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Seminar on the Poet and Literary Critic’s Relationship with Religion

June 25, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

As the summer break approaches, we hope that you have already begun – or are about to begin – a relaxing and productive time. For our June posting we would like to draw your attention to an event devoted to the study of religion and literature. Every summer the Institute of English Studies at the University of London hosts the T. S. Eliot Summer School. This year’s academic program includes, among other exciting events, a seminar on the poet and literary critic’s relationship with religion. Led by Professor Robert Crawford, this seminar will concentrate on four poems written in the years around Eliot’s reception into the Church of England: ‘The Hollow Men’, ‘Journey of the Magi’, ‘A Song for Simeon’, and Ash-Wednesday. They will be augmented by readings of some of Eliot’s essays with related focuses. More information about the seminar and the summer school can be found here.

New Translations of Poems by Three Buddhist Monks

May 9, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to recommend a recently published translation of poems by three Chinese monks of the Tang Dynasty. The Poetry of Hanshan (Cold Mountain), Shide, and Fenggan is published in De Gruyter’s “Library of Chinese Humanities” series. The translator is Paul Rouzer, a specialist in poetics and poetry of China and Japan, Buddhism, and traditions of the supernatural in East Asia.

This legendary trio of monk-recluse-poets has enjoyed a popular afterlife both in China and abroad. Hanshan (Cold Mountain) in particular is a beloved figure in Japan, where he is also known as Kanzan. In America, these poets are icons of counterculture. Gary Snyder, among others, translated Hanshan into English. Upon Snyder’s suggestion, Jack Kerouac dedicated The Dharma Bums to Hanshan.

The present edition brings together all the extant poems composed by these monks, providing English translations alongside the original Chinese. A pdf version can be downloaded for free from here.

American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting

April 29, 2017
American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting
Universiteit Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Dear all,

We hope your academic semesters have been going well! Now looking ahead to the summer, we would like to call your attention to the Annual Convention of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), to be held in the Netherlands at Universiteit Utrecht 6–9 July 2017.

The meeting includes a number of seminars related to religion and literature. Some of them also use literary expression of religious ideas or experiences to address other disciplines, including “Religion, Translation and Modern Literatures: Mapping Cross-cultural Circulation and Influences,” “Literatures of Heterodoxy and Cultural Change,” “Utopian Imagination and South Asia in Comparative Perspective,” “The Many Redemptions of Literature, Part 1: The ‘Sense’ of Redemption,” and “The Many Redemptions of Literature, Part 2: Redemptive Though.” The last two seminars are sponsored by the ICLA Research Committee on Religion, Ethics, and Literature.

Information about schedule and program information can be found at the ACLA website.




Poetic Revelations

March 14, 2017
New Book in Religion and Literature
Poetic Revelations: Word Made Flesh Made Word: The Power of the Word III

Dear Colleagues,

When considering the study of religion and literature, the relationship between language and the body is a topic that merits special attention. In many religions, the transcendental is made accessible to the mundane world through words, which thus endows language with a divine quality. Yet, the word itself, when manifested in the human voice, is not only embodied, but also culturally specific and individually unique. The Word becomes a site where the transcendental and the corporeal meet.

A recent publication on this topic is therefore particularly welcomed: Poetic Revelations: Word Made Flesh Made Word: The Power of the Word III, edited by Mark S. Burrows, Jean Ward, and Małgorzata Grzegorzewska, published by Routledge. According to the publisher, “The central thematic focus is around a ‘phenomenology of the flesh’ as that which connects us with the world, being the site of perception and feeling, joy and suffering, and of life itself in all its vulnerability.” This collection of essays centers on the function of poetry as revelatory discourses in relation to Incarnation, and thereby makes a timely contribution to an important and fruitful intersection in the study of religion and literature.

Global Reformations: Religion and the Making of the Modern World

February 15, 2017

Dear Colleagues,


Martin Luther’s 1534 Bible translated into German (Torsten Schleese 1999, PD)

2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a consequential event that started in Wittenberg, Germany and spread throughout Europe, having a profound impact on world history. From a global perspective, reform is not unique to Christianity, but has also been a preoccupation for other religions. In order to address the broad topic of reform, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is hosting a conference on “Global Reformations: Religion and the Making of the Modern World,” which asks: “Did religions across regions of the globe experience a synchronic series of reformations integral to their entry into the modern age?”

As religious leaders and scholars alike reflect Read more…

Two New Companions to Literature and Religion

January 15, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

As the new year has arrived, the HolyLit team would like to wish everyone a very happy and fulfilling 2017! For our first posting of the New Year, we are delighted to introduce to you a double bill of recently published Companions to Literature and Religion by Cambridge and Routledge. The different approaches of both volumes serve to make an interesting comparison, while indicating diverse ways that have shaped this field in recent years.

The structure of the Cambridge Companion, edited by Susan M. Felch, is itself inspiring. The book is divided into three sections, the first two of which, “Reading Practices” and “Intersections,” offer insightful ways to bridge disciplines and bring together a variety of issues. As a result, these methodological innovations clearly show the advantages in combining the study of religion and literature. Read more…

Rhetorics of Religion in American Fiction: Faith, Fundamentalism, and Fanaticism in the Age of Terror

December 15, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to share with you a new book on religion and literature by Liliana M. Naydan, Rhetorics of Religion in American Fiction: Faith, Fundamentalism, and Fanaticism in the Age of Terror. It brings the study of religion and literature to bear upon a most current and pressing issue, namely belief in the post-9/11 Age of Terror. In view of the many violent events that have shaken contemporary society, it comes as no surprise that American authors have felt called upon to respond to them in their writing. Analyzing fictional works by Mohsin Hamid, Laila Halaby, Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, John Updike, and Barbara Kingsolver, Naydan argues that these authors function as “literary theologians of sorts” and “forge a relevant space beyond or between extremes.” As we continue to foster the study of religion and literature, it becomes increasingly urgent for us to consider the role this study plays (or could play) in debates over secularism, atheism, faith, fundamentalism, and fanaticism in the wake of 9/11. Naydan’s book represents an exemplary effort in contributing to such debates.