Seminars and Sessions

Program Planning

The CSBS Program Coordinator develops the general program based on thematic or topical clusters of papers. General program sessions are organized by shared focus on biblical books, bodies of literature, time periods, language, or approach.

CSBS also welcomes members to organize sessions in a more coordinated manner in the form of either seminars or special sessions. These are distinguished mainly in terms of the degree of organization, commitment by participants, and period of time involved.

Organizers should consider a blend of established and emerging scholars as well as consider gender balance when planning. Qualified non-members may participate without having to pay for a CSBS membership, but Congress registration fees are required for all presenters.

When more seminars or sessions are proposed than can be accommodated in a given year, the Executive will prioritize those that enable broad member participation as well as have the greatest potential for scholarly impact.

Proposals and/or renewals are approved by the CSBS Executive at their Spring meeting. Proposals renewals must be submitted to the Programme Coordinator no later than April 30. See descriptions below for proposal requirements.


A seminar consists of papers on a specific topic discussed over the course of one or more mornings or afternoons at a series of Annual Meetings. The emphasis is on discussion rather than reading papers. To that end, papers are distributed in advance and summarized at the Annual Meeting. The CSBS supports up to two seminars per year. This is in addition to any seminars jointly sponsored by our religious studies sister societies. Seminars have a 3-year mandate (renewable).

Written proposals and/or renewals must have well-defined goals, including a clear focus and explicit publication plans, and demonstrate the commitment of at least ten CSBS members to ongoing participation. If approved, new and/or renewed seminars will begin at the Annual Meeting the year following approval.

Special Sessions

Special sessions focuses on a specific topic over the course of a morning or afternoon. With the approval of the Executive, an individual member may solicit papers directly from other members and then select and organize the sequence of papers. Proposals may be for one to three years. Special sessions may circulate papers in advance or have publication plans, but these are not requirements as for seminars.

Members interested in organizing a special session should contact the Programme Coordinator to determine fit within the schedule of the year(s) in which the session will run. Formal proposals or renewals must be made in writing and include the names of confirmed participants and preliminary titles of papers. Upon approval, the session organizer is responsible for soliciting papers, organizing their sequence, and submitting final titles and abstracts to the Programme Coordinator. The Executive reserves the right to limit the number of special sessions in any given year.


Special Seminar: Emotion and Affect in Mediterranean Antiquity

What changes when we account for affect and emotion in the writing of history and the reading of ancient literature? What social and cultural phenomena are shaped and thrown into new configurations by that unpredictable constant: feeling? A number of recent studies have established affect and/or emotion as a crucial and rich concept for the study of ancient literature and social worlds. The aim of this seminar is to extend and deepen this work in a three-year conversation among interested members of the CSBS.

Each year will include a panel of pre-circulated papers on the topics described below as well as an open session on any aspect of the affect and emotion in antiquity. The purpose of the seminar throughout the three years includes plans for an edited volume of essays in the areas defined here.

2022 – Putting the “Theory” in Affect
Sessions this year will focus on theory – whether critical affect theory (Massumi, Deleuze, Ahmed, Berlant, Sedgwick), evolutionary theory (e.g. Panskeep, de Waal), or some other explicit explanatory approach. Each paper will discuss how the approach might assist identifying change, consolidation, or interruption of social or personal dynamics through feeling; papers might also try to capture one dimension of how theorizing affect has itself changed over the last 10-15 years, especially with regard to the study of ancient literature and social phenomena, or how the advent of affect/emotion has (or hasn’t) changed the study of antiquity over this time.

2023 – Historicizing Emotions
Even those who argue for a strong, cross-culturally stable foundation for emotion recognize cultural contingency and variation in how emotions are expressed and described. For this year we invite papers that explore historical approaches to the role of specific emotions or affect clusters as culturally distinctive artifacts. This could include philology and the translation of vocabularies of feeling (Konstan), the physiological or culturally conditioned expressions of emotion, or the cultivation of a distinct affective practice within a particular social group (Scheer).

2024 – Efficacies of Feeling
In the last year of the seminar, we invite papers that explore passages or historical occasions in which feeling is marshalled in particular ways for specific purposes. The focal distinction from previous years is that this year, the ancient source or data should guide the approach, rather than using it as an illustrative case study for a theory or method. Special interests: a) fuzzy boundaries (e.g. negatively valanced affect that brings pleasure) b) moments when diffuse feelings are channeled into culturally established emotions, and c) strong cases in which the text, practice, or social phenomena cannot be well understood without attention to emotion. In each case, presenters should still be clear about which theory or method underwrites their reading.

If you have questions about the seminar or want to be added to its mailing list, please contact Maia Kotrosits ( and/or Colleen Shantz (