2020/2021

Books Known Only by Title

Exploring the Gendered Structures of First Millennium Imagined Libraries

Humanities

Principal investigators

Marianne Bjelland Kartzow

Professor
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS

Liv Ingeborg Lied

Professor
Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF)
Year at CAS

Abstract

References to books ascribed to figures known from the extended biblical narrative are abundant in Jewish, Christian, Manichean, Muslim, and other texts from the first millennium. One intriguing category of such references that remains largely unexplored is books known only by title. Books known only by title are postulated books surviving neither as extant documents, nor as excerpts or quotations of any substantial length - these books are claimed books, known as named entities through the medium of other writings. Books that fall into this category are found, for instance, in lists of apocryphal books; in annotations added by later hands in the margins of surviving manuscripts; as well as in literary accounts across the language traditions of the Middle East and the Mediterranean area. In a preliminary study of books known only by title, we discovered - much to our surprise - that several of these books are ascribed to female figures, such as Eve, the daughters of Adam, and the mysterious figure of Noriah. Until now, these postulated books ascribed to female figures of the biblical narrative have not attracted the attention they deserve. The practice of ascribing potentially fictitious books to female figures has neither been mapped, nor analyzed or systematically explored as a historical, literary and socio-rhetorical phenomenon.

Drawing on and combining theoretical perspectives developed in Book History and Gender Studies, this project aims at mapping the occurrences of books known only by title and associated with female figures from the broadly conceived, and evolving, biblical narrative - from Qumran to the Qur'an. The project will explore the gendered patterns in the imaginations of such books. We will 1) discuss and contextualize the known examples of postulated books ascribed to female figures, 2) search for other still overlooked occurrences, 3) explore and analyze the rhetorical, literary, and potential social functions of these books, 4) contribute to the further knowledge building and theorizing about the gendered dynamics of postulated books, and 5) critically engage the dominant academic imagination of first millennium literary culture. Accordingly, based on a largely untapped source material, and focusing on a phenomenon that remains unexplored, this project aims to change conventional ideas about book culture, imagined libraries, and gender in the first millennium.

Fellows

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Mika Ahuvia

Assistant Professor
University of Washington
Year at CAS

Vemund Blomkvist

Associate Professor
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS
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Francis Borchardt

Associate Professor
NLA University College
Year at CAS

Esther Brownsmith

Postdoctoral Fellow
Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF)
Year at CAS

Christian Hervik Bull

Associate Professor
Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF)
Year at CAS
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Ismo Dunderberg

Professor
University of Helsinki
Year at CAS
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Nora S. Eggen

Lecturer
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS

Årstein Justnes

Professor
University of Agder (UiA)
Year at CAS

Nils Hallvard Korsvoll

Associate Professor
University of Agder (UiA)
Year at CAS

Kasper Bro Larsen

Associate Professor
Aarhus University
Year at CAS

Outi Lehtipuu

Lecturer
University of Helsinki
Year at CAS

Hugo Lundhaug

Professor
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS

Marilena Maniaci

Professor
University of Cassino and Southern Lazio
Year at CAS

Matthew P. Monger

Associate Professor
Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF)
Year at CAS
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Eva Mroczek

Associate Professor
University of California, Davis
Year at CAS
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Laura S. Nasrallah

Professor
Yale University
Year at CAS
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Seth Sanders

Professor
University of California, Davis
Year at CAS

Sabine Schmidtke

Professor
Institute for Advanced Study, IAS
Year at CAS

Jens Schröter

Professor
Humboldt University Berlin
Year at CAS

Rebecca Solevåg

Professor
VID Specialized University
Year at CAS
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Blossom Stefaniw

Dr.
Heisenberg Fellow at German Research Foundation
Year at CAS
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Loren Stuckenbruck

Professor
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Year at CAS

Hanna Tervanotko

Assistant Professor
McMaster University
Year at CAS

Sissel Undheim

Professor
University of Bergen (UiB)
Year at CAS

Jorunn Økland

Professor
University of Bergen (UiB)
Year at CAS

News

Liv Ingeborg Lied, professor at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF), served as project leader at CAS back in 2020/2021 together with professor Marianne Bjelland Kartzow. Their project, 'Books Known Only by Title: Exploring the Gendered Structures of First Millennium Imagined Libraries', delved into the largely unexplored category of "books known only by the title" in texts from the first millennium, focusing specifically on postulated books associated with female figures from the biblical narrative.

Events