JOURNAL   Christianity & Literature is devoted to the scholarly exploration of how literature engages Christian thought, experience, and practice. The journal presupposes no particular theological orientation but respects an orthodox understanding of Christianity as a historically defined faith. Contributions appropriate for submission should demonstrate a keen awareness of the author's own critical assumptions in addressing significant issues of literary history, interpretation, and theory.

For more than fifty years, Christianity & Literature has served as the primary public face of the Conference on Christianity and Literature; it is a member of CELJ, the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. Published quarterly, each issue contains peer-reviewed scholarly articles, book reviews, poetry, and announcements.  


Mark Eaton
Azusa Pacific University

Associate Editors
Matthew J. Smith
Caleb D. Spencer
Azusa Pacific University

Book Review Editor
Philip Mitchell
Dallas Baptist University

Poetry Editor
Peter Cooley
Tulane University



Articles should be submitted electronically at

The editors assign book reviews by invitation. For inquiries see our detailed Submission Guidelines.

  • Poetry submissions are accepted in hard copy form only. Please send all poetry submissions to:

  • Peter Cooley, Poetry Editor
    Christianity & Literature
    Tulane University
    Department of English, Norman Mayer 122
    New Orleans, LA 70118

  • Please be sure to include all relevant contact information along with poem or poems. Because of the volume of poetry received, submissions will not be acknowledged or returned unless they are accompanied by an SASE with sufficient return postage.

For detailed instructions on essay and poetry submissions, see Submission Guidelines or consult our complete guidelines at SAGE:



Special Issue of Christianity & Literature
Special Issue Editor: Gary Kuchar (University of Victoria)

Christianity & Literature seeks essays for a special issue on George Herbert and Religion. Ideal submissions offer nuanced discussions of Herbert’s writing informed by his religious culture.

Essays on the following topics will be especially welcome:
- Herbert and medieval traditions
- Herbert's reception history, both poetic and religious (up to and including the 21st-century)
- Herbert and puritanism
- Herbert and the New Testament
- Herbert and post-revisionist historiography
- Herbert and historical-phenomenology or other new approaches to Herbert
- Herbert and theory of the lyric.

Please email submissions of 6,000-9,000 words to by June 15, 2016. The call for submissions will remain open until the issue is filled. You may direct questions and inquiries to Gary Kuchar (Special Issue Editor) and Matthew Smith (CAL Associate Editor) at cal@apu.


Special Issue of Christianity & Literature

This special issue of Christianity & Literature furthers the journal’s aim to investigate the complex relations between literature, drama, and Christian thought and history by bringing a critical eye to “sacramental” reading—to examine its limitations, unseen investments, and unexplored promises.

A dominant theme of recent years’ turn to religion in English studies has been the sacramental dimensions of texts and performances. Scholars have explored the interpretive deliverances of how texts enact and embody the cultural, epistemological, and metaphysical functions that Christian practice traditionally associates with sacramental devotion. Especially in their poetics and theatricality, texts and performances have been described as sacramental, incarnation, and eucharistic. Sometimes scholars connect these readings to an author’s awareness of theological controversy, such that an author or playwright is thought to engage in theological debate through writing and performance. Other approaches focus on a broader cultural demand or “gap” in popular access to the transcendent, and literary production is understood to meet such demands for transcendence, justice, semiotic complexity, embodiment, or metaphysical depth.

Yet these reading strategies—e.g., sacramental drama, sacramental poetics, incarnational texts—have been largely neglected from critical scrutiny and, at times, are only defined loosely or even analogically in connection with theological doctrines of penance, the trinity, and various historical versions of sacramental theology (transubstantiation, consubstantiation, memorialism, and so on). In fact, it has begun to be suggested that sacramental reading may in fact, almost ironically, contribute to a secularization thesis, where claims of literature’s sacramental surrogation imply some sort of loss or dysfunction in sacred access in mainstream devotional culture. What do sacramental readings imply about the state of devotion in a given society? How, if at all, are such terms as sacramental, eucharistic, and incarnational any more than metaphorical when applied to literary production or to audiences? And does this reading strategy sometimes impose a sacred-secular binary anachronistically upon historical societies? Alternatively, does the language of sacramentality demand further investment and offer unique insight into semiotic and performative force of drama and poetry?

We invite essay submissions that question and explore the sacramental, incarnational, or eucharistic aspects of texts or performances from any historical moment. Submit essays (6,000-9,000 words) to Matthew Smith, Associate Editor, at by June 1, 2016.


