Friday, March 28, 2008

Writing and eating God

Another post on the regional AAR/SBL conference. I followed the Women and Religion panels, and I was especially struck by one session, entitled Women, Writing, Theology.

Min-Ah Cho from Emory started by presenting her paper "The body, ever hungered and ever desired," in which she drew a picture of Hadewijch of Antwerp's explorations of the Eucharist - eating it, sensing the body of God intimately melded with her own, writing it. Meghan Sweeney from Boston College then spoke about the connections between self-authoring and self-authorizing. She used the example of presenting a conference paper to draw out how performance exposes us - but also legitimates. Wesley Barker, also from Emory, reflected on some of her own experiences in finding her voice as a female author and female theologian - particularly in her ongoing conversation with others. Her paper, "From othered to otherwise," drew on Luce Irigaray to pose the question of what it means to identify as a woman when writing within the space of (scholarly) language.

At the end, Prof Wendy Farley from Emory responded to all three papers. Many people commented afterwards how her response had been akin to a final prayer, in which all the preceding concerns were swept up and woven together. She spoke of the different ways in which we police ourselves internally, as we write, and as we attempt to fit in with academic traditions and gendered expectations. Then she turned to the other face of writing, and spoke of the connection between writing and eating - being nourished as one finds one's voice - and of what it might mean to be called to write and eat God.

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