Mouvance and the Storyteller’s Art

On Feb. 18th I gave a paper (digital ofc) at a meeting of the fantastic Early Text Cultures reading group based at Oxford. Very excited and honored to be a part of the series “Writing Orality”; I highly recommend you check them out on Twitter and see what they have lined up, sign up to their email list, and think about participating! It is built for graduate students and early career scholars to share their work in an interdisciplinary setting. The feedback and questions I got were incredibly helpful. It is really startling the kinds of synchronisms between text cultures that become apparent in an interdisciplinary setting. This was driven home to me in working with my co-presenter (don’t think she has any social media, so I’ll wait to name her and say anything more specific!) who works on Japanese text culture. Anyway, if the mere phrase “early text cultures” makes you think, “That’s what I do!,” like it did for me, you know what to do!

As is usual nowadays, I drew from my work on the Demotic novella The Battle for the Prebend of Amun. The problem: how to account for the variation in the several published manuscripts of the novellas? I decided to apply the term mouvance, borrowed from romance literary studies, and suggest that there was more going on than copying, and even memory variants (the latter of which there is really strong evidence for in these manuscripts, by the way). I won’t go into the whole argument here, since it is still in process and finding expression in a dissertation chapter, but the gist is that I think manuscripts of literary works like this novella witness the creative work of storytellers, not improvising in new tellings of oral literature, but dealing with, interpreting even, written literature. As I put it in the paper:

As Jacqueline Jay notes (in her 2016 book Orality and Literacy in the Demotic Tales), written works of literature would have been composed with an oral realization, a performance, in mind: they are a kind of libretto. Building on this crucial insight, I will suggest that the mouvance seen among copies of The Battle for the Prebend of Amun witnesses to the life of an authored text, written to be delivered orally, its living textualization. I want to push the idea of oral residue further and attempt to locate a context for orality that goes beyond just the general features associated with performance and transmission in an oral context: to try and discover the orality inherent to the transmission of story, not just text. What I envision is not just scribes who are subject to the vicissitudes of memory, nor bard-like performers who can’t help but imbue a text with residual orality, rather, I envision storytellers engaged in reflection on the meaning of the story itself, in specific terms like plot and, especially, character. The key is to discover deliberate interventions into the story that make sense in the oral performance of a written text.

In discussion, my colleague and I realized—working with very different genres of literature I should add!—that we were articulating strategies to deal with a fundamental incompatibility of oral and written language, in order for the texts they were producing to realize their purpose in a written setting despite their connections to orality. As Hamlet says, “Suit the word to the action, the action to the word”! The incompatibility I tried to recover has to do with the challenge of embodying the words of characters as a dramatic reader, when you are working with a libretto:

Something that we initially recognized as an almost paradoxical willingness to sacrifice the original wording of an authored text, turned out to be a deliberate strategy to counteract the entropy of a written text inscribed as a libretto for concrete, living performance: in other words, a strategy to mitigate the inherent problem of writing orality. We all know very well the warning of Plato about the orphaned nature of written texts. The key to the scenario with the Battle for the Prebend of Amun is the inherent performative nature of Demotic novellas, requiring the storyteller to embody human figures in a coherent way with respect to their characterization and their embeddedness in the plot. At stake, in written versions of these stories, is the risk a storyteller necessarily takes of falling short of this performed embodiment by using the words of another. But by producing reworked, reauthored versions of The Battle for the Prebend of Amun, storytellers, and the scribes who recorded their versions for posterity, strategized a way to preserve a work of storytelling and allow it to be continually embodied and performed as such.

If you want to take a look at my handout, which gets into some more detail about the Prebend novella and tries to give examples of the mouvance in the manuscripts, you can take a look here.

This is a scene from the “Triumph of Horus” drama depicted on the walls of the temple of Edfu. It depicts a scene where a “cake” in the shape of a hippo (representing the vanquished Seth) is cut up, which, as dramatized, involves a lector priest (middle). In the text of the drama, the lector priest’s part is the same as the drama’s narrator. And as the editor of the drama, H.W. Fairman, notes, the lector priest is not only dressed as such (notice the lion skin), but also has the appearance of Imhotep, one of the most revered Egyptian sages. So, I’d like to think that the Egyptian storyteller/narrator thought highly of themselves! [image source]

Online talk: Literature in Ancient Egyptian Society (Oriental Institute)

You can watch a public talk I recorded for the Oriental Institute called “Literature in Ancient Egyptian Society.” This one kicks off a new online lecture series for the OI about ancient Middle Eastern literature. There will be a followup in a few weeks, so stay tuned!

