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.
Presentations can be in the form of an academic conference paper or a creative presentation on topics that include, but are not limited to, literary creation conversing with
• the work of conservation: ecology, creation theology, contemplative and active practices of creation care
• the work of honoring First Nations or Indigenous ways of knowing and ways of life
• the work of cultivating words: exemplars, strategies, practices of language stewardship
• the work of social justice: remembrance, lament, protest, reconciliation
• the work of the Inklings: Christian imagination and cultural criticism, mythopoesis, literary community
• the work of liturgy: sacred services, sacrament, spiritual practices
• the work of God: grace, transformation, restoring all things in Christ
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.
Proposal submissions: E-mail to Dr. Katharine Bubel at email@example.com an abstract of no more than 300 words for an individual presentation or a group panel session by the **new ** deadline of November 30, 2023.
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 https://www.christianityandliterature.com/Awards-and-Grants
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:
Literature and Life Writing
Midwest Regional Meeting of the Conference on Christianity and Literature
October 23-24, 2023
This conference brings together scholars of Christianity and literature with contemporary writers of spiritual memoir to celebrate religious life writing and consider the forms, features, and thematic possibilities within the range of associated genres. How do literary works and forms shape portrayals of spiritual life? What might literature accomplish in the spiritual life within writer and reader? How might the literary space of religiously inflected life writing offer particular theological content?
This conference will involve traditional panels, creative readings of spiritual autobiographies, and student panels, as well as a scholarly keynote. Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend readings and large public talks by several contemporary spiritual memoir writers, including Esau McCaulley, author of the forthcoming memoir How Far to the Promised Land?, Daniel Nayeri, award-winning author of Everything Sad is Untrue, and Beth Moore, author of All My Knotted Up Life who will be on campus that week.
The scholarly keynote will be given by Jeffrey W. Barbeau (Ph.D., Marquette University), professor of theology at Wheaton College, editor of The Coleridge Bulletin, and a writer on British Romanticism, religion and literature, and the history of Christian thought. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism and Religion (2021) and Religion in Romantic England: An Anthology of Primary Sources (2018).
Possible topics include the following:
- problems in genre: spiritual memoir/spiritual autobiography/spiritual life writing
- periodization of religious life writing
- traditions/inheritance in spiritual life writing
- trends in contemporary spiritual life writing
- portrayal of the divine in spiritual life writing
- children’s literature and/as spiritual life writing
- confession, failure, hamartiology in spiritual life writing
- social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Substack) and spiritual life writing
- celebrity/publicity/the public square and spiritual life writing
- race and spiritual life writing
- the morphology of conversion (or deconversion) in spiritual life writing
- private writings/unpublished autobiographical material
- fictional spiritual life writing
- politics of religious life writing
- religious life writing as theory/theology
- poetic genres and spiritual life writing
- gender within spiritual life writing
- literary epigraphs and allusions within spiritual life writing
- biblical form and language in religious life writing
- emplottedness within religious life writing
- development and decline in religious life writing
- “deconstruction” (or deconstruction!) and spiritual life writing
- visions, transcendence, and the miraculous within spiritual life writing
- sentiment and emotion in spiritual life writing
- narratives of enslavement and/as spiritual life writing
- rhetorics of spiritual autobiography
- ethical pitfalls within spiritual life writing
- portraying others’ lives/portraying one’s own life in spiritual life writing
- the individual and the church/community of faith in spiritual life writing
As always, the Midwest CCL is open to other proposals concerning the relationship of Christianity and literature, including panel proposals. 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.
Send abstracts (200-400 words) via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 7, 2023. Panel proposals welcome. Accepted abstracts/panels will be notified promptly. Participants in the conference must be members of the Conference on Christianity and Literature.
Southeast Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature
Charleston Southern University
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Susan Felch, Professor Emerita, Calvin University
My [kitchen, syllabus] is a disaster. [Higher ed, the planet] faces impending disaster. [The responsible party of your choice] bungled the disaster response. We frequently invoke the word “disaster” to convey a sense of magnitude but also to imply events beyond our control. Questions of agency lie embedded in the word’s etymology—maybe it’s the stars’ fault—and yet we seem to believe that human response is possible and perhaps even imperative. Among the many possible responses to various disasters over the millennia, the literary offers the opportunity to slow down, to examine what has happened and what may be salvaged—and to develop and practice Christian virtues.
Conference participants will ponder these themes with keynote speaker Dr. Susan Felch (Renaissance and Reformation scholar and co-author of Teaching and the Christian Imagination). We invite papers that consider literary responses to disasters past, present, and future (the “after” in the conference title is mostly there for assonance). Possible topics include but are not limited to:
• Lament and other biblical genres depicting and responding to disaster
• Plague, famine, and fire in literature
• Cli-fi (climate fiction)
• Ethical and aesthetic limitations of depicting disaster, whether personal or public
• Interpreting and/or memorializing disaster in its aftermath
• Theodicy and other theological responses to disaster
• Agency in disaster prevention, experience, or response
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 August 1, 2023, to Dr. Carissa Turner Smith, email@example.com. 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.