The Columbia University Seminar on Religion and Writing

Our meetings are open, but a RSVP is required.  Columbia University’s COVID protocols apply to the in-person meetings:  If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to write to me (dar2111 [at]

For Spring 2024, we have scheduled two hybrid events, which will be accessible to both ZOOM and in-person participants.  The in-person participants will convene in the Faculty House on Columbia’s Morningside campus (64 Morningside Drive, New York, NY 10027; for directions, please click here; for accommodation of access, please see below).

Schedule 2023/2024

October 19, 2023 – June McDaniel (College of Charleston): Writing on Ecstasy in the Academy: Can It Be Done? Should It Be Done?

November 8, 2023 – Andrew Dunning (University of Oxford): Deploying Writing and Craft in the Twelfth-Century Cult of St Frideswide

Thursday, March 28, 2024, 5 pm (NYC, hybrid) – Dana W. Fishkin (Touro College): Immanuel of Rome: A Jewish Dante?

The late medieval Jewish poet, Immanuel of Rome (14th century), has been called “A Jewish Dante” in both academic and popular writings.  This talk will explore Immanuel’s Hebrew celestial tour, Mahberet Ha-Tofet V’Ha Eden, within its intellectual and cultural contexts to suggest a new way of understanding the relationship between Dante’s Divine Comedy and Immanuel’s Jewish netherworldly journey tale.  Using Immanuel’s unpublished biblical commentaries, the talk seeks to address the author’s hybrid identity as it emerges from Immanuel’s literature.  Finally, the talk will explore the reception history of Immanuel’s poem to illuminate its connection to Dante.

Thursday, April 18, 2024, 5 pm (NYC, hybrid) – Ali Karjoo-Ravary (Columbia University): The King’s Song: Poet Kings in the Islamic East

This talk looks at the political importance of poetic production by kings in the Islamic east in the late medieval period by considering what kings aimed to accomplish through the production of their own divans.  Focusing on the Turkic poetry of Burhan al-Din of Sivas (d. 1398), a Sufi and qadi who ruled eastern Anatolia for nearly 18 years, it contextualizes his divan in the convergence of Sufism and political power that marked the post-Mongol Islamic east.  This talk will end by looking at how the divans of other kings, chief among them Isma’il I (d. 1524) of the Safavids, responded to and abrogated the poetic choices of Burhan al-Din.

Speakers for 2024/205

Verena Böll (Independent Scholar, Dresden)
David Hollenberg (University of Oregon)
Marcus Mordecai Schwartz (JTSA)

Columbia University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities.  University Seminar participants with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations may contact the Office of Disability Services at 212.854.2388 or [email protected].  Disability accommodations, including sign-language interpreters, are available on request.  Requests for accommodations must be made two weeks in advance.

The official page of the Columbia University Seminar 751 is available at:  For more information about the seminar’s history, please see:  The abstracts of all talks since January 2012 are archived at:

Dagmar A. Riedel, chair
Columbia University
dar2111 [at]

Heidi Hansen, rapporteur
Columbia University
Department of History
heh2135 [at]

First published, 1 February 2012
Last updated, 7 May 2024