Ostracon with the first part of Amenemope from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/558553)

I try to do two things in this 35 min. talk: introduce Ancient Egyptian literature by looking closely at one specific work, the Teaching of Amenemope, and by prefacing a look at it with some general reflections on what we mean by “literature” and what it means to look for literature in an ancient society.

I wrote up a brief twitter thread with some links for more info on Amenemope.

Here’s what I say in the beginning of the talk:

  1. “Literature” often really means “great literature.” We treat Shakespeare, Tolstoy as if there is something inherent in them that does not necessarily need full historical context: they can be just read, with profit, because they expressing profound ideas about what it means to be human. Literature as “great literature” is a collection that is decided on by a culture, explicitly or not; a group of works that is ascribed a certain value that goes beyond genre, what we would call a “canon.”
  2. Another aspect to the word “literature” is the one that, I think, underlies academically- or historically-minded perspectives on the ancient world. Similar to the French phrase “belles lettres,” it refers to any kind of verbal art where there is, to varying degrees, a distinct pleasurable or aesthetic interest in the words themselves, in their communicative aspect and effect. Looking at ancient literature through this lens means casting our net more widely and noticing texts with literary characteristics that go beyond the first, more limited category of “great literature,” such as religious or magical texts and monumental inscriptions. Speaking in particular about ancient Middle Eastern literature, we notice that many non-mundane types of writing feature a careful use of patterned language which we call parallelism, where two or more sentences or utterances—what we might call poetic lines—share similar ideas or phraseology, repeating them with some variation, or drawing up an explicit contrast. Parallelism seems to feature prominently in languages that do not employ meter like we are used to in English poetry, or like we have in Classical Greek and Latin.
  3. For us, literature is closely associated with schooling and education, especially the “great literature” aspect discussed earlier. It won’t be surprising to hear that literature was important for Ancient Egyptian education. There are numerous parallels as well as intriguing differences. Learning how to read and write, for example, comes at the beginning of our education. For the Ancient Egyptians, this would have been true too, but true mastery of the difficult hieroglyphic script, in all its forms, would have taken longer, with full mastery probably limited to a select few. Today, we associate memorizing and performing poems, like Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology or Robert Frost, as a separate endeavor from learning how to read and write, something we might do in Middle or High School to learn about how to read closely, to think about perspective and rhetoric. For the Egyptians, not only learning and even memorizing works of literature, but copying them out too, either by memory or by dictation, was a constant feature of education. This had a practical goal, not only practicing how to write, but learning by heart important phrases and sentence types, or specialized vocabulary. Copying and memorizing literature was also a kind of inculturation, a topic we will address in more detail later.
  4. A fourth use of the word “literature” broaches a crucial topic: we often use the word to mean just a bunch of reading material, like brochures, or to refer to all of the writing associated with a topic: a thesis or research paper will have a “literature review.” This reminds us that, for us today, literature is a matter of writing, of written language. This is not true for all literature, however. A famous example is the folktale: when a collector writes them down, they are transcribing something that, in its natural element, is performed out loud through improvisation, using a wide-ranging technique based on traditional phraseology and approaches to building scenes and characters around well-known storylines. It might be a bit nonsensical to call oral storytelling “literature,” since that word literally evokes the concept of the letter of writing.

I am focusing pretty much exclusively on the written evidence of Egyptian literature, on a work that was composed for the first time as literature in writing that could be read from a book, but it is important to remember that oral literature, like the folktale, was an important part of all ancient societies, Ancient Egypt included, and a rich line of inquiry is the interaction between oral and written literature, and the nature of Egyptian folklore. It is also important not to fall into the trap of thinking that oral equals “primitive,” and written equals “advanced” or “civilized.” Few today would use these terms outright, but something of this distinction of value can even be implied unknowingly when we think about oral literature as existing before writing was invented or became widespread…that oral literature is more simple, while written literature is more complex; or that oral literature belonged mostly to lower classes of society, while only the upper crust composed and enjoyed literature in writing. This is simply not true. Every work of written literature from the ancient world is the proverbial tip of the iceberg of an entire world of verbal art, artistry, and artists that included the art of writing in its orbit.

