THE CONFERENCE ON CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE is an interdisciplinary society dedicated to exploring the relationships between Christianity and literature. Organized formally in 1956, CCL is dedicated to both scholarly excellence and collegial exchange and includes hundreds of members from a variety of academic institutions and religious traditions from the United States, Canada, and more than a dozen other countries.



Through more than four decades of writing, poet Marilyn Nelson, the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, has limned the shapes of life and faith. This work includes explorations of her own life in personal lyric and the childhood verse-memoir How I Discovered Poetry, but it has also, perhaps even more typically, involved writing other lives. Carver: A Life in Verse examines the inseparability of scientific vocation, racialized experience, and Christian faithfulness in the extraordinary character of George Washington Carver. The Homeplace tells a family history populated by figures all the way back to Nelson’s great-great-great grandmother. The sonnet sequence A Wreath for Emmett Till memorializes the “mutilated boy martyr” while condemning “the blasphemies pronounced to justify / the profane, obscene theft of human lives.” In these and other books, Nelson has undertaken a concerted project of poetic life writing that is at once faith-filled and searching.
Nelson’s project raises questions of genre and purpose: what difference does poetry make to biography and autobiography? What risks haunt versified hagiography? What possibilities arise in the interstices of Christian struggle, self-narration, and aesthetic form? How do writers negotiate private and public purposes in life writing, including disciplines of contemplation and prophetic calls for justice?
Nelson’s project also raises questions of history and reception. Life writing has been a Christian endeavor from at least Augustine’s Confessions and Athanasius’s biography of Anthony of the Desert, not to mention the Gospels; how have twentieth-century developments like confessional poetry, the 1990s memoir boom, digital life writing, and the ongoing unfolding of (post)secular contexts complicated contemporary life writing and its relation to the tradition? How do we theorize readers’ and writers’ unflagging interest in both ancient and new life writing texts and their place in Christian practice? 



The Conference on Christianity and Literature is pleased to announce Sharon Kim as the winner of the 2019 Lionel Basney Award for her essay, “The Brokenness of Caesar’s Things: On the Unfinished Religious Novel by Zelda Fitzgerald,” published in Volume 68, Issue 2, of Christianity & Literature. The essay exemplarily practices the Christian narrative pattern and ethical imperative it exposits: redemptive recuperation. Kim takes up a novel, Caesar’s Things, surviving in fragments and often dismissed by critics as nonsensical product of a disturbed psyche; an author, Zelda Fitzgerald, taken seriously by scholars primarily as mythologized socialite and “muse and saboteur” (233) of her husband’s writing career, not as Christian convert during mental illness; and a literary modernism often seen as inimical to Christian faith and practice. Kim close-reads the novel to find formal cohesion in its Biblical narrative patterns of fall and redemption, thus establishing Fitzgerald’s authorial competence and the coherence of her faith. Under Kim’s scrutiny, Fitzgerald innovates intellectually and theologically, offering a revisionary account of modernism’s origins within the Christian faith; modernism’s problem is not the forms of its identity but its systematic rejection and effacement of its religious derivation. Committee members praised Kim’s essay for its close and responsible examination of manuscript fragments to build a case about Fitzgerald and her novel that has wide discipline-altering implications for modernist studies. Kim courageously ventures into sacrosanct territory “that even scholars have mythologized, not just the culture at large” and accomplishes a “significant revision of literary history undertaken within the scope of a single essay: . . . a turn towards faith by one of the canonical figures in modernism, and . . . that turn . . . a result of a kind of bottoming out of Bloomsbury.”


CCL for MLA 2022 | Washington, DC

Belief and Dante: Global perspectives on The Divine Comedy

2021 marks the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death and the completion of The Divine Comedy. The Conference on Christianity and Literature invites paper proposals for the 2022 MLA conference that consider the contemporary relevance of Dante’s work, across geographies, traditions, genres, and languages. In particular, this panel invites papers that seek to explore, interrogate, or clarify the stakes and status of belief itself, whether in Dante or in contemporary responses to the poem. 

Details forthcoming


CCL at MLA 2021 | Toronto

Details forthcoming

CCL at MLA 2020 | Seattle

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CCL at MLA 2019 | Chicago

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CCL at MLA 2018 | New York

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CCL at MLA 2017 | Philadelphia

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CCL at MLA 2016 | Austin

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CCL at MLA 2015 | Vancouver

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CCL at MLA 2014 | Chicago

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The Conference on Christianity & Literature is pleased to invite you to take advantage of this new tool from the Rivendell Center for Theology and the Arts (RCTA) at Yale University. This online directory is designed to serve both students and scholars working at the intersection of literature and religion. Find out more by clicking here.



At the Modern Language Association 2020 in Seattle, CCL presented the 2019 Book-of-the-Year Award to Michael Mears Bruner for his book A Subversive Gospel: Flannery O'Connor and the Reimagining of Beauty, Goodness, and Truth (InterVarsity Press, 2017).



For announcements about upcoming CCL Regional Conferences, please click here.



Any member of CCL may submit the name of a person to be considered for the award. All nominations are to be made in writing and submitted to the President no later than November 1. Each nomination should be accompanied by a brief letter of recommendation along with either a copy of the nominee’s cv or an equivalent biographical sketch; the latter documents may be supplied in electronic form or as links to web sites containing the information. The CCL Board of Directors will consider the nominations and conclude the selection process at its annual meeting in early January. For a list of the long line of distinguished recipients of the CCL Lifetime Achievement Award, please click here


For information about CCL Fellowships and Grants, please click here



Imago Dei: Poems from Christianity & Literature brings together a collection of poems reflecting on faith and art. The editor of the volume, Jill Baumgaertner, a poet herself, was President of CCL from 1999-2003. For more information, please click here



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