The Song of Songs as Multi-species Eco-sensual Assemblage

Le professeur Doane présentera une conférence dans le cadre de la réunion annuelle de la Society of Biblical Literature à Denver dans le groupe Reading, Theory, and the Bible.

Inspired by Deleuze and Guattari (1980) this paper will present the Song of Songs as a performative text that shapes two lovers in a more-than-human assemblage. The animals (including human animals) and vegetation that live in this text have been understood as allegories to talk about God, Jesus, the Church or metaphors to evoke human sexuality. I propose a hyper-literal reading that explore the multi-species ontologies of animals and natural elements assembled by this poem.

For instance, when the text reads “I am a crocus of Sharon, a lily of the valley” (2:1) interpreters see a comparative image, but what if we would take seriously the ontologically value of these poetic descriptions. The lovers ontological assemblage is very detailed. The male lover is not just a man, but also a bag of myrrh, a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Ein-Gedi (1:13-14), an apple tree (2:3), a gazelle, a young stag (2:8), etc. The female lover is not just a woman, she is a tent, a curtain (1:5) a vine (1:6), a mare (1:9), a dove (2:14), etc. The complex bodies of these lovers have human parts such as hands and heads, but they are represented with many non-human aspects. Notably, this poem does not use the generic categories of “animals” or “nature,” but names all kinds of species likewise to Derrida’s (2006) attention to heterogeneities and radical diversity. Stone p. 35 traitant de Derrida : “Close attention to the multiple modes of life found among non—human animals thus has the paradoxical effect of pluralizing the category of “animal” while simultaneously destabilizing the singular boundary constructed between humans and all other animals.”

This non-anthropocentric reading seeks to underscore how this poem blurs the limits between our comprehension of what is human and what is other-than-human. This reading destabilizes the concept of human bodies as separated from the nature environment they inhabit. The canticle’s figures do not live in nature, they are formed by nature.

12h45 à 15h15
SBL Denver