My working system…currently

Had a computer disaster last week. No data lost, but not sure if I am going to be working on my Windows laptop any more (passed down from my mom, not exactly a new piece of tech). So, I’ve set up my old desktop PC again (purchased in 2012 but not used much at all in the last five years or so) and installed Fedora LXDE. Back in the day, I used Linux almost exclusively (I don’t tinker with cars but with computers, and I’m also not very good at it), so it is fun—albeit a bit distracting unfortunately!—to get back into it. I’m back in business now, and part of the major effort to get running again was not only to transfer all my files and get software running, but to recreate my working system for dissertation writing and academic work in general. Thought I would describe it here (and stop narrating the process of getting it running: just talk about what it is). What this is, is an overview of a working system, as well as a lesson in trying to be focused on getting something up and running so you don’t loose too much momentum:

For writing. LibreOffice. I used to use Word. Years ago, I use to write in LaTeX (usually using Lyx), but I was never able to get bibliography stuff integrated too well (see below). Hebrew looks beautiful, but there is not a lot of support of hieroglyphics, and newever versions of LaTeX (esp. XeTeX) include much better Unicode support compared to when I first used it, which means it will work great for what I do, but I need the time to learn it. I’ve decided that this will be a post-PhD endeavor. I believe I had my entire (first) MA thesis (written 2009-2011) written in LaTeX/Lyx, but at the last minute translated it into OpenOffice. It was on Gen 1-3, written for a theology program where I took a major interest in Hebrew Bible towards the end. I wrote about how the two creation stories use ארץ/אדמה differently, and I came up with the idea that, while Gen 1:1-2:4a views humanity’s relationship to the earth as ארץ from a species-wide, historical perspective (as master of the earth), Gen 2:4b-3 views it from within the limit of a human lifetime (אדם/אדמה). Back then, I presumed historical criticism and also thought “final form reading” was the ultimate goal: I wanted to understand Genesis (well, Gen 1-3…I wish I would have continued to ch 4!) as a work of literature. Knowing what I know now, etc. etc. Anyway, I wrote that in Lyx/OpenOffice. Now, I’m trying to get my dissertation files working on LibreOffice (OpenOffice is dead). I also have two children and have moved about 12 times since I wrote about Genesis.

How do I write? It’s hard. Usually I have a doc open that contains notes and “scraps” that get moved into the main document, the “DISSERTATION” file. There is a lot of back and forth. Things I write in the main doc (on the right part of my screen) usually end up in the scrap pile (left part) and re-emerge, transformed, onto the other side at a later point. I’m trying to streamline this. In addition to the on-screen writing, I work with lots of paper notes, sticky notes, pieces of paper, etc. Bar napkins. Tried to find a way to write notes on the computer, but I usually do that by hand.

For bibliography. In the previous era (i.e. before last Wednesday), I had a version of Endnote I bought through the student software deal at U of C, and had it integrated to Word. It was great. I tried to replicate that with Mendeley, then with JabRef through LibreOffice, but it isn’t working. So, I’m back to doing it all manually, which is how I’ve almost always done it. You have to fix most of the metadata you download from library sites or JSTOR anyway. So, currently I have a “BIBLIOGRAPHY_NEW.odt” to be kept distinct from “BIBLIOGRAPHY.docx,” which I was using as my master diss. bibliography until the Endnote era (about two months ago). I created BIBLIOGRAPHY_NEW by outputting my Endnote bib into a plain text bibliography doc in Chicago style (using a virtually emulated Windows machine on a Dell laptop that I was lent when teaching at UNCA…still holding on to it, which wouldn’t run Windows because I needed to be in the UNCA network, so I had to dual boot it with Linux…to get Endnote to run, on a Windows emulation, to recover my bibliography…I’ve lost track of this sentence and am just going to move on).

So now: I cite using author date (or else the footnotes will always be 2/3rds the size of the page), and write the entry in the BIBLIOGRAPHY_NEW. I like doing it this way. I get familiar with the names, and I get better at using my German keyboard layout for typing things like Altägyptische.

In search for: a way to create reading lists as well as mini bibliographies for further use. I started using Endnote for this, but I need something else, and I didn’t really like that.

For notes. I have used a program called KeepNote, which is a stripped down version of something like Evernote, since 2013 or so, but I’ve just fallen out of the habit of taking notes on the computer. I need a break from it. So, I use notebooks, margins, and sticky notes.

