Events Uncategorized

Discussions with Deborah Feldman in Potsdam and Berlin

The Friedrich Nauman Foundation is organising two discussions with Deborah Feldman. The first event took place on Wednesday, March 6, in the city of Potsdam (Waschhaus, at 8 pm), the upcoming discussion will be today, March 12, in Berlin (Frannz Club, at 6 pm).

Deborah Feldman grew up as a member of the Hasidic Satmar Group in Williamsburg, New York. Her life was marked by strict rules, which had to be observed rigorously. Her first cautious attempts to break out of that world failed. She was forced into marrying a man she barely knew and soon afterwards gave birth to her child. Eventually, Feldman cut ties with her community to live first in Manhattan and later in New England. Today she is based in Berlin.

In her autobiographical narratives “Unorthodox” (2012) and “Überbitten” (2017) well received by German critics Deborah Feldman tells her story. In our discussion tonight, we will focus on passages from “Überbitten.“ Following her lecture, we will speak about identity in religion and literature. What does “identity“ mean? What are the links between personal story-telling, autobiographical writing and identity construction? Which challenges exist for an author in search of identity, when they want to escape a strictly religious community into an open society?
We kindly invite you to join our discussion! For more information please look at:!/Veranstaltung/GLI2U


Almut-Barbara Renger
Events Uncategorized

Cultural Transformations of Buddhism Today

Freie Universität Workshop:

“Cultural Transformations of Buddhism Today: Dynamics and Entanglements”

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to draw your attention to an upcoming workshop entitled “Cultural Transformations of Buddhism Today: Dynamics and Entanglements.” Co-organized by the Freie Universität Berlin and Peking University, the workshop will take place from December 10 to 12, 2015. An international cohort of scholars will meet to discuss diverse topics concerning the many contemporary reincarnations of Buddhism in Asia and beyond.

Of particular interest for our Holylit blog is the talk by Lin Jian from Peking University entitled “Monks in Pop Fictions: Their Interactions with the Mundane World.” In this talk Lin Jian will discuss


Asceticism and Literature

Dear colleagues and friends,

Along with my season’s greetings and wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year, I would like to draw your attention to two talks on asceticism and literature at the SFB 980 “Episteme in Motion” in Berlin.

Nora K. Schmid (Freie Universität Berlin):

Überlegungen zum Transfer spätantiken Übungswissens in die ‚arabische asketische Dichtung‘ (zuhdiyya)

Falk Quenstedt (Freie Universität Berlin):

Übung statt Gesetz? Vorstellungen von implizitem Körperwissen und dessen Übertragbarkeit als Grundlage einer idealen Gesellschaft. Das asketische Volk der ‚nackten Weisen‘ in Johann Hartliebs ‚Alexander‘ (um 1450)

Time: 6-8 pm, Wednesday,
December 17, 2014
Location: “Sitzungsraum” of the SFB 980 “Episteme in Bewegung. Wissenstransfer von der Alten Welt bis in die Frühe Neuzeit,” Schwendenerstraße 8, 14195 Berlin.

The SFB 980––a Collaborative Research Centre funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)––is based at the Freie Universität in Berlin. The two talks are given during a study day (click here) within the context of a series of events organized by the SFB’s research project about “Asceticism in Motion” (C02, click here). The events seek to bring together scholars and students who investigate the transfer of ascetic knowledge in different religious and philosophical contexts from a synchronic and diachronic perspective. The papers given address conceptual, literary, social and institutional aspects in this field of knowledge and practice.

Best wishes, on behalf of speakers and the organizing team

Almut Renger


Myths Orally Transmitted in Contemporary China


Myths Orally Transmitted in Contemporary China

Based on long-term fieldwork in China, Professor Lihui Yang will explore myths that continue to be orally transmitted in China today, with especial focus on the mythtellers, their understanding about the meaning and function of myths in their lives, as well as the multipe contexts and means for transmitting myths. Mythtelling performances by tour guides and the impact of electronic media will also be discussed in the talk.

