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New ICLA research committee on “Religion, Ethics, and Literature”

January 24, 2016

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:


Happy Holiday Season

December 25, 2015

photo by verena

We wish all of you a Happy Holiday Season and an inspiring New Year!

New Book on Religion and Literature

December 22, 2015

New Book on Religion and Literature:

The Pagan Writes Back: When World Religion Meets World Literature

Pagan book cover

by kind permission of the publisher

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…

Cultural Transformations of Buddhism Today

November 18, 2015

Freie Universität Workshop:

“Cultural Transformations of Buddhism Today: Dynamics and Entanglements”

Dear Colleagues,

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…

Borders, Conflicts and Transitions in Religion, Literature and Culture

October 11, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

photo by Roger Griffith

photo by Roger Griffith

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


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.

Keynote Speakers:
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…

Holy Hero(in)es

September 15, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

We hope you are all enjoying a pleasant and productive summer! Please find below the announcement for a particularly interesting conference, which aims to present methods, concepts, and theoretical approaches for studying hagiographical accounts specifically as literary texts.

Holy Hero(in)es. Literary Constructions of Heroism in Late Antique and Early Medieval Hagiography

International conference at Ghent University (Belgium), Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th February 2016

Confirmed keynote speaker: Prof. dr. Stephanos Efthymiadis (Open University of Cyprus)

The ERC research group Novel Saints (Ghent University) builds on and contributes to a recent trend in scholarship of studying late antique and early medieval hagiography (4th-12th cent.) as literature. We welcome paper proposals for our first, international conference, which will deal with literary constructions of characters as hero(in)es in different types of late antique and early medieval hagiographical narrative (Lives, Martyr Acts, hagiographical romances, etc.). We envisage contributions on hagiography from different linguistic traditions (Latin, Greek, Syriac, Georgian, Coptic, Armenian, Persian and Arabic). Read more…

Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, and the Philology of the Flesh

September 2, 2015

Dear Colleagues and Friends,


John Hamilton

We would like to call attention to Professor John Hamilton’s upcoming graduate seminar at Harvard University. The readings offer a broad historical overview of theories of interpretation from Martin Luther to Hans-Georg Gadamer and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, with specific focus on metaphors of incarnation, embodiment, and revelation. In tracking the shift from interpretation as an auxiliary art to hermeneutics as a philosophical universal, literary texts broach questions concerning theories of the verbal sign, understanding, self-consciousness, phenomenology, and the human condition—all in relation to the theological paradigms that have persistently motivated and shaped these investigations. How should understanding be understood? Read more…