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.


CCL Session at MLA 2018 | New York

CALL FOR PAPERS: “The Secular and the Literary”

Convened by Caleb D. Spencer & Mark Eaton

In the wake of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, many scholars have begun to think about the ways that religious beliefs, experiences, and affects have been sublimated in unusual places. John A. McClure, Amy Hungerford, Tracey Fessenden, and Jared Hickman have each separately argued against seeing various authors’ works as secular fictions, suggesting instead that they are representative of a “postsecular” outlook in late-modern culture. According to McClure, the “postsecular” is a “mode of being and seeing that is at once critical of secular constructions of reality and of dogmatic religiosity” (McClure ix). These partial faiths, in McClure’s formulation, represent a third way between religious dogmatism on one hand and militant secularism on the other. Similarly, Hungerford has suggested that writers such as Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, and others have appropriated the cultural authority and discursive power of religion, but without wholly embracing a traditional religious point of view. Yet it remains unclear just how much the “secular” has been abandoned as the dominant critical framework of literary studies. As Peter Coviello and Jared Hickman write in an introduction to a special issue of American Literature, “the things we kill off tend not to disappear. They have a mysterious tenacity, afterlives not easily reckoned with. Just so, it is our sense that, here in the aftermath of the demise of the secularization thesis, we are only now beginning to grasp how deeply we remain in it: how shaped our conceptual frameworks are, down to their most elemental premises, by secularization” (646). Attending to the ways that literary studies and literature have advanced, altered, or intercepted the conversation about the secular and the literary, this panel seeks to address questions such as: What is the place of the literary within the history and formation of the secular? What histories of the field, discipline, or literary object might have purchase on the secular/religion binary? If that binary has outlived its usefulness, what might replace it? We are also interested in critical engagements with those modes of analysis that have become most prominent in so-called postsecular literary studies, from the turn to religion and the presumed demise of secularization theory to the political and ethical implications of naming something (a text, an era, a methodology) postsecular. Does the term “post-secular,” which has begun to appear with some frequency, describe anything more than an academic trend? Papers should advance the conversation about the secular and the literary.

Papers or Abstracts and CV should be sent by March 1, 2017 to


Special Session MLA 2018 | New York

"Kathleen Norris: Torpor and Memoir"

Please consider submitting an abstract for the Conference on Christianity and Literature’s proposed panel for the 2018 MLA Convention in New York City. Kathleen Norris will be reading and commenting on her work at this panel.

Kathleen Norris has typically been celebrated for her unexpected discoveries of the spiritual in the regional (Dakota) and the mysterious in the quotidian (The Cloister Walk). However, as Acedia and Me makes clear, such moments of intensified perception are the hard-earned counterpoint to her struggle with profound indifference. This inability to care may take the form of debilitating melancholy on a personal level and frustrating paralysis on an artistic level, but Norris also recognizes that it underlies a pernicious apathy that threatens to make heart-sick an entire nation. This panel seeks to explore the often-ignored torpor that has darkened, complicated, and animated Norris's works.
As contributors examine the relationship between acedia and the various works that comprise Norris's ongoing spiritual autobiography, they may want to focus on how acedia in Norris underwrites her explorations of writing, faith, and such temporary homeplaces as South Dakota, Vermont, New York, Minnesota, and Hawaii. They may want to connect Norris's sense of acedia with various traditions in women's autobiography, spiritual writing, and critical theory. They may want to read Norris by way of dialogue with such writers as Emily Dickinson, Flannery O'Connor, Marilynne Robinson, Annie Dillard, and Mary Oliver. They may want to view Norris's struggle with acedia in terms of other religious traditions that have recognized the same torpor. Or they may want to use any approach that usefully interrogates the malaise with which Norris has struggled as a woman, believer, and writer.
Please send abstracts (250 words) to Gary Ciuba <> by March 1, 2017.


CCL at MLA 2017 | Philadelphia

On January 6, 2017 at the MLA annual convention in Philadelphia , CCL organized the following session, which was selected by MLA President Anthony Appiah for inclusion in a select list of featured sessions addressing this year's convention theme "Boundary Conditions":

292. "Here I Stand": Five Hundred Years after Luther

12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 411–412, Philadelphia Marriott

Program arranged by the Conference on Christianity and Literature

Presiding: Clare Costley King'oo, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs

1. "Martin Luther and the History of Rhetoric," Carl Springer, Univ. of Tennessee, Chattanooga

2. "Martin Luther in Arab and Islamic Writings: The Early Modern Period," Nabil I. Matar, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities

3. "Requisitioning Luther in the German Catholic Literary Inner Emigration, 1933–45," Helena Tomko, Villanova Univ.

4. "'The Dark Forces of the Germanic Peoples': Stefan Zweig's and Stefan Heym's Critique of Martin Luther," Gregor A. Thuswaldner, Gordon Coll., MA

For abstracts, write to

We will accommodate the following audiovisual request(s) for your session: Projection equipment for a computer

Keywords: Reformation, religion, rhetoric, Islam, Christianity


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 Nominating Committee of the Conference on Christianity and Literature (CCL) is seeking candidates to run for the following positions within the organization:

President (two-year term, beginning in January, after the CCL January board meeting)

Treasurer (two-year term, beginning in January, after the CCL January board meeting)

Four Board Members (three-year terms, beginning in January, after the CCL January board meeting); for the 2018 election we will be seeking representatives from the Southwest, the Midwest, and the Western regions, plus an At-large member. Those who win election to these offices are encouraged to attend the January meeting of the CCL board.

Nominations should be sent by June 30 to

Job Descriptions (All candidates must be members of CCL):

Board Members (three-year terms, beginning in January for representatives):

• Attend the annual meeting of the CCL Board. This occurs at the regularly scheduled annual meeting of the Modern Language Association.

• Oversee the activities of the region, with special consideration for scheduling and running an annual conference

• Occasionally volunteer for additional activities and committee service.

Treasurer (two-year term, beginning Jan. 2016) The Treasurer is the chief financial officer of the Society and is responsible for the receipt, custody, and disbursement of Society funds and other assets. The treasurer is custodian of the financial records of the Society and reports on the year's finances at the annual meeting at the MLA. In general, the treasurer cuts checks, keeps the books, and reports on doing so. The treasurer also files CCL's taxes. The treasurer serves on the Executive Board and participates in discussions, especially with regards to the finances of the organization. The treasurer works closely with the managing editor of the journal ("Christianity & Literature") and the vice- president, who is in charge of the regional conferences, as these two areas have the most activity during the year. The treasurer needs to be well organized, detail oriented, and comfortable with electronic banking.

President (two-year term), beginning Jan. 2018) • Conduct the annual meeting of the CCL board. This meeting occurs during the MLA convention. • Oversee of all functions of the organization. • Carry out decisions reached at the annual board meeting.



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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