14-16 July 2014

Chosen Peoples, Promised Lands: The Bible, Race, and Nation in the Long Nineteenth Century

Speakers include:

  • Stephen Haynes (Rhodes College)
  • Anthony D. Smith (LSE)
  • Dorothy Figueira (Georgia)
  • Stephen K. Batalden (Arizona)
  • Alex Bremner (Edinburgh)
  • Hilary M. Carey (Bristol)
  • John Coffey (Leicester)
  • Hephzibah Israel (Edinburgh)
  • Halvor Moxnes (Oslo)

Chosen Peoples, Promised Lands will bring together scholars from across a variety of disciplines to throw new light on the biblical themes, ideas, and metaphors that undergird ideas about racial and national identity in the modern world. More specifically, we seek to explore the how biblical notions of lineage, descent, and inheritance continued to inform ideas of race and nation in the increasingly secular and scientific atmosphere of the long nineteenth century. Notwithstanding the publication of several recent works on religion and nationhood, nationalism and race are still often considered in secular terms. The aim of this conference is to explore the means through which a range of nations and races have forged their identities in conversation with the textual traditions of the Abrahamic religions.

Conference organisers: Dr Gareth AtkinsDr Shinjini DasDr Brian Murray.

Further details


19-20 June 2014

Persistence of the Past in Nineteenth Century Scholarship

This workshop proposes a new approach to the intellectual life of nineteenth-century Britain. It will investigate the surprising persistence of early modern learning in the rhetoric and practice of scholarly disciplines, ranging from biblical criticism to anthropology and the writing of history.

Convened by Mr Scott Mandelbrote, History

Speakers include:

  • Professor Lori Anne Ferrell, Claremont Graduate University
  • Professor Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
  • Professor Colin Kidd, University of St. Andrews
  • Dr James Kirby, University of Oxford
  • Professor Walter Stephens, Johns Hopkins University
  • Professor Rosemary Sweet, University of Leicester
  • Dr Martha Vandrei, King’s College London
  • Dr Brian Young, University of Oxford

Further details


13 February 2014

Collecting Greece in the 19th Century: Text, Image, Object, Knowledge

An interdisciplinary conference at CRASSH

The explosion of the study of classical and biblical past in the nineteenth century was not the work of armchair scholars alone. From Athos to Alexandria, from Sicily to Sinai, the 19th century Mediterranean and Levant teemed with manuscript-hunters, archaeologists, scholars and lay adventurers, painters and poets, robbers and forgers, spies and missionaries.

The Hellenic tradition provided many with a prism through which to understand numerous different civilizational layers of the pre-historical, classical and biblical past. They set out on their explorations of the textual and material past with different ideas of Greece, in the service of different empires, institutions or Churches, but the collections with which they returned and the libraries and museums they filled challenged established traditions of classical philology and biblical studies, transformed the scholarly understanding of the histories of the ancient world, the past and present of Christianity and Judaism, and profoundly inspired the visual arts.

This one-day interdisciplinary conference will bring together classicists and historians of art, of scholarship and of religion to explore the collection of very textual, visual and material kinds of knowledge about different layers of Greek civilization: Homeric, Attic, Hellenistic, Byzantine; pagan, Jewish, Christian.

Confirmed speakers: Natalie Tchernetska, Robin Cormack, Kate Nichols, and Gareth Atkins.

Further details


24 October 2013

Ernest Renan’s Work and Influence

Ernest Renan is one of the most influential scholars of the nineteenth century, both through his “Life of Jesus” and his history of the Jews. This one day seminar brings together some of the world’s leading scholars on Renan, with Guy Stroumsa as our key note presenter, to discuss Renan’s work and influence.


Robert D. Priest, The Making of ‘Life of Jesus’, 1845-63
Response: Brian H. Murray

Guy Stroumsa, Renan on Judaism and Islam: « LE DĖSERT EST MONOTHĖISTE »
Response: Jeremy Morris

Theo Dunkelgrün, Ernest Renan, Talmudist
Response: Nick de Lange

Isabel di Vanna, Ernest Renan and Republicanism
Response: Simon Gathercole

23 June 2013

Visualising the Bible in the Nineteenth Century

What is the artist’s role – and responsibility – in visually interpreting the Bible? How did this change in nineteenth-century Britain, when the stability of scripture was increasingly uncertain? How do sacred texts in particular pose problems for the relationship between the verbal and the visual? This one day colloquium will consider how religious belief, form, function, medium, gender, and sexuality figured in representations of Biblical narrative, spanning textiles, painting, drawing and sculpture.


Michaela Giebelhausen (Essex)
Colin Cruise (Aberystwyth)
Ayla Lepine (Yale/Courtauld)
Claire Jones (York)

10 June 2013

The Camera and the Critic: Photography, Antiquity and Nineteenth-Century Scholarship

Introduction: Theo Dunkelgrün

David Gange (Birmingham), ‘The Technopolitics of Antiquity: Egyptologists, Cameras & Egyptians, 1839-1914’.
Response: Simon Goldhill

Stefanie Klamm (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz), ‘Photography and the Plurality of Media at Late Nineteenth-Century (German) Excavations’.
Response: Chitra Ramalingam

Scott Mandelbrote (Cambridge), ‘Facsimiles and Biblical Scholarship, c. 1600 – c. 1900’.
Response: Janet Soskice

Michael Reeve (Cambridge), ‘A Photographic Negative’.
Response: Michael Ledger-Lomas

14 March 2013

Anthropology and Religion in the Nineteenth Century

Anthropology was invented as a subject in the late nineteenth century; it is impossible to consider this disciplinary innovation without taking account of how anthropology is shaped by religion – its response to the discoveries of the myths, rituals and ideological appurtenances of the religions of the world; its response to the religions of the past especially Egypt, Greece and Rome; the response to Christianity from its major practitioners. This colloquium is to discuss these issues.

Tim Larsen (Wheaton, USA), ‘Frazer, Anthropology and the Bible’.

Tim Jenkins (Cambridge), ‘Magnetism, animal’ in the 9th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1885)’.

David Gange (Birmingham), ‘Reading the Book of the Dead in the 1890s’.

Shruti Kapila (Cambridge), ‘After Orientalism: Evolutionism and Hinduism’.


David Maxwell (Cambridge)
Peter Mandler (Cambridge)
Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge)
Shinjini Das (CRASSH, Cambridge)