My esteemed colleague @DrMJCWarren has published a fascinating book on a #genre called "hierophagy". Here, for your enjoyment and (hopefully) enlightenment is a thread on the book and its use of genre. It is written from an interdisciplinary genre research perspective. 1/
@DrMJCWarren Let me add, that I really like Dr. Warren a lot. She is both a brilliant scholar and a very nice and energetic human being. I am a better researcher and a better person for knowing her. 2/
@DrMJCWarren So, do not expect anything particularly belligerent. Today, I am not in the business of harsh criticism, but in the business of being extremely interested and making remarks to a piece of very fine scholarship. 3/
@DrMJCWarren In other words, this is as much fun as academia gets, and I am here to enjoy it, not stamp upon it. I like having academic fun. I am just that kind of guy. 4/
@DrMJCWarren So, what is "hierophagy"? The book defines it as "specialized, sacred eating" (1). The book chooses it's topic from "Ancient Mediterranean Literature" with a clear focus in the Bible but also with a number of texts from the surrounding historical landscape. 5/
@DrMJCWarren The basic idea is that somebody in a text consumes some item of food with an otherworldly origin (note that, apparently a book can be food; at least it can be eaten in a sacred way) 6/
@DrMJCWarren The hierophagic eating transforms the eater and establishes a connection between the eater and the otherworldly realm. Persephone consumes food from Hades and is bound to the realm; John eats a scroll and has divine visions. 7/
@DrMJCWarren So, what is the #genre angle? 8/
@DrMJCWarren Well, the hierophagic meal is itself a genre. It's a recurrent form of action with a particular social purpose. If you will, a "situation based fusion of form and substance". 9/
@DrMJCWarren At this point, obviously, the genre crowd hears #CarolynMiller reverberating in the background. 10/
@DrMJCWarren Here she is - in the foreground - with Chuck Bazerman. Don´t they look just lovely? 11/
@DrMJCWarren But I digress. The book is not a full-on piece of genre research; we'll get back to that, but it does rest on two moves already made in genre research, and it does so very well. 12/
@DrMJCWarren The first is, as hinted, Carolyn Miller's "Genre as Social Action" (1984). If you are somehow and do not know Miller, you can find the article here. It is THE most quoted piece of genre research ever, methinks, unless you count Aristotle's Rhetoric.…
@DrMJCWarren Also, there is a little piece on Miller and her influence on my blog here.14/…
@DrMJCWarren Anway, Miller describes how genres are forms of action. They serve rhetorical purposes in our social life, we use them in situations to achieve aims that are achievable through discourse. We do things with genre. 15/
@DrMJCWarren This understanding has been foundational for modern genre research. It has been expanded, nuanced, developed, and sometimes twisted, but it has never been fully replaced, and is as alive today as it has ever been - and that's very much alive. 16/
@DrMJCWarren The book takes up the hierophagic meals as a genre in this Millerian sense, as it sees these meals as social actions. They are ways things are done in the social world. 17/
@DrMJCWarren In the terms of #genre research this, incidentally, is an #uptake. A concept from #AnneFreadman that Dr. Warren would enjoy immensely, I believe. 18/
@DrMJCWarren Anyway, Miller only gets Dr. Warren halfways there, because her book discusses "Ancient Mediterranean LITERATURE", not ancient Mediterranean society more broadly, and Miller's concept is directed at an actual sociality. Actual people doing people stuff. 19/
@DrMJCWarren Enter stage (right) a lesser researcher; yours truly, who has the honor of playing second violin to Miller's primarius. 20/
@DrMJCWarren (Oh, and being second violin to Miller is extremely honorable.Nothing modest here; I'll take that chair any day). 21/
@DrMJCWarren A few years back I made an aesthetic take on Miller by superimposing her concept of genre as social action on narrative literature and thus describing "Genre as Fictional Action".22/
@DrMJCWarren The study - less groundbreaking than Miller, but you can be less groundbreaking than Miller and still be the s....! - can be found here. It is a lot of fun, if you ask me. 23/…
@DrMJCWarren The basic idea then is, that you can analyse genre use in a literary work in the same way that you can analyse genre use IRL by looking at the genres themselves, the way they are used, and the - intradiegetic - social situation in which they appear as attempted actions. 24/
@DrMJCWarren This enables Dr Warren to make a central move in her own readings: she does not need to address the IRL-role of hierophagy as a genre; she just has to see the way it works within the literary text she addresses with no commitment to a sociality beyond the texts. 25/
@DrMJCWarren Now, I shall not enter into the text readings in the book. I might be able to add a thing or two from a perspective of literary analysis, but they are basically the scholarly realm of other researchers. 26/
@DrMJCWarren Instead, I shall address two questions that are very much genre questions, and where I may have something more useful to add.

