Talking About Šumma Ālu

I’m not the only one who talks about Šumma Ālu and Šumma Izbu; so does Marie-Françoise Besnier. In fact, she will be talking about both on Thursday 26 April 2012 at Cambridge. Her topic is “Textual transmission and hypertextuality in ancient Mesopotamia: the example of the divinatory series šumma ālu and šumma izbu (second to first millennia BC).” This is a topic that I find abnormally interesting. I wish I could attend. Maybe you can. Even if you can’t, check out the formal announcement/synopsis. Here is the last paragraph of that synopsis,

In Ancient Near Eastern studies, it has long been assumed that textual transmission was limited to a simple process of ‘canonisation’ or ‘standardisation’. Yet, a thorough study of the so-called ‘canonised’ Mesopotamian manuscripts indicates that such a view is too reductive. Many sources, especially the ones dealing with knowledge and meaning, such as the divinatory series, proved to be intractable to such a process. They thus form a corpus of ‘literature in the second degree’, closely related to each other through a relationship of hypertextuality (according to G. Genette’s definition of the term). In this way, the textual traditions are indeed the cultural memory of the society, but also conform to the new cultural realities. I shall concentrate here on the history of the series šumma ālu and šumma izbu, and determine their transtextual relationships and their transformation through, amongst other methods, the study of linguistic repertoires.

See why I would like to be there.
Via Jack Sasson’s Agade list.