Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Theologie en Religiewetenschap
Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion

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Grand Course 2018

Each year NOSTER offers a Grand Course, in which we engage with one theme in a multidisciplinary context. This year’s Grand Course consists of a Masterclass with Prof. dr. Jörg Rüpke (Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien, Universität Erfurt) discussing his book Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion and the conference ‘Interpreting Rituals: Historiographical Perspectives and Pluralistic Contexts’ (NGG, LUCSoR, NOSTER & Universität Erfurt).

About Jörg Rüpke’s Pantheon
‘Jörg Rüpke’s Pantheon is a stimulating and sometimes challenging book, narrating the history of Roman religion from the ninth century BCE to the fourth century CE. This long temporal (and spatial) range allows for an analysis of one of the most fundamental transformations of “religion”. In Rüpke’s own words: “we will describe how from a world in which one practised rituals, there emerged a world of religions, to which one could belong” (1).
While speaking about the past, this study requires us to think about religion in terms of networks, communication, and competence, in relation to “not indubitably plausible actors”, and long-term patterns in the appropriation of religious ideas and practices by individuals of all walks of life. Its thorough theoretical focus on individual agency makes Pantheon worthwhile for all scholars of religion struggling to find the right balance between the individual and collective dynamics of a religious or cultural tradition. It is highly recommended!’  – Mattias Brand


  • Preparation: Participants read Jörg Rüpke’s Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion (translation of Pantheon: Geschichte der antiken Religionen, 2016; Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018): the Introduction (pp. 1-23),  chapter IV, chapter VI, chapter VIII, chapter IX, chapter XI and the Epilogue will be discussed more extensively. Participants are expected to write a summary and analysis of one of the assigned chapters, including three questions for discussion. Note that this report (max. 1,500 words) must be submitted in advance.
  • Masterclass (29 October): The book will be discussed with the author; five chapters will be discussed in more detail, introduced and chaired by one of the participants. The assigned chapters are: the Introduction, Chapter IV, Chapter VI, Chapter VIII, Chapter IX, Chapter XI and the Epilogue.
  • Conference (29-31 October): the participants take an active part in the conference.
  • Paper: To receive an additional 3 EC, participants can either present a paper at the conference or write a paper on a theme related to the Masterclass and/or the conference (see below). Both types of papers will be marked.

As to the (written) paper
To top off the master class, participants can write a 3 EC paper. This can either be a paper presented at the conference (proposal to be submitted through the conference website before 30 June) or a paper written on a theme related to the Masterclass and/or the conference (see below). Both types of papers will be marked. As for the second type of paper, participants summarize and discuss either (1) the general outline of Rüpke’s Pantheon, zooming in on two chapters in detail (one of which may be the same as that prepared for the master class) or (2) the general gist of the conference, zooming in on two presentations during the conference. In both options, they relate this to their own research in the field of religion, discussing what concepts, theories and methods introduced by Rüpke and others mean for their own work in religion. The paper should be between 2,500 and 3,000 words long, using one of the standard referencing methods.

30 June: Submitting paper proposal when you would like to present a paper at the conference (proposal to be submitted through the conference website).
1 October: Applications for the Grand Course need to be completed. When applying, participants should include a selection of three chapters from Pantheon (in order of preference), one of which they will be assigned for in-depth preparation.
23 October: participants should have submitted their report on the assigned chapter of Pantheon to NOSTER (
1 December: Deadline for the submission of the paper.

Program Masterclass
10:30-11:00    Registration
11.00-11.15      Welcome and brief introductions – moderated by prof. Murre-van den Berg
11.15-12.30      Pantheon (concept of religion, layout, modelling of religious change) – discussion led by prof. Rüpke
12.30-13.30     Lunch break
13.30-16.00     Discussion of single chapters Chapter IV, Chapter VI, Chapter VIII, Chapter IX, Chapter XI – introduced and moderated by the respective participant.
16.00-16.30     Final discussion (unanswered questions, transferability of approach, feedback on procedure) – moderated by prof. Murre-van den Berg

The programme of the conference (from Monday evening 29 until Wednesday afternoon 31 October) will be announced on the conference website.

Location: Johan Huizinga Building (Doelensteeg 16, 2311 VL Leiden), room 0.25.
Credits: 2 EC (excl. paper/presentation) or 5 EC (incl. paper). The paper will be graded.
Participation and registration: Once you have created a personal account on this website and have logged-in, you can register for this event by clicking the green “Register for this item” button on the right.
Costs: NOSTER’s PhD candidates and ReMA students can participate free of charge in the Grand Course (masterclass and conference); however, the conference dinner (on Tuesday 30 October) will be at your own expense (€40). For others, the costs are €50 per EC plus the conference registration fee of €85. Note that when due to unforeseen circumstances you are unable to attend, you should inform the NOSTER office as soon as possible. Otherwise, the full costs of the conference (€85) will be charged to you.


  • 29 Oct 2018 10:30 16:30
    The first keynote lecture of the conference will start at 18:00.
  • 30 Oct 2018
  • 31 Oct 2018


Johan Huizinga Building, Doelensteeg 16, 2311 VL Leiden