirico, Villanova University (panelist), Rico Gabriel Monge, University of San Diego (panelist), Joel Gruber, University of San Diego (panelist) and Zachary Ugolnik, Columbia University (panelist).

Co-sponsored session with Comparative Theology Unit
Making Meaning of Mary: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Images (Actual and Virtual) of the Mother of Jesus
Marian iconography (actual imagery, especially as found in Eastern Christian/Orthodox tradition), in turn, calls to mind virtual imagery of Mary the Mother of Jesus —the titles for and “portraits” of Mary that can be gleaned from the sacred writings of both Christianity and Islam. It points to the need for more thorough knowledge of the multiple perspectives from which Mary may be seen in the Islamic tradition. In turn, it raises the question of uses to which actual and virtual images of Mary have been put—both dialogically and polemically. This panel seeks to provide resources for comparative theological conversation about Mary by calling fresh attention to particular Eastern Christian Christian images of the Mother of Jesus on the one hand, and by shining fresh light on select virtual images from the Islamic tradition on the other. Participants: Nicolas Mumejian, Hartford Seminary (presider), Lucinda Mosher, Hartford Seminary (respondent), Brian A. Butcher, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, University of Toronto (panelist), Rita George-Tvrtkovic, Loyola University Chicago (panelist), Asma Afsaruddin, Indiana University (panelist), Younus Mirza, Allegheny College (panelist) and Maria Massi Dakake, George Mason University (panelist).

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee