Seth Sanders has posted an interesting piece that appears to be a teaser for his upcoming SBL presentation on what he calls the scribal “shadow culture”—that is, the literary evidence not from the “big, famous corpora of Mesopotamian and Egyptian scholastic life.” He raises some really interesting points about how these “shadow traditions” may have quite a bit to tell us with respect to ancient literacy and the range of ancient literature. I really appreciate where Sanders seems to be going here, as I’ve long thought that our guesses about ancient literacy all too often ignore things like graffiti, which assumes an audience that can understand what’s been written while also being too monolithic (i.e. not adequately accounting for potentially dramatic differences in literacy between cultures and empires in the same time period). Sanders appears to be heading both of these off with this project, and I’m interested in where things go from here.
Seth Sanders: We Need to Account for the Literature of the Little Guys
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