For outlines. I have been experimenting with mind mapping software, where you literally plug your skull into your USB 3 port and it outputs your thoughts in rough plaintext, and all you have to do it shape it up into your favorite format and/or genre convention. Additionally, I’ve been using so-called “mind mapping” software to outline dissertation chapters and big ideas, going back and forth between FreeMind and XMind. I really like this, and I think it will be a big part of my working system. Since I am trying to finish a chapter, and not doing much big picture stuff, I’m mostly just working in the L-R document setup described above.

PDFs. I had to stop subscribing to Adobe. It was great having the full version of Acrobat (I was OCRing everything!), but it just got too expensive. Linux doesn’t have any good PDF viewers, and I’ve tried many. I’m not big on highlighting and commenting PDFs (though that should probably change). I’m using something called qpdfview, and it seems to work just fine.

The real problem is what to do with my ca. 100 GBs of PDFs. Every now and then I try to organize them manually (at least ones that I’ve downloaded or scanned recently). For the most part they are preserved in legacy folders from the people I got them from (let me know if you need PDFs…I have lots). Linux has a pretty quick ability to search folders, so that’s what I do: just search for the name. For current project/topics/chapters, I have desktop folders with relevant PDFs.

My actual desk. Revamping my PC setup, and waiting for 100’s of GBs of files to transfer, gave me time to revamp my actual desk. Sharing some pictures of them as is. Trying to keep stacks of books of the work surface and use tables (seen at R) for books I’m using a lot for short periods, and ref. works to left of desk that are used constantly.

I need to get back to work! Before I go, what is happening?

  1. Hopefully will finish my chapter on the Demotic novella I’ve been working on since basically last January, by the end of the month.
  2. Looking for adjunct jobs for next year I guess? Not sure if I’ll be able to teach online for UNC Asheville.
  3. Recording a talk for the Oriental Institute on epics in the ancient Middle East (more info TBA)
  4. Participating in the Early Text Cultures reading group/project at Oxford, presenting some of my work on evidence of oral transmission (or really, aspects of the transmission) of the novella mentioned in #1

Thanks for reading. -JC

Defining genres: an article of faith (notes from my ASOR 2020 paper)

Column 10 of the Demotic novella scholars designate as The Battle for the Prebend [or Benefice] of Amun, from the 2nd century BCE. This novella was published in 1910 but has not been worked on significantly since, aside from the publication of more fragments of the scroll in the 1990’s and a few important, but isolated and small-scale studies.

My paper “Between the Cosmopolitan and the Vernacular: Private Literature in the Post-Iron Age Southeastern Mediterranean” will be live on the ASOR 2020 virtual conference shortly. Here’s the abstract (it ended up being reasonably close to the finished product!). It is part of the session “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Collapse, Resilience, and Resistance in the Ancient Near East.” I was very excited to have my paper accepted to this since I believe the “post-collapse,” post-Iron Age context in which the Egyptian and Judean novellas were written and read was not just a coincidence, but determined their literary form and their purpose.

This paper cuts to the heart of an important part of my dissertation’s raison d’etre. Even before developing my topic, I wanted to study what the social background of a genre of narrative literature was. Too often, I think, we assume that, since narrative and storytelling is universal (witness Barthes’s famous quote), it is too difficult (for ancient literature at least!) to understand it in its full, original context, and to ask the question, Why was this written? Too often, I think, when answering this question, we jump too quickly between immanent issues (themes, tone, “manifest content”) and global explanations based on them. I see this happening in the popular approach to the literature I am studying, under the name of “diaspora novella.” So: we have a set of stories that feature a Judean/Jew who is “successful” (define that!) in a foreign court? These must have been written to encourage Judeans/Jews living in the diaspora! Maybe. It is easy, then, once this jump has been made and an overarching purpose for works of literature is formulated, to define a genre based on this understanding (i.e., “diaspora novella”). This doesn’t seem to me to be a good ground for such a definition.