Two Special Issues of Christianity & Literature 
Editors: Matthew J. Smith and Caleb Spencer

The journal Christianity & Literature seeks essay submissions for two companion special issues to be published on the topic of “Sincerity.” These issues will explore the various ways that the history and thought of Christianity informs what we understand by sincerity. One issue will be devoted to literature written through the European Romantic movement, and the other to literature written since.

Although Patricia Ball’s 1964 article, “Sincerity: the Rise and Fall of a Critical Term,” suggests that the interpretive force of “sincerity” had fallen, her essay marks a vital resurgence in academic interest in sincerity and authenticity. Ball responds primarily to sincerity’s journey from Romanticism as part of the creative process, to Victorian thought and its deployment as a moral category, to modernism and its critical disambiguation. Since the 1960s, the question has received steady critical interest. Lionel Trilling’s 1970 book, Sincerity and Authenticity, was followed by influential contributions to the topic by writers including Charles Taylor, Marshall Berman, Charles Lindholm, Stanley Cavell, Elizabeth Markovits, and Jane Taylor. The focuses of these books range from Trilling’s account of “authenticity’s” departure from “sincerity” as it leaves behind the requirement of moral devotion, to R. Jay Magill’s 2012 best-selling popular history whose title says it all: Sincerity: How a Moral Ideal Born Five Hundred Years Ago Inspired Religious Wars, Modern Art, Hipster Chic, and the Curious Notion That We ALL Have Something to Say (No Matter How Dull). Alongside other religions and institutions, Christianity plays a central role in these studies, often providing an imperative moral framework within which concepts of sincerity emerge or, alternatively, from which articulations of sincerity break. Christianity remains key to theorizing sincerity, not least, because the notions of selfhood, truth, representation, performance, and interiority that comprise “sincerity” and “authenticity” shift historically with movements in theology and religious practice.

We welcome submissions on any topics that bring together literature broadly defined, sincerity or authenticity, and the history and thought of Christianity. Ideal essays are grounded in readings of a text(s) and also discuss how these readings advance or challenge scholarly paradigms for understanding sincerity. We particularly encourage submissions that engage emerging critical methodologies, such as affect studies, ecocriticism, historical phenomenology, postsecularism, the (post)human, biopolitics, and new materialism.

Origin Stories: The History of Sincerity and Christianity in Premodern Literature

Scholars seem to be preoccupied with the origins of modern sincerity. More than related topics like morality, representation, and subjectivity, sincerity and authenticity are tied in scholarly accounts to various emergence narratives. We frequently ask: what medieval scholastic idea, or early modern interrogation strategy, or humanist innovation planted the seed of modern notions of self-reflection and honest expression? Most major monographs on sincerity devote significant early sections to the question sincerity’s provenance and to the early modern period in particular and then show how notions of self-truth and self-representation evolve through cultural shifts in science, religion, politics, and social fashion especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Yet few scholars have examined in detail the premodern history of sincerity in literature and drama. The several studies that do have proven rich in explicating the complexities of performance, representation, authorship, and genre as they manifest in aesthetic works—and also as these works reveal the unseen human and institutional forces that constrain “sincere” action. This ongoing conversation can benefit from a collection specifically focused on the relations between literature and Christianity in these periods.

This issue invites submissions on the history of sincerity and Christianity from the late Medieval period through the Romantic period. Example topics include sincerity’s literary history in:
• medieval voluntarism and scholastic thought
• the Protestant Reformation
• the middle class
• theater and performativity
• early representations of cultural and religious “others”
• the Protestant work “ethic”
• ecclesiastical change and church egalitarianism
• genre
• skepticism
• rhetoric
• forms of investigative terror
• Weber’s thesis
• confession and profession
• religious conversion
• authorship and publishing
• secularization

