Deborah, Jael and Delilah: Biblical Heroines and their Reception in Literature, Arts, Music and Film from the 19th to 21st Century


This workshop explores the reception history of Deborah, Jael and Delilah, the most famous heroines of the book of Judges, in literature, art, music, film and contemporary visual languages, such as comic or graphic novels, from the 19th to the 21th century. Throughout reception history, artistic images of these women present them as exemplary women, albeit in an ambivalent way: Their portrait may encourage or warn women to become like the biblical heroines. Furthermore, the biblical figures have also been used to reflect on role models, social conventions and gender stereotypes.

It is the goal of this workshop to analyse the different artistic portraits of these women, the development and transformation of their images in the cultural, social and religious contexts of the 19th and 21th century.


Reception History of Biblical in the Arts, Book of Judges, Deborah, Jael, Delilah


Guadalupe Seijas de los Ríos-Zarzosa Complutense University of Madrid
Susanne Gillmayr-Bucher Catholic Private University Linz

Member Area

Warsaw 2019 Call for Papers

This workshop focuses on Deborah, Jael and Delilah, and wants to illustrate in which ways these biblical women have been portrayed during the last 200 years and for which purposes their stories have been utilised.

We welcome proposals focusing on the artistic portrait, development and transformation of Deborah, Jael or Delilah in the cultural, social and religious contexts of the 19th – 21th century. The papers should consider how social, political and religious contexts influenced the perception of the biblical women and also how the biblical stories helped to understand, support or criticise these contexts. Particular attention should be given to the relationship between the interpretations of the biblical heroines and the images of women in the respective era.

Proposals thus might focus on questions like:

  • In which ways have Deborah, Jael and Delilah been portrayed as role models or anti-models in the arts, for traditional as well as feminist contexts? 

  • How do the artistic portraits interpret the women’s relationship with the male heroes (Barak, Sisera, Samson)? Do their images fulfil or contradict social/religious expectations? 

  • Which contemporary gender stereotypes have been used, respectively, overcome to depict the biblical women in their artistic portrait? 

  • How do artistic and contemporary exegetic interpretations interact with one another?

  • How do the artistic images of the biblical women change over time?


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