1611 Symposium

The King James Bible’s 400th anniversary

On November 10–13, 2011, over 1000 people attended a series of events across the city of Memphis exploring the making and legacy of the 1611 publication of the "King James" Bible. These events were supported by Pearce Shakespeare Endowment and over a dozen co-sponsors, noted below. Media: flyer; poster; schedule; facebook page;Chapter 16 interview with Alter; Counterpoint interview with Alter; Commercial Appeal review of Alter′s book; Memphis Flyer interview with Alter; Manifold Greatness blog entry and follow upThe Bible and Interpretation blog.


November 9-December 21 (10am-5pm daily), Barret Library is displaying "Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible." This traveling exhibition for libraries was organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. It is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, with assistance from the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas, to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. This exhibition is free and open to the public, and was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

On Thursday, November 10, 6:30-8pm (reception, 6:00pm) at the University of Memphis (University Center), Robert Alter (UC-Berkeley) delivered the keynote lecture on "The King James Bible and the Question of Eloquence." Alter′s visit was co-sponsered by the Naseeb Shaheen Memorial Lecture of the University of Memphis Department of English, the Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities (MOCH), Christian Brothers University, the Project for the Study of Liberal Democracy at Rhodes College, and the Society for Comparative Research on Iconic and Performative Texts (SCRIPT), with a major matching grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

On Friday, November 11, 1-5pm at Rhodes College (Blount Auditorium), brief (25-minute) presentations were delivered by five distinguished scholars, with a response by Robert Alter and a roundtable discussion.

* Michael Leslie on behalf of Brian Cummings (Sussex): "In the Literal Sense: The Protestant Bible and the Theory of Reading"

* Hannibal Hamlin (Ohio State University): "Reflections after 2011: What I′ve Learned from the KJV Anniversary"

Naomi Tadmor (Lancaster): "The Social Universe of the King James Bible"

Ena Heller (Museum of Biblical Art): "Against the King′s Wishes: Art and the King James Bible"

Vincent Wimbush (Claremont Graduate University): "White Men′s Magic: The Black Atlantic Reads King James:

Their visits were co-sponsored by African American StudiesHistory, the Lillian and Morrie Moss Endowment for the Visual Arts, Religious Studies, Search, and the Spence L. Wilson Chair in the Humanities.

On Sunday, November 13, 7-9pm (Hardie Auditorium), the consort of viols Parthenia performed an early music recital, sponsored by the Mike Curb Institute for Music.


Additional 1611-related events in the region:

* January 27: Commemoration of the King James translation, Harding University Graduate School of Religion Library

* July 6–January 8: Exhibit: "Divine Words/Common Tongues: Reformation Era Bibles and Print,"Brooks Museum of Art

August 22–January 31: Display of Elvis Presley′s copy of the King James Bible, Graceland

* September 15: Film screening: Shakespeare′s Globe Theatre presents "Henry VIII," Malco Paradiso

September 15-17: Conference on KJV 400: Legacy and Impact, Union University (Jackson)

September 16–February 19: Display of seventeenth-century English coffer box, The National Ornamental Metal Museum

October 1-9: Exhibit: "The Enduring Word: The Bible Before 1611," Museum of Biblical History(Collierville)

October 5–November 9: Seminar on "1611 and All That" at the Meeman Center, Rhodes College, taught by Michael Leslie, Dean of British Studies at Oxford

October 5-23: Production of Macbeth, Tennessee Shakespeare Company (Shelby Farms Park)

October 23, 3:30pm: Concert: "A Bit of Byrd and a Bit of the Bard," with Rhodes Singers,Women′s Chorus, and theatrical guests, Evergreen Presbyterian Church

October 24: Lecture: Ellie Bagley on "Catholics and the King James Bible: Stories from England, Ireland, and America," Spain Auditorium, Christian Brothers University

* November 6, 5:30pm: Evensong service for All Saints, with music by Elizabethan composers,St. George′s Episcopal Church (Germantown)

November 12, 10:30am: Film screening: "The Seventh Seal" (Sweden, Ingmar Bergman, 1957), Brooks Museum of Art

* November 17, 7:00pm: Documentary film screening: "Preacher" (USA, Daniel Kraus, 2010),Brooks Museum of Art 

November 29, 4:00pm: Lecture: "The Significance of the Translation of the King James Bible,"LeMoyne-Owen College, Hanson Student Center


Other events, as noted by the King James Bible Trust:

* "400 Years of the King James Bible", a conference at Baylor University, April 7-9

"The King James Bible and Its Cultural Afterlife", a conference at Ohio State University, May 6-8

"The Bible in the Seventeenth Century", a conference at the University of York, July 7-9

"On Eagle′s Wings", an exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA), New York, July 8-October 16

* "Manifold Greatness", an exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, September 23-January 14 

Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) conferences in London (July) and San Francisco (November)