1) The position on the book vis-a-vis what I sometimes call genre research proper.
2) The hierophagic meal as an embedded genre.

@DrMJCWarren 1) By "genre research proper" I mean the field of research that either works with genre as its primary topic, or systemati call uses existing genre research as an approach to other topics with a clear view to influence our general understanding of genre through its studies. 28/
@DrMJCWarren The book is, obviously, much closer to the second approach, but it stops short of engaging with developing theory within the genre research field, among other things because it's field of reference is too slim to make a contribution like that. 29/
@DrMJCWarren In case you are wondering: No, this is not a criticism of the book, it's an attempt to locate it in relation to genre research. 30/
@DrMJCWarren In fact, the book has its own field or fields, as is evidenced by its rich bibliography from the study of ancient Mediterranean literature. It's first and most important contribution lies here. It's use of genre research is ancillary to this purpose. 31/
@DrMJCWarren In that perspective, adding in a truckload of other genre researchers, some a lot better than me, would defeat the purpose by obscuring where the contribution lies. 32/
@DrMJCWarren Should we, nonetheless, choose to see it as a contribution to genre research proper, which is not an unreasonable #uptake (there's Anne Freadman again lurking at the edge of the thread) even given what has been said above ... 33/
@DrMJCWarren ... we might say that it contributes to a return of aesthetics in genre research. Aesthetics has been well-nigh dormant in genre research proper for decades, but has been slowly resurrected these last years and might get to play a more prominent role in years to come. 34/
@DrMJCWarren At least, I'll quote it in that function in future work. 35/
@DrMJCWarren 2) By "embedded genre" I understand a genre that is contained within the framework of another genre; a pie chart in a report, a joke in a lecture, a threat in a novel. 36/
@DrMJCWarren It is under-theorized in current genre research, and Bakhtin's description of primary and secondary genres has been given too much weight, including in my own "Genre and interpretation". 37/
@DrMJCWarren (I have a full article about it loitering in my drawer, but there are some revisions still missing before submission, so it might be a while). 38/
@DrMJCWarren Anyway, in the context of Dr. Warren's book, it's worth noting that hierophagy as she describes it is systematically an embedded genre. 39/
@DrMJCWarren It is not an overarching genre for a whole work, but is a genre that works as an element in other genres. 40/
@DrMJCWarren So, it must always be seen in the context of the larger work, in which it appears. And it has this micro-genre kind of function: it is used as a building block in a larger whole. 41/
@DrMJCWarren This does not make it any less interesting - personally I wrote a complete book chapter on the riddle in @grundtvig. Even if it only ever appears as an embedded genre in Grundtvig's writing, it is highly consequential. 42/
@DrMJCWarren @grundtvig But it is worth noting among other things because the biblical form criticism also focuses on this kind of genre; even if it is wholly unaware of a organized field of genre research - often for purely chronological reasons: the form critics largely came first. 43/
@DrMJCWarren @grundtvig So the questions become:

1) Does hierophagy exist on a "higher" level; is there such a thing as a work of hierophagy?
2) Does the book's treatment of the embedded genre improve our understanding of the workings of genre in ancient literature compared with form criticism? 44/
@DrMJCWarren @grundtvig I believe the last question is sort-of answered in the book, but I'll leave the answer to Dr. Warren. 45/
@DrMJCWarren @grundtvig Anyway, a highly interesting book. I very much recommend it to you.

And I'm off to bed.

I'm sure you snored through the last 30 tweets. My bad; not the book's. The book is excellent, even if the thread is not. 46/ends
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