My working approach in the dissertation…my coping device for wrestling the seemingly intractable problem of recovering the original setting of narrative literature from antiquity…is to divide and conquer and approach the problem of defining a genre of narrative literature from two angles:

  1. The literary approach. What signs are there immanent in the text itself for the original context of the work? How it was performed or read? (length matters; voicing; level of story complexity; “critical mass” of plots, characters, etc. [an idea from Gunkel]) What kinds of situations would be appropriate for reading or hearing it? There are many ways of apprehending these kinds of signs…of drawing out features and interpreting them. One way is narratology. Another is to be attuned to specific types of discourse that are borrowed in or that mimic defined discourse types from other situations (the possibility, and the constraints of this is itself significant for defining a genre!). Ideally, all of this can be put together to reconstruct an audience (profession; competence; interest) and, thus, an author’s strategies in making the text “work.” Besides providing material for reconstructing the context, the storytelling differentia specifica of novellas support the definition of the genre because they are the most recognizable features as storytelling of these works, that is, they give us a sure basis for identification based on the way that the audience would have recognized tokens. A discussion for another post is: how can I recognize novellas before I can define what the genre is?
  2. The historical approach. If the literary approach aims to define the genre of the novella and reconstruct its context based on clues in the text itself, this approach does so from the outside, considering the placement of the novella—as far as the evidence allows—in the literary cultures in which it was embedded. What other kinds of texts were being read and produced at the same time? What did the scribal/scholarly/literary circles in which novellas were read look like? For example, I’ve begun to notice the similarities between novellas (which I associate, at least at this point, with entertainment and recreation) and esoteric literature. How could these two types (this is bigger than genre) of literature coexist? Imagine one person or group possessed copies of a novella as a well as an apocalypse. When would they have read them? Sociolinguistic considerations are also very relevant here (a problem I am having is that, unlike Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek, there is not any significant work done on the sociolinguistics of Demotic). In particular, I have found the approach of Sheldon Pollock to cosmopolitan vs. vernacular literature (which I treat in the ASOR paper) incredibly helpful.

The rationale for this twofold approach as helpful, workable, even trustworthy, is an article of faith: written storytelling literature is not something that has to happen or that springs naturally from communities in the way that oral storytelling does.

In my paper, I talk about the background of the Demotic Egyptian novella, and describe what I am calling its “condition for the possibility.” I wanted to share two extracts here. First, a very brief and, due to constraints of time, un-evidenced definition of the novella (I am talking about the Egyptian novella, but this is relevant for the Judean as well):

Novellas are completely self-contained as works of storytelling and are preserved as such. They contain complex plots and richly characterized figures, and feature layered intertextuality and engagement with traditional textual culture, much of which stems from before the collapse of systems of native rule. In fact, the novellas are a type of historical fiction, nearly all set at some time in the pre-collapse era. In a playful use of exegetical and interpretive forms of speech drawn from the professional spheres of its audience, magico-religious formulae, and even economic terms and concepts used in the Ptolemaic notary, Egyptian novellas do not provide models for professionalization but, often inflected as parody, even satire, presume it. While the general assumption that Egyptian priests and scholars were the authors and audience of Demotic literature fits the internal evidence of the novellas to a tee, a playful stance with regard to cultural themes, themes taken seriously in contemporary genres which are more closely associated with professional priestly and scholarly work, suggests that the novellas were experienced in the context of entertainment and recreation, adjunct and supplemental to what we might call the priestly audience’s “real work.” The mere existence of a popular, widespread genre of pure storytelling in written form with no obvious genre-related purpose beyond the enjoyment of the story itself, of such an erudite nature moreover, indicates, to me, in the terminology of the classicist William Johnson, a distinct “sociocultural system” or “culture of reading” related to, but not identical with, professional spheres of textual production.

Finally, from the end of my paper, I try and put my finger on what changes with written storytelling literature when it is written within a group that identifies itself in differentiation from a cosmopolitan sphere. This is one paragraph flying at about 30,000 feet above the ground from something that needs to be about 50 pages long, so beware!

