Regional Director: Emily Griesinger, Azusa Pacific University
2014 Western Regional Conference
The Religious Turn: Secular and Sacred Engagements in Literature and Theory
Call for Papers: For the past decade or so, the academy has witnessed a turn to religion in literary studies, critical theory, and continental philosophy. Philosophers such as Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Slavoj Žižek have initiated a Pauline revival; Radical Orthodox theologians have promoted Christianity as the only alternative to a disenchanted modernity; and various scholars have challenged the Enlightenment's thesis of inevitable secularization, while revisiting Carl Schmitt's political theologies of sovereignty and exception. To what extent has the religious turn led to increased interfaith dialogue in literature and theory? How do literary interpretation, biblical exegesis, and historical contextualization respond to these new theological overtures? Can a new epistemology that merges reason and revelation be constructed? How do the secular and the sacred interpenetrate in literature? This conference invites papers that address various literary periods and that consider topics related to secular/sacred intersections, political theology, and interfaith dialogue in literature and theory, including (but not limited to) the following:
• literature that blurs the secular/sacred dichotomy
• incarnational and sacramental readings
• contrapuntal reading
• post-secularism in literature and theory
• reconsiderations of the secularization thesis in literature and theory
• suspicion of the hermeneutics of suspicion
• New Historicist and feminist responses to the religious turn
• hermeneutics of hope, charity, or hospitality
• theological aesthetics
• theories of gift-giving and sacrifice
• Badiou's concept of the Event (or his four truth procedures),
as applied to literature
• alternatives to Schmitt's political theology
We also welcome papers more broadly interested in the intersections of Christianity and literature, not just limited to the 20th- and 21st-century. Please email one-page abstracts and session proposals by December 1, 2013 to Dr. Kathryn Stelmach Artuso at firstname.lastname@example.org. Undergraduate students must submit their entire paper for consideration. We also invite poets and fiction writers, who are interested in these themes, to submit their work. Creative writers, please e-mail manuscripts for 5-10-minute contributions to a Circle of Readings by December 1, 2013 to Dr. Randy VanderMey at email@example.com.
2013 Western Regional Conference
The Company of Others: Literary Collaboration & the Common Good
Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California
May 16-18, 2013
Call for Papers: How do creative people—scholars, teachers, writers—begin and sustain work that transforms self and others for the common good? People of faith seeking understanding are admonished to "spur one another on to love and good deeds" in pursuit of God's redemptive purposes for all people and the renewal of all creation. What does that look like between writers and their literary mentors? How does it occur between teachers and students reading a common text or collaborating on a creative project, research presentation, or scholarly article? Where can we see it happening among scholars across disciplinary boundaries and/or writers in community? Finally, how do scholars and authors intentionally or unconsciously collaborate with the divine in their work, and what can we learn from their experiences that might encourage and inspire Christian writers, teachers, and scholars as they work for the common good?
- Diane Glancy, Azusa Pacific University, author of The Dream of a Broken Field (2011) and Pushing the Bear: After the Trail of Tears (2009)
- Joseph Bentz, Azusa Pacific University,author of Pieces of Heaven: Recognizing the Presence of God (2012) and A Son Comes Home (2007)
- Diana Glyer, Azusa Pacific University, author of Clay in the Potter's Hand (2011) and The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2007)
2012 Western Regional Conference
Belief and Unbelief in Postmodern Literature
Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington
May 24-25, 2012
Keynote Speakers: Amy Hungerford, Yale University, author of Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion since 1960 (Princeton, 2010); Kathryn Lofton, Yale University, author of Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon (University of California, 2011)
In recent years, the so-called “New Atheists”—Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—have taken up the cudgels against religious belief. At the same time, the “New Atheist Novel” (to borrow the title of Arthur Bradley and Andrew Tate’s new book) has made its debut as a genre, thanks to the efforts of sympathetic writers like Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, and Philip Pullman.
And yet religious belief is far from dead. Among the many contemporary manifestations of popular religion, there is the phenomenon of Oprah Winfrey and her congregation of faithful viewers—the subject of a new book by Kathryn Lofton. And Amy Hungerford has examined the nature of “postmodern belief” in the work of Allen Ginsberg, Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, and Toni Morrison, among other post-1960 writers.Through a Glass Darkly to be published
In May 2007, the Western Regional CCL was held at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, Canada. This event inspired conference organizers to produce an edited collection of twenty-five essays on intersections between suffering, the sacred, and the sublime in works from the classical period to the post-postmodern age. Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred, and the Sublime in Literature and Theory, edited by Holly Faith Nelson, Lynn R. Szabo, and Jens Zimmermann is scheduled was released by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in June 2010.
More information about this volume, including the Table of Contents, can be found at http://www.wlupress.wlu.ca/Catalog/nelson.shtml. As noted on that site, “this book will be of particular interest to scholars of religion and literature, philosophy and literature, aesthetic theory, and trauma studies.”2010 Western Regional Conference
“Thicker than Water?”: The Family in Literature and Culture
March 25-27, 2010
California Baptist University, Riverside, CA
More than 80 people attended the 2010 regional conference, and more than 60 papers and creative presentations were made during the weekend. Diana Pavlac Glyer and Gary D. Schmidt presented keynote speeches. Organizers noted that particpants included faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. Most came from Southern California, but some participants came from Tokyo, Hungary, Poland, Canada, the East Coast, Washington, Oregon, and Texas. For more information about the meeting, contact Laura Veltman at California Baptist University, Modern Languages and Literature Department, 8432 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA 92504.
2009 Western Regional Conference
"Speaking Truth to Power: The Literature of Assent and Dissent"
This conference was held April 16-18 at George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon. Papers and speakers examined the interface between literary studies and Christianity.
2008 Western Regional Conference
"Fire and Ice: Literary Paradox and the Search for Truth"
Almost 100 people, including about 30 undergraduate students, attended the 2008 conference at Biola University from May 15-17. Participants came from around the globe, including attendees or speakers from England, Japan, and Canada. Scott Cairns, Mark Knight, and Lauren Winner served as featured speakers at the event. Faculty artists from Biola's Art Department prefaced each keynote address with art related to the themes of the conference, adding a multidisciplinary air to the proceedings. The paper panels, ranging in topic from contemporary film to the inherent pitfalls of biographical writing to the role of devotion in George Herbert's poetry, were well attended and well received.
The 2009 Western Regional meeting will convene at George Fox University from April 17-19 with the theme, "Speaking Truth to Power: The Literature of Assent and Dissent."
2007 Western Regional Conference
Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred and the Sublime
Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia,
May 10-12, 2007
The conference was successful in terms of attracting six engaging and intellectually rigorous keynote speakers (David Lyle Jeffrey, Richard Kearney, Jens Zimmermann, Maxine Hancock, Lynn Szabo, and Erica Grimm-Vance), of securing 92 other very good speakers from forty-five different institutions, and of ensuring thta almost all of the panels were very well attended. Many of the panels had an audience of 25, and no panel had fewer than seven audience members. Ninety-seven percent of participants who responded to the post-conference survey indicated they had a very good overall experience at the conference; 84% felt that the quality of the papers presented was superior, and 97% felt that the keynote speakers significantly contributed to the value of their experience of the conference and its theme.
The 2008 Western Regional conference will be held at Biola University.
Holly Faith Nelson