"Solemn Geographies & Sacred Places: The Literature of Holy Location"

 5-7 October 2017 

 Abilene Christianity University-Dallas Campus 

16633 Dallas Parkway, Addison, Texas 75001


Keynote Speaker: Wilfred M. McClay, “Gardeners and Pilgrims: The Dual Aspect of Place in the Christian Imagination”

Dr. McClay is the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty and Director of the Center for the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma. He is the award-winning author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America; and co-editor of Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America. For 11 years he served on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been appointed to the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which is planning events for the nation’s 250th anniversary. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Academy of Education.

Gaston Bachelard in his classic The Poetics of Space remarked that “the space we love is unwilling to remain permanently enclosed.” Instead, beloved places and locations are “felicitous space’ and ‘eulogized space” because “all really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of time.” This is especially true of sacred places: churches, chapels, abbeys, hermitages, martyrs’ graves, family altars, fountains, monuments, and natural locations. As Bachelard realized, poems, stories, and essays are some of the universal ways that we experience such places and give words to our faith, doubt, love, fear, and mystery. In particular, the literature of Christianity, both by its believers and its skeptics, offers a rich and multi-faceted response to how we participate in holy places and how they give themselves to us in turn. 

TO REGISTER, go to this website

For more information, contact:

Dr. Amanda Himes, at 

Dr. Darryl Tippens, at 




Mixing Water with Wine? Innkeepers at the Borders of Secular and Sacred

April 13-15, 2018

George Fox University


Keynote Speakers:

Gina Ochsner is the author of the short story collection The Necessary Grace to Fall, which received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the story collection People I Wanted to Be. Both books received the Oregon Book Award. Her novel The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight received the Grub Street Book Prize in 2011 and was long listed for the Orange Prize in 2010. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Glimmertrain and the Kenyon Review.  

Darryl Tippens co-edited Shadow & Light: Literature and the Life of Faith, a popular anthology featuring fiction, essays and poems by 48 writers, now in its third edition and author of Pilgrim Heart: The Way of Jesus in Everyday Life. He served as Provost at Pepperdine University from 2001-2014 and is currently University Distinguished Professor at Abilene Christian University. Tippens is President of The Conference on Christianity and Literature.

Call for Papers: When wrestling with the “secular” / “sacred” divide, many interpreters of the Bible came to see secular wisdom as represented by water, sacred wisdom by wine. In Isaiah 1:22, innkeepers are blamed for mixing water with wine, leaving many to conclude that sacred and secular wisdom should not be mingled. However, Thomas Aquinas suggests that a problematic mixing comes not when the secular and sacred are brought into contact, but only when we lose sight of the distinctiveness of each. By bringing secular works, secular wisdom, “into the service of the faith, [we] do not mix water with wine, but rather change water into wine.” Paper proposals might address:

• In what sense is the “secular” / “sacred” division helpful to our study of literature, either that which is written by Christians or otherwise?

• In what sense can literary or other theories that have origins outside of the Christian tradition be “brought into the service of the faith” through literary interpretation?

• In what ways does this “secular” / “sacred” division obfuscate other fruitful ways of approaching literature?

• Should works of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction be read as a way of doing theology?

• What are the “perils” and the “goods” that come from such an endeavor?

• What are the implications of our current moment as “post-secular” for Christianity and Literature?

• Other questions -- the CCL is open to proposals concerning the relationship of Christianity and literature.

Send abstracts (400-500 words) via email to Polly Peterson, at Or mail to: Polly Peterson George Fox University 414 N Meridian Newberg, OR 97132. Submission Deadline: November 1, 2017



Regional conferences have been at the heart of the Conference on Christianity and Literature from the beginning. Those scholarly conferences offer a window into the rich diversity of current scholarship on Christianity and literature. Regional conferences afford members an opportunity to learn from one another and to build networks of support for their scholarly and professional endeavors. They also offer an excellent opportunity for graduate students to gain valuable experience in presenting their research and writing.

For the themes and programs of past and recent regional conferences, please click on the regions below:








“Beauty and Exile: Negotiating, Exchanging, and Redeeming the Challenges”

March 30-April 1, 2017

Grove City College

Grove City, PA

Perhaps “the people of God” are always destined for exile? As if to be found one must first be lost? Geographic and existential, the paradox obtains: we are pilgrims in place, communities of sojourners. Alienating faith from reason, art from religion, and religion from the public square, the modern world has provided little welcome. But our post-secular age is increasingly appreciating how artists of faith have negotiated their precarious cultural positions and expressed beauty and truth in creative and relevant ways. As artist and writer Makoto Fujimura notes, it is precisely in encountering and transforming our suffering into “terrifying beauty” that we “know there is grace at the base of the universe.”  We are pleased to announce that Makoto Fujimura will offer his own ruminations on beauty and exile in his conference plenary address on Thursday evening, March 30. 

For the inaugural conference of the newly formed Eastern region, we seek paper submissions addressing these historical and cultural experiences of beautiful exile and exiled beauty. Papers may explore a range of questions:

  • For writers and poets, how does beauty arise in exile?
  • How are beautiful genres exiled, and possibly restored?
  • How do the aesthetics of language and literature shift among diaspora communities or individuals in exile?
  • What are some definitions of religious exile?
  • What connections (if any) might we draw between martyrdom and beauty?
  • What are various social and cultural causes of exile throughout the history of the church?
  • How have Christian communities and individuals chosen to negotiate their exile and to what effects?
  • How do experiences of marginalization inform our understanding of what is “beautiful”?
  • How does justice emerge in exile? Is there a beauty to justice?
  • What are the aesthetics of non-violence?
  • How do authors and texts adopt the figure of the “exile” or the “stranger” to speak into a particular cultural moment?

We are especially interested in interdisciplinary treatments of beauty and exile, and we invite submissions from kindred spirits in art, music, history, political science, biblical and religious studies, philosophy, and communication studies. 

Proposals from graduate and undergraduate students are most welcome. Presenters (other than undergraduate students) should be members in good standing of the Conference on Christianity and Literature.

Please send 400-500 word proposals or completed papers via email to Dr. Kristen Waha, ( Please note: Undergraduate proposals should be sent to Dr. Andrew Harvey, ( The submission deadline is January 20, 2017.



"See Rock City: The Power of Place as Origin, Home, or Destination"

April 6-8, 2017 

Covenant College 

Lookout Mountain, GA

The 2017 meeting of the Southeast Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature (SECCL) will be held at Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, GA—just up the mountain from Rock City!—on April 6-8, 2017.

Travelers in our region are accustomed to passing signs inviting them to “See Rock City.” The familiar signs provoke reactions ranging from nostalgia through tolerance to annoyance at the interruption of the landscape. Each of these reactions registers a sense of place and the importance place has for human beings. SECCL invites the submission of papers exploring the literary power of place understood or experienced as origin, home, or destination. Appropriate submissions might include papers on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which feature Rock City; they might also consider Wendell Berry’s Port William, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, Robert Frost’s New England, Shakespeare’s London (or his Venice); or they might focus on a journey such as Abraham’s or Odysseus’s or Bilbo Baggins’s “there and back again.”

Proposals from undergraduates and proposals for projects exploring other intersections between faith and literature are also welcome. Presenters should be members in good standing with the Conference on Christianity and Literature.

Please send 400-500 word abstracts or completed papers (preferably via email) to Dr. William Tate. The deadline to submit an abstract is Friday, January 20, 2017. (Completed papers will be due by Friday, February 24.) For further information contact Dr. Tate at