Theme: ALIENS AND ALLIES
2023 Southwest Conference on Christianity and Literature
Baylor University, Waco TX
September 21-23, 2023
To speak of our historical moment as one of great cultural upheaval is trite understatement, to be sure. Ours, however, is not merely an age of change; it is a period of ongoing change. The “unprecedented” has been normalized. Crisis and scandal and outrage all have become de rigueur, the “new normal,” of our disorienting change. In the midst of this tumult and change, human relationships have been transformed. The Conference on Christianity and Literature exists, in part, to explore “the relationships between Christianity and literature” in hopes of discovering how one might, as the psalmist wrote, “sing the songs of the Lord/while in a foreign land.” Or, to borrow from Robert Frost, perhaps literature in a fallen world (would it exist in any other kind of world?) is one of humanity’s efforts to address the question of “what to make of a diminished thing.” The psalmist who longs for a particular homeland, the poet who abides in exile—these paradigmatic voices echo and resound in our age. In light of this reality, the 2023 SWCCL conference theme is Aliens and Allies.
Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:
• Christianity, literature, and homecoming
• literature as advocacy
• war and literature
• pilgrimage and place
• art and propaganda
• story in an age of narrative collapse
• art and freedom
• Christian friendship
• literature as a mode of knowing
• defending the defenseless
• Christianity, literature, and the scandal of particularity
• poetics and/vs. rhetoric
• Christianity, politics, and the Kingdom of God
• political freedom and Christian freedom
• Christianity, literature, and hospitality
As always, SWCCL is open to other proposals concerning the relationship of Christianity and literature, including panel proposals and creative works. Readings of original poetry and fiction will be considered. Graduate students accepted to the conference are encouraged to apply for the CCL Travel Grant. Strong proposals from undergraduates, for a special undergraduate panel, are also encouraged. Undergraduates must submit their entire paper for consideration; eligible papers will be entered into the national CCL Undergraduate Writing Contest for a cash prize and publication on the CCL website.
Dr Lori Branch (University of Iowa)
Dr Branch is the author of Rituals of Spontaneity: Sentiment and Secularism from Free Prayer to Wordsworth (Baylor University Press, 2007), winner of the Christianity and Literature Book of the Year Award 2007, and of the forthcoming books Postsecular Reason: A Manifesto, and The Violation of God: Masculinity and Secularism in the Enlightenment. She is editor of the monograph series Literature, Religion, and Postsecular Studies for Ohio State University Press. Her keynote address will be entitled, “Religion and Secularism: Postsecular Allies?”
Dr Natalie Carnes (Baylor University)
Dr Carnes is the author of Motherhood: A Confession (Stanford University Press, 2020); Image and Presence: A Christological Reflection on Iconoclasm and Iconophilia (Stanford University Press, 2017); and Beauty: A Theological Engagement with Gregory of Nyssa (Cascade Books, 2014). Currently, she is working on a project that explores intersections of poverty, aesthetics, luxury, and art, pursuing the question: What is the place of art in a world of poverty and suffering? Her keynote address will be entitled, “The Artist as Ascetic: How the Denials and Excesses of Art Witness to Christian Hope”.
Please e-mail a one-paragraph abstract for an individual presentation or a one-paragraph abstract for a group panel session by June 15, 2023 to email@example.com
Stephen Barnes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Toby Coley, email@example.com
Luke Ferretter, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynne Hinojosa, email@example.com
Moisés Park, firstname.lastname@example.org
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. The conference invites presentations and conversations exploring the relations among literature and conservation, of serving together creatively to keep and pass on what has been given to us. Our topic is intentionally broad to encourage engagement across historical periods and genres. We invite professors, graduate and undergraduate students, and scholars from multiple disciplines.
“A large, almost sacramental sense of the import and efficacy of words can be found in early English usage, where . . . to converse was to foster community, to commune with, to dwell in a place with others. Conversation was understood to be a life-sustaining practice, a blessing, and a craft to be cultivated for the common good.” – Marilyn McEntyre
Our keynote speaker:
Marilyn McEntyre’s teaching and writing focuses on topics including American literature, medical humanities, literature and the natural world, portraiture and character in literature and art, and approaches to autobiography. Her many articles and books include Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies and Speaking Peace in a Climate of Conflict. She leads retreats and writing workshops and is deeply interested in the connections among spirituality, language, and healing.
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, literary creation conversing with
- the work of conservation: ecology, creation theology, contemplative/active practices of creation care
- the work of dwelling: sacred, secular/post-secular accounts of place, pilgrimage, migration, exile, reinhabitation
- 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 recovery: re/discovering forgotten or marginalized voices
- the work of empathy: emotion and affect, caregiving, accounts of suffering, grief, illness
- the work of social justice: remembrance, lament, protest, reconciliation
- the work of the Inklings: Christian imagination and cultural criticism, mythopoeisis, literary community
- the work of liturgy: sacred services, sacrament, spiritual practices
- the work of God: grace, transformation, restoring all things in Christ
Proposal submissions: E-mail an abstract of no more than 300 words for an individual presentation or a group panel session by November 1, 2023, to Dr. Katharine Bubel at 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 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.