Friday, December 16, 2011
The International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture (ISRLC) is hosting its 16th biennial conference from Oct 19-21 2012 at the Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference theme is “Cultures of Transition: Presence, Absence, Memory” and here’s the Call for Papers:
Today, culture is largely understood to be in transition. While national, regional, religious and local cultures had previously been described, in their various forms, as more or less stable entities, they are now increasingly perceived as determined by developments, influences, changes and conflicts related to secularisation, industrialisation, globalisation, migrations of various kinds, and many other politico-economic, cultural and religious forces. From this perspective, culture takes shape by processes in constant flux, as it negotiates between the presence of new conditions, values, ideas and beliefs on the one hand, and the presence of previously dominant ones on the other.
Individual as well as group identities have come under these pressures of transition, and as a result the notion of memory has taken on increasingly central significance: individual and collective memory provide connections and perform functions that are both indispensable and problematic in processes of identity formation, as manifested in literary, religious, philosophical and other conceptual and imaginative forms of expression.
The ISRLC 2012 conference at the University of Copenhagen will address questions concerning religion, literature, the arts and theory within cultures in and of transition:
- In what ways do ‘experiences of presence’ and ‘experiences of absence’ carry and convey meaning in such cultures?
- What is the role of memory in such manifestations as literature, film, music, etc., as well as in ideas of invisible religious mediation?
- To what extent is existential meaning bound to experiences of ‘presence’ as opposed to ‘absence’?
- In what way does memory mediate between these experiences of ‘presence’ and ‘absence’?
- What types of hope and fear prompt visions of the future?
- To what extent are religion and the arts necessary for individual and collective identity in periods of transition and migration?
Proposals for papers should be sent directly to the specific panel convenor, which in my case will either be Modern Theology or Continental Philosophy and Religion (for panel convenors’ contact details see the ISRLC website). As usual, I’m not sure where my work would fit best! At the last ISRLC conference, “Attending to the Other,” my proposal was accepted by the Modern Theology panel, and it may well be the case that that’s the best fit again this year. I’ll see what my proposal looks like as it emerges and then decide who to send it to! I’ve highlighted in the following panel Calls where I’m most interested in taking my proposal this year.
Modern Theology (panel convenor Trevor Hart)
The panel welcomes proposals for papers on any topic relevant to the conference theme, and especially in the following areas:
- Christology - the Incarnation as a peculiar locus and mode of God’s presence to the world and its history; Incarnation, particularity and universal signifiance; the promised presence of the Risen Lord to the church.
- God - the ‘elusive presence’ (Terrien) of God depicted in biblical traditions, and its implications for developing a contemporary theology of God’s presence/absence; problems of identifying God’s presence and activity in the world.
- Pneumatology - the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as a natural locus for exploring issues of divine presence and absence; the presence of the Spirit as the hallmark of the community of faith.
- Scripture - the Bible as the church’s ‘founding text’ and primary authority for faith and life in every cultural context; appeals to ‘revelation,’ and issues of language and theological hermeneutics.
- Tradition - forms of Christian tradition as bearers of identity across time and space; the relationship between Scripture, tradition and context; the roles of the arts as forms of Christian tradition.
- Sacrament - the Eucharist, anamnesis and expectation; models of eucharistic presence; contemporary theological appeals to a wider notion of ‘sacramentality’ (e.g. in forms of nature, in culture and the arts) in pursuit of an account of divine presence available to be experienced beyond the boundaries of the church and its forms of life.
- Eschatology - presence and promise; memory and hope as imaginative dispositions that shape and orientate the believer’s present; the particular significance of these dispositions in sustaining faith through experiences of absence and godforsakenness.
Abstracts of no more than 300 words to Trevor Hart before 31 March 2012.
Continental Philosophy and Religion (panel convenors Andrew Haas and Dan Whistler)
But, my friend, we have come too late. Though the gods are living,
Over our heads they live, up in a different world.
(Holderlin, Brot und Wein)
Holderlin’s experience of religious absence, of living in a world made destitute by the flight of the divine, resonates in the work of Schelling, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sarter, Derrida, and Nancy, among other European thinkers. More generally, presence and absence - ‘what is there’ and ‘what is not there’ - orient many of the major conceptual pairs of modern philosophy: being and nothingness, affirmation and negation, immanence and transcendence, critique and speculation, logocentrism and deconstruction, male and female, etc.
The panel invites submissions that rethink and re-evaluate these philosophical binaries or apply them, in modulated or problematic ways, to the themes and practices of and within religion and art.
We especially welcome submissions that interrogate the modes of transition (dialectical or otherwise) between presence, absence and their corollaries.
Abstracts of 300 words to both Andrew Haas and Dan Whistler by 31 March 2012.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days about my post-doc research project (in view of submitting my proposal to the University of Edinburgh) and I think this conference would be a great platform for discussing my initial ideas. I’ll post again about this as I start to rework my proposal and make more explicit the ways I think it might fit with the conference theme.