Lihui Yang

Date: 18 July 2014
Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Technische Universitaet Berlin, Straße des 17.Juni 135, EB 107  

Last Lecture in Lecture Series This Summer

The last lecture in our lecture series on religion & literature at Freie Universität Berlin is with Ulrike Brunotte on Wednesday July 9 at 6pm, Rost- und Silberlaube. Professor Brunotte will give a talk on gender and diversity issues in the field of religion and literature using the example of Salome, the daughter of Herod II and Herodias. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Please come and join our speaker from Maastricht University for dinner afterwards.

Ulrike Brunotte

Date: 9 July 2014
Time: 6 pm
Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, Rost- und Silberlaube, room, K25/11


Scripture and Writing in Literature and Religion


Our next talk will be on 25th June when our friend and colleague Linda Simonis will lecture on scripture and writing in religion and literature. As all lectures in our series this talk is free and open to allno ticket required.

The Self-Referencing of Scripture in Literature: ‘Sacred Writings’

Linda Simonis

Date: 25 June 2014
Time: 6 pm
Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, Rost- und Silberlaube, room, K25/11


The Imaginary of Present-Day Scandinavian Subculture

Stefanie von Schnurbein (Berlin)
11 June 2014

Art-as-Religion in Nordic Culture: Germanic Neopaganism in Popular Music and Literature

In her Wednesday lecture, Stefanie von Schnurbein, professor of modern Scandinavian literatures at the Humboldt University in Berlin, offered us a disturbing peek into the abyss of the imaginary of present-day Scandinavian subculture. Focusing on popular or avant-garde literary and musical genres such as fantasy literature, Viking Metal, Neofolk, and Black Metal, Professor von Schnurbein revealed the controversial ideological baggage present in the texts and art forms propagated by Scandinavian Neo-Pagans. Its ideological and artistic roots were traced back to the distorted fabrications of northern pagan culture with its exalted and threatening notes of nationalism and anti-modernity, as it was concocted in post-Enlightenment Europe by figures such as Friedrich Gottlieb Kloppstock, Johann Gottfried Herder, Richard Wagner, Julius Langbehn of the Bayreuth Circle, and others. The controversial role of J. R. R. Tolkien was also thematized.


Passion Play in the 19th Century

Save the date: Our next talk is on Wednesday 18th June when Andrea Polaschegg will give us a lecture on passion play in the 19th century.

The Impact of the Passion Play in the 19th Century: Politics, History, Trancendence

Andrea Polaschegg

Date: 18 June 2014
Time: 6 pm
Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, Rost- und Silberlaube, room K25/11


Germanic Neopaganism in Music and Literature

We are excited to have our good friend Professor von Schnurbein as our next speaker in the lecture series Religion and Literature. She will give us an illustrated talk on Germanic neopaganism in music and literature.

Art-as-Religion in Nordic Culture: Germanic Neopaganism in Popular Music and Literature

Stefanie von Schnurbein

Date: 11 June 2014
Time: 6 pm
Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, Rost- und Silberlaube, room K25/11


Literature and Religion in Medieval Times

Hans Jürgen Scheuer (Berlin)
Julia Zernack (Frankfurt a.M.)
21 May 2014

Religious Figure of Thought and Literary Hyperbole. The Profane as a Form of the Sacred in Medieval Carnival Plays (Hans Jürgen Scheuer)


Saga of the GodsMyths, Poetry, Literature? Thoughts on the Edda (Julia Zernack)

As part of the lecture series Religion and LiteratureConvergences and Divergences, Hans Jürgen Scheuer and Julia Zernack contributed in a tandem lecture.

Mr. Scheuer gave a lecture on the two carnival plays “septem mulieres”, which is the oldest surviving play, and “Fastnachtsspiel vom Dreck” (carnival play aboutor fromthe dirt). The former play deals with a man courted by seven women. The more and more radical courtship culminates in the election of the seventh woman who portrayed herself as a harlot earlier. Interestingly enough , one can see a reinterpretation of the prophetic word of Isaiah about the daughters of Zion which transfers the man’s choice beyond mere male fantasy towards the idea of a mystical bridal choice. The preference of the humble woman against the highborn can be seen as an allegory of salvation. In the latter play, written in 1494, a peasant is relieving himself onto a street.