[T]he possible contexts in which a literary culture can exist change substantially when coexisting with a cosmopolitan society. In the Bronze and Iron Ages, there are examples of literary circles that were adjunct to professional textual cultures, such as at Ugarit and, likely, in Israel. There are also examples from Egypt. Narrative literature in Middle and New Kingdom Egypt may have been enjoyed in similar private, non-professional contexts, but in that case, especially in the New Kingdom, Egyptian literary circles were themselves part of something resembling a cosmopolis: there was no experience of difference at the root. This is not the case with the Demotic novella. Nevertheless, even though the novella was an experience of difference, from all appearances it was not an act of resistance per se, an important fact given the condition for the possibility of this kind of literature was the Ptolemaic state’s affirmation of, and even active hand in, the creation of various overlapping professional circles of Egyptian priest-scholars and -scribes. It is in this context that Egyptian authors wrote novellas that did not encode criticisms or endorsements of the Ptolemaic regime, or hope for a future return of indigenous rule, as some other contemporary kinds of literature did. To be sure, wherever the novella is found, there are parallel developments of esoteric literature, which might be part of the same phenomenon of private literature. The inward-looking, yet non-tendentious perspective of the novella is all the more significant given the rise of universalism throughout the wider Mediterranean and Middle Eastern world, starting already in the Neo-Assyrian period, but becoming fully developed in the Achaemenian and hitting its stride in the Hellenistic, a phenomenon characterized by a high degree of integration of population groups due to increased worldwide movement, including government and trade. This is the horizon in which the Egyptian, as well as the Judean novella developed after the Iron Age.  


September 2020 Update

What has been going on with me in the last year or so, and what’s coming up:

  • Still writing my dissertation. Progress is slow, but life is hard and busy. The dissertation journals fell by the wayside (predictably) early in the process, but I am interested in getting them going again. One reason for this is that I have been using Twitter more to share interesting things I am working on, so if you haven’t lately, check it out. Although beware, I also post dumb stuff there too.
  • Adjuncting at UNC Asheville. I am teaching a class called “The Ancient World” in the Humanities Program. Fortunately I was able to teach fully online this semester. I love teaching this class and love my students. One of the exciting things we are doing this semester is building a class wiki at Wikiversity. Once it is more fleshed out, I’ll share a link.
  • Also at UNC Asheville, I have contributed introductions to the Egyptian Teaching of Amenemope and the Chester Beatty love songs. They are part of a new version of the course reader which is very exciting. Once those are published I’ll share them here.
  • Teaching for the Oriental Institute:
    • Currently giving a 6-week course on Jewish Scripts Throughout History
    • In May-June, gave a 6-week course on Megiddo
  • I’ve given three online lectures for the Oriental Institute this summer. The most recent, “Who Are The Samaritans?” has not been made available on YouTube (there were technical issues), but you can watch the other two. They are:
  • I was set to give my paper “The Interface of Public and Private in Demotic Literature: A Case Study from P. Spiegelberg” to the annual meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt in Toronto last May, but the conference was cancelled and I was not able to get it together enough to present it in the alternate online venue….alas.
  • I read a paper “Genre Matters: Jonah as Novella” at the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion annual conference in Athens, GA in February…just two weeks before everything shut down. It was fun driving to Athens and checking out U of Georgia. They also have a Raising Cane’s there.
  • I’m giving several papers this Fall at the online versions of two conferences:
    • For ASOR 2020, for the panel “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Collapse, Resilience, and Resistance in the Ancient Near East,” I’m giving a paper entitled “Between the Cosmopolitan and the Vernacular: Private Literature in the Post-Iron Age Southeastern Mediterranean.” Here’s the abstract.
    • For SBL 2020, I’m giving two papers:
      • For the Egyptology and Ancient Israel open session, I’m giving a paper entitled “When Storytelling Becomes Canonical: Changing Fortunes of the Novella in Hellenistic and Roman Judea and Egypt.” Here’s the abstract.
      • For the joint session of Egyptology and Ancient Israel and Prophetic Texts and their Ancient Contexts, I’m giving an invited paper entitled “Finding God in Nineveh: A Case Study in Judean and Egyptian Prophetic Imagination.” Here’s the abstract. These papers are going to be published in a volume, so keep an eye out for the written/publishable version of the paper here.
    • Clearly I need to break the habit of entitling conference papers “[Catchy phrase]: [More detailed description]”!
  • I never shared the publication of a book review I wrote on Claudia Suhr’s Die altägyptische Ich-Erzählung (2016) for the Review of Biblical Literature. You can find it here. Look out for another review in RBL from me next year on the edited volume Narrative: Geschichte-Mythos-Repäsentation (2019).

On a personal note. We are now living with family on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We left our previous residence outside of Asheville, NC when the pandemic hit, where we had been living since August 2018, and where I was trying to finish my dissertation while adjuncting at UNC Asheville. Life has changed a lot for us, but me, my partner, and our two girls are grateful to be able to spend so much time together. I have a nice place to work, and am able to support us by teaching online and doing other work. I’m trying to finish writing so I can apply for jobs. Who knows what the future holds for us. Here’s a picture I took from our front porch:

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