ConVersing/ConServing: Care, Creation, Communion

2024 West Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature


May 9-11, 2024

Trinity Western University

22500 University Drive

Langley, BC Canada V2Y 1Y1


In Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, our conference keynote speaker Marilyn McEntyre presents literary art and the study of literature as a form of stewardship. Caring for words is akin, she says, to environmental concern and action, for we hold both language and the land in common. We invite presentations and conversations exploring the relations between literature and conservation, of serving together creatively to keep and pass on what has been given to us. Our theme is intentionally broad as we seek to encourage and celebrate the creation, interpretation, and appreciation of literature from across historical periods and genres. We welcome professors, graduate and undergraduate students from within the discipline of literary studies, as well as scholars from other disciplines who engage with the theme.

Our keynote speaker: Marilyn McEntyre teaches and writes on topics including literature and the natural world and relations among spirituality, language, and healing.

Other special guests include: Loren Wilkinson, professor emeritus, Regent College and expert in Christian environmental ethics and earthkeeping. Leah Kostamo, Spiritual Care Counselor and co-founder of A Rocha Canada.

For conference website click here.

Undergraduate students must submit their entire paper for consideration; eligible undergraduate papers will be entered into the national CCL Undergraduate Writing Contest for a cash prize and publication on the CCL website. Graduate students are encouraged to apply for the CCL Travel Grant. For more details on these undergraduate and graduate opportunities, visit 



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 graduate students an opportunity to gain valuable experience presenting at conferences.

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









"Growing Younger": Literature and Child-like Faith

Southeast Regional Meeting of the Conference on Christianity and Literature

Covenant College

Lookout Mountain, GA

October 10-12, 2024

Keynote Speaker: Malcolm Guite (Poet and President of the George MacDonald Society)

To commemorate the bicentenary of George MacDonald--the nineteenth-century Scottish novelist, fantasist, theologian, and poet--this conference welcomes papers pertaining to his life, work, and legacy. More broadly, we invite papers that explore motifs of childlikeness, particularly as they relate to faith and imagination. MacDonald’s children’s stories, such as The Princess and the Goblin, The Golden Key, and The Light Princess, remain a favorite with fantasy readers of all ages, and MacDonald insists that he writes not “for children, but for the childlike, whether of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.” In fact, his interest in childlikeness pervades his creative and theological output, resurfacing in his realistic fiction, essays, and elsewhere. Human hearts, he recommends, “should always be growing younger.”

The child is a complexly evocative figure in scripture, literature, and culture. Christ exhorts his disciples to become like little children, and scripture abounds with imagery of God’s people as beloved, obedient, and dependent children. Conversely, Proverbs recommends strategies for curbing childish folly, and Paul encourages the Corinthians to put aside childish ways. While literature sometimes romanticizes childhood as a time of innocence, imagination, and endless potential, it also depicts the vulnerability, waywardness, and ignorance of children. Bildungsromane focus on the transition from childhood to adulthood as both a linear and a recursive process. Young Adult fiction enjoys popularity among adult readers, but suffers criticism from the literary elite. Narratives of secularization often characterize dissociation from religion as a cultural coming of age, while postsecularity might be construed as a return to former openness. Humans, it seems, wrestle with simultaneous desires for maturity and for childlikeness, and such internal conflict constitutes a suggestive analogue to the interplay between doubt and faith. Literature offers a medium for this wrestling, as well as imaginative alternatives to the false dichotomy between maturity and childlikeness. We welcome papers and creative works 

  • George MacDonald’s novels, fairy tales, poetry, sermons, essays, etc.
  • MacDonald’s Romantic precursors, literary peers, or twentieth and twenty-first-century successors (for instance, the Inklings) 
  • Children’s literature and literary depictions of childhood
  • The role of literature in child rearing, pedagogy, or spiritual formation 
  • Bildungsroman narratives
  • Fantasy and mythopoesis
  • Themes of rebirth and restoration
  • Sacred, secular, and post-secular accounts of childhood and maturation
  • Retrospective, recursive, or otherwise non-linear narratives
  • The competition, coexistence, and/or conversation between faith and doubt
  • The role of liturgy as return and renewal
  • Recovery: literature that bestows fresh or clarified vision; literature that recovers lost or marginalized voices; literature that anticipates new creation

Other proposals concerning the relationship of Christianity and literature, including panel proposals and creative works, are welcome. Presenters should be members of the Conference on Christianity and Literature by the time of the conference.