Sincerity and Beyond: from Romanticism to the Postmodern

The transition to modernity produces new material conditions that in turn complicate and produce increasing problems for sincerity, beginning with the growth of individualism, increased urbanization, changing democratic practices in Europe and its colonies, and alterations in the modes of production (increasingly robust print culture, mass production techniques, improved travel, etc.). Beginning with the transition to Romanticism in Continental Europe and England and ending with contemporary authors like David Foster Wallace and Ben Lerner, this issue will address the transformations and continuities in the idea of sincerity in cultural production while tracing its lineage in Christian theology, devotional practices, and affections. We seek articles that explain some the ways that sincerity continues to be deployed in the 19th and 20th century, demonstrating the continuities and discontinuities in these deployments and earlier Christian theological concerns. For example papers on Romantic, Victorian, Realist, or developments and deployments of earlier models of Christian sincerity would be welcome. Additionally we’d love to see papers that might engage with American pragmatism or continental Modernism as these movements seek to continue and transform earlier modes of sincerity while reciprocally engaging shifting religious discourses. Finally papers addressing the close of the 20th century with its post-9/11 “end of irony” would help to show where sincerity has come in the recent past. Indeed, the resurgence of discourses of personal freedom, especially related to identity performance and production in contemporary fiction, film, and even visual art, would seem to offer many possible avenues for analysis.

Possible topics
- Romantic confessions of sincerity
- Rousseau and the problem of sincerity and performance
- Sincerity and the Romantic self
- Victorian Sincerity
- Empire, Colonies, and Sincerity
- Naturalism and sincerity
- Technological Innovation and sincerity
- Realism, Representation, Documentary, and problems of sincerity
- American Pragmatism and the impossibility of insincerity
- Sincerity and Modernism
- Parody, Readymades, Sincerity
- Literary Theory and Sincerity
- Identity (sexual, race/culture, class), Performance, and Sincerity
- Sincerity, Parody, and Postmodern Irony
- The New Sincerity and the critique of Irony

Submit essays of 6,000-9,000 words Matthew J. Smith and Caleb Spencer at by June 1, 2016. Please address questions to Matthew Smith ( or Caleb Spencer ( Christianity & Literature is a peer-reviewed journal published by SAGE.

Christianity & Literature Volume 65, Issue 3 (June 2016)

Special Issue: The Environmental Imagation


Mark Eaton, "The Environmental Imagination"

Joshua Mabie, "The Field is Ripe: Christian Literary Scholarship, Postcolonial Ecocriticism, and Environmentalism" 

Paul Willis, "'He Hath Builded the Mountains': John Muir's God of the Glaciers" 

William Tate, "Avian Diptych: Richard Wilbur's Flights of the Imagination"

Jeffrey R. Bilbro, "The Ecology of Memory: Augustine, Eliot, and the Form of Wendell Berry's Fiction"

Richard Rankin Russell, "Embodying Place: Ecotheology and Deep Incarnation in Cormac McCarthy's The Road"

Lawrence Buell, "Afterword"

Julia Spicher Kasdorf, "A Pastor and Part-Time Security Guard Wonders about the Work Ethic"



Christianity & Literature Volume 65, Issue 1 (December 2015)

Ethan Smilie, “Goddes Pryvetee and a Wyf: Curiositas and the Triadic Sins in the Miller's and Reeve's Tales” 

Daniel J. Hanna, “La guirlande térésienne: A Nineteenth-century ‘Teresian Bard’ Sings the Praises of Teresa of Avila” 

Jose I. Badenes, “Until Death Do Us Part: Matrimony, Casti Connubii, and the Catholic Church in Federico García Lorca's Yerma

Marisa Pierson, “Vocation and Time in Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede

Stephen Mirachi, “The Paradox of Powerlessness in Robert Pinsky's Early Jesus Poems”

Daniel Vruels, “Pilgrimage”

Ricardo Pau-Llosa, “Papyrus Fragments”


Christianity & Literature Volume 65, Issue 2 (March 2016) 

J. Russell Perkin, “Matthew Arnold, the Oxford Movement, and the stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse”

Suzanne Stewart, “Gerard Manley Hopkins: Sensuality and Spirituality in the Diaries and Journals”

Laurie Camp Hatch, “Gerard Manley Hopkins and Victorian Approaches to the Problems of Perception: Affirming the Metaphysical in the Physical”

Michael Edwards, “A Magic, Unquiet Body”

Jo-Anne Cappeluti, “W.H. Auden’s For The Time Being: Christian Proof? Aesthetic Possibility?”

Anthony Domestico, “‘Clampitt and the Cloisters”

Sofia M. Starnes, “Another Life”

Valerie Wohfield, “Vale of Siddim”

Review Essay
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, “Poetry, the Power of the Pen, & the Redemption of Time” 



Read excerpts from the book, Imago Dei, featuring poetry from 60 years of Christianity and Literature.