The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace:
Boredom and Addiction in an Age of Distraction
The publication of a new book on religion and literature, focusing on a contemporary writer, once again attests to the relevance of this field of study. In The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace: Boredom and Addiction in an Age of Distraction, Adam S. Miller selects key scenes from David Foster Wallace’s novels Infinite Jest and The Pale King, and gives insightful interpretations of their religious implications within the context of twenty-first-century American culture.
According to the publisher, “Wallace suggests that the practice of prayer (regardless of belief in God), the patient application of attention to things that seem ordinary and boring, and the internalization of clichés may be the antidote to much of what ails us in the 21st century.”
Please let us introduce you to a new member:
Annett Martini is a scholar of Jewish Studies. She received her PhD from the Freie Universität Berlin with a study on Yosef Gikatilla’s Sefer ha-niqqud (critical edition of the original Hebrew version and of Flavius Mithridates’ Latin translation) and is currently working as a research and teaching assistant (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at the Institute for Jewish Studies at Freie Universität Berlin.
Her research interests include Jewish philosophy and mysticism in the Middle Ages and in early modernity, and Christian kabbalah. Her current book project deals with Jewish and Christian conceptions of writing as a holy activity with a special emphasis on the dynamics of ritual practice, changes and interactions. An important aspect of the study will be the reflection of ritual writing within literature – both religious and secular.
In 2014 an international cohort of scholars formed the group “Religion, Ethics, and Literature,” which became a new research committee of the ICLA (International Comparative Literature Association). According to the ICLA website, the committee’s goal is “to identify points at which literature intersected with religion and ethics and to speculate on why these intersections offered productive areas of inquiry.”
The research committee has since posted call-for-papers for two upcoming major conferences on comparative literature. For the March 2016 ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) at Harvard University, it will organize the panel “The Subject Positions of Religion, Ethics, and Literature.” For the July 2016 ICLA conference at the University of Vienna, the research committee has three panel streams accepted. They are “The Ineffability of Language and Mystic Utterances,” “Secular Literary Texts and Sacred Exegesis,” and “The Text as Being: Ontologies of Redemption, Repair, and Regret.”
For more information, please visit the committee’s page on ICLA’s website:
We wish all of you a Happy Holiday Season and an inspiring New Year!
New Book on Religion and Literature:
The Pagan Writes Back: When World Religion Meets World Literature
World Literature, in its various formulations, continues to be the focus of current debates among scholars of Comparative Literature. At this stage it is a logical step to consider the specific problems that conceptions of World Literature present to cross-disciplinary areas of research; and there are probably few issues more urgently in need of cross-disciplinary dialogue and global attention than World Religion.
In this regard, Zhange Ni’s new book The Pagan Writes Back: When World Religion Meets World Literature comes as an especially timely publication. As the first book to discuss the two fields together explicitly, it proposes a “pagan criticism” that not only echoes, but also promises to update Edward Said’s “secular criticism,” in order to engage the current resurgence of religion worldwide through readings of World Literature, including works by Jewish-American, Canadian, Japanese, and Chinese authors. Read more…
Freie Universität Workshop:
“Cultural Transformations of Buddhism Today: Dynamics and Entanglements”
We would like to draw your attention to an upcoming workshop entitled “Cultural Transformations of Buddhism Today: Dynamics and Entanglements.” Co-organized by the Freie Universität Berlin and Peking University, the workshop will take place from December 10 to 12, 2015. An international cohort of scholars will meet to discuss diverse topics concerning the many contemporary reincarnations of Buddhism in Asia and beyond.
Of particular interest for our Holylit blog is the talk by Lin Jian from Peking University entitled “Monks in Pop Fictions: Their Interactions with the Mundane World.” In this talk Lin Jian will discuss Read more…
We would like to draw your attention to the upcoming conference “Lines in Sand: Borders, Conflicts and Transitions in
Religion, Literature and Culture,” which will take place at University of Glasgow, 9-11th September 2016.
Please find the conference announcement below. The call for papers will follow in due course, and we will update the information accordingly. More details are available at http://www.isrlc.org.
Lines in Sand
Borders, Conflicts and Transitions in Religion, Literature and Culture
The 18th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture
University of Glasgow, 9-11th September 2016.
Catherine Keller, Drew University. Author of: On The Mystery–Discerning God in Process, Cloud of the Impossible and Face of the Deep–A Theology of Becoming.
Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen. Author of: Lines–A Brief History, Being Alive and The Perception of the Environment.
The interdisciplinary study of religion, literature and culture demands living on the boundaries, constructing provisional positions, and questioning fixed and dogmatic attitudes. This is necessarily a political exercise, as well as an intellectual and spiritual one. It makes challenging demands upon scholarship, creativity and imagination. It calls us to transformative action. Read more…