Submit abstracts of 250-300 words by July 15, 2024, to Dr. Heather Hess, Undergraduate students must submit their entire paper for consideration; eligible undergraduate papers will be entered into the national CCL Undergraduate Writing Contest for a cash prize. Graduate students accepted to the conference are encouraged to apply for the CCL Conference Travel Grant.



Complicity and Hope in Wendell Berry's Membership

East Regional Meeting of the Conference on Christianity and Literature

Grove City College

Grove City, PA

February 21-22, 2025

Keynote Speaker: Andrew Peterson (author and musician) 

This conference marks the fiftieth anniversary of one of the more significant events in the life of Wendell Berry’s fictional Port William community: the loss of Andy Catlett’s right hand to a mechanized corn picker. This may seem an odd episode to inspire a conference, but as the autobiographical character in Berry’s fiction, Andy Catlett’s life story and tragic accident offer a way to consider the central drama of Berry’s imaginative work. Unlike Andy, Berry himself has the full use of both his hands, which invites readers to consider why he would narrate Andy’s life history in this way. As Andy reflects in “Dismemberment” on the meaning of this loss, he comes to the conclusion that the machine took his hand “as the price of admission into the rapidly mechanizing world that as a child he had not foreseen and as a man did not like, but which he would have to live in, understanding it and resisting it the best he could, for the rest of his life.” This sense of inescapable complicity haunts Andy: 

And so the absence of his right hand has remained with him as a reminder. His most real hand, in a way, is the missing one, signifying to    him not only his continuing need for ways and devices to splice out his right arm, but also his and his country’s dependence upon the    structure of industrial commodities and technologies that imposed itself upon, and contradicted in every way, the sustaining structures of the natural world and its human memberships. And so he is continually reminded of his incompleteness within himself, within the terms and demands of his time and its history, but also within the constraints and limits of his kind, his native imperfection as a human being, his failure to be as attentive, responsible, grateful, loving, and happy as he ought to be. He has spent most of his life in opposing violence, waste, and destruction—or trying to, his opposition always fragmented and made painful by his complicity in what he opposes.

Andy’s missing hand becomes a perpetual reminder of central questions that we all must live with: How do we imagine our complicity in and responsibility for systemic evils? How do we respond to our failure to live up to our ideals? How do we make do as maimed members of wounded communities? Christians have long wrestled with what it means to dwell on earth as exiles, and Berry’s writings offer us ways of living with this longing for a home and a wholeness that we know can never be realized on this side of the new creation. 

In keeping with the tenor of Berry’s writings, we welcome papers from disciplines beyond English (e.g. history, theology, philosophy, political science, ecology, music, visual arts, etc.), and we prefer papers that avoid what Hannah Coulter calls the “Unknown Tongue” of stilted academic writing. Papers might address

•    Any topic related to the writings of Wendell Berry
•    Writers from the many communities that Berry has belonged to: Kentucky writers, writers who studied with Wallace Stegner at Stanford, members of the Temenos circle, etc.
•    Literary responses to these questions from across history, particularly from those whom Berry has turned to for guidance: Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, the Romantics, Thoreau, and others
•    Authors from other places or times who consider related questions of complicity, despair, and hope
•    Issues related to the genre of fictionalized autobiography
•    Agrarian, regional, or local literature
•    Representations of nostalgia and exile
•    Considerations of the interactions between local and global
•    Ways of imagining the relationship between our present condition and the eschaton

The conference will take place on February 21 and 22, 2025 at Grove City College. Andrew Peterson will give a keynote address and an evening concert. 

Submit 250-word abstracts to Jeff Bilbro ( by December 1, 2024. Undergraduate students must submit their entire paper for consideration; eligible undergraduate papers will be entered into the national CCL Undergraduate Writing Contest for a cash prize and publication on the CCL website. Graduate students are encouraged to apply for the CCL Travel Grant. For more details on these undergraduate and graduate opportunities, visit