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New Book by Eric Ziolkowski – Religion and Literature: History and Method (Brill, 2019)

October 8, 2020

Eric Ziolkowski’s Religion and Literature: History and Method (Brill, 2019) provides a comprehensive and thoughtful assessment of the theoretical issues and approaches that have informed the study of the dynamic interrelationships among religious traditions, theological institutions and literary practices. As the Helen H. P. Manson Professor of Bible at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, Ziolkowski draws from decades of teaching and research experience to offer key insights into persistent themes in the field, including the dual aspects of religious texts as both sacred documents and literary works, the validity and limits of any definition of “religion,” the achievements of myth criticism and bible reception histories, as well as the determinant forces of institutionalization, internationalization, globalization, and pluralism.

In this way, Ziolkowski greatly expands the scope of the field, which Anton Bierl has defined as “the method of using religious materials for the comprehensive interpretation of literary texts,” emphasizing “the productive interdependence of religious studies and literature” and addressing “the question of how the subjects of religious studies can serve as a set of heuristic tools for understanding the structure and meaning of literary works in a historically appropriate way” (cited on p. 2). To what extent does “religion and literature” constitute a discrete discipline or field of study? And where precisely should it situate itself in the modern university system? Ziolkowski’s careful review of the specific histories and methodologies makes a vital step towards responding to these fundamental issues.

Literature and Humanities Calls for Papers on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania

September 30, 2020

Hello everyone,

In case you are not familiar yet with the Call for Papers website of the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania, you find the link here. The website is provided as a courtesy to the academic community, welcomes all kinds of literature and humanities calls for papers and has a very useful section on religion. If you have not come across it yet, it is definitely worth a visit, particularly for everyone interested in the study of interrelationships between religious traditions and literary traditions, both oral and written, on a global scale.

Secularism and Hermeneutics: New Book by Yael Almog

August 28, 2020

In her monograph, Secularism and Hermeneutics (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), Yael Almog (Department of Theology, Goethe University, Frankfurt) offers a compelling account of the development of textual interpretation between the years 1750 and 1850 as reliant on earlier models of biblical exegesis. Almog marks the shift from a religiously motivated practice grounded in the private sphere of confessional belonging to secular approaches that are driven by literary education and scholarship. In doing so, she discloses the many tensions and overlaps that occur between literary criticism and faith-based reading, while attending to the latent political ramifications throughout. As David Sorkin (Yale University) writes: Almog “convincingly shows through original and detailed studies of such figures as Herder, Mendelssohn, Heine, Hegel, and Schleiermacher that the emergence of a new aesthetics derived from changing interpretations of the Old Testament and that, in turn, the advent of a new ‘reader’ was constitutive for the appearance of a new citizen.” A highly nuanced reassessment of the secularization thesis, Almog’s work provides fresh and intriguing opportunities to explore the deep-seated relationships between religious and literary sensibilities.

Current Issue of JRFM on «Religion and Science Fiction» and CfP on «The Materiality of Writing. Books in Religious Traditions»

June 3, 2020

Dear all,

We are pleased to inform you about the release of the current issue of JRFM, the Journal for Religion, Film and Media ( The thematic section of this issue deals with the manifold and fascinating interactions between «Religion and Science Fiction». It shows us, how often sci-fi deals with questions, which are essential for almost all religious traditions, and it helps us understand why so many people are attracted to sci-fi films: In sci-fi we explore far universes and use yet unknown technologies, in sci-fi the world we know is left behind. But, although the technical devices are impressive and the science advances in huge steps, the protagonists we identify with still search for God or transcendence. — Please, take a look at this precious issue of JRFM. For a first glance, you may want to refer to the short overview here! For further reading you may go to the journal’s website.

Please, take also a look at the exciting Call for Papers on «The Materiality of Writing. Books in Religious Traditions.» In this issue of JRFM, the religious role and significance of writing, books and scripture are discussed by focusing on their materiality and visuality. The journal welcomes contributions dealing with writing as a material activity and books as objects. The articles published in this issue will contribute to the reflection on questions like: How can the materiality of religious books be interpreted? – How does the materiality of writing and books shape religious traditions and practices, communities and individuals? – How does the materiality of books and scriptures affect the act of writing? – What practices are linked to the production, transmission and preservation of books? – How does the materiality of scripture influence reception and conservation processes? The issue also has an open section for articles on other topics linked to the profile of JRFM. The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2020. Contributions of 25,000-30,000 characters (including spaces) should be submitted online for peer review through the journal homepage Fore more information, click here.

Short of Material from the Libraries due to the Covid-19 Crisis? Check out the OUP Religion & Literature Collection!

May 13, 2020
Hello everyone,

We are sending you warmest wishes in these difficult times, hoping that you and your families are in good health and good spirits, despite all the restrictions and challenges. We are fine, though we find the remote teaching both in Cambridge and Berlin quite exhausting, not to mention the endless series of online meetings which are necessary due to the crisis. For everyone looking for material on our common topic, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that OUP Religion and Literature journals (such as the Journal of Islamic Studies, The Journal of Theological Studies, the Journal of Hindu Studies, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and many more) have collaborated to curate a collection of articles on the crossover between Religion and Literature. For more information click here.

All best,
John and Almut

Updated article on “Religion and Literature” published by

April 30, 2020

We would like to inform you that the article on “Religion and Literature” published by was recently updated (April 27, 2020). It offers inspiration to think about the complex structure and the multitude of aspects involved in the interrelations of Religion and Literature. If you like this enriching piece, you will also enjoy reading “Critical Theory and Religious Studies,” an article published on the same website. For all those who are not familiar with yet: This online source aggregates information from other published dictionaries, encyclopedias and reference works including pictures and videos. The website is operated by Chicago based company Highbeam Research, a subsidiary of reference publisher Gale, which in itself a subsidiary of Cengage. For the article itself, click here.

Cheers, and stay healthy!

Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.) at Yale with a Concentration on Religion & Literature

March 26, 2020


We would like to inform you that the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School offer a concentrated two-year M.A.R. program in theological study, which allows to pursue advanced work in the field of Religion & Literature. Concentrations are offered in a variety of areas such as Asian Religions, Liturgical Studies, Philosophy of Religion, and Religion and the Arts. Students in the Religion and the Arts concentration elect one of three tracks: Literature, Visual Arts, or Music. Concentration in Religion and Literature emphasizes on the religious dimension of literary works and the theological ramifications of their study. Students are encouraged to make connections between theological content and literary form by focussing on literary study, courses in Bible, theology, and history. Graduates of the program typically go on to doctoral work, to college and secondary school teaching positions, or to publishing. Sample Courses are: “Dante’s Journey to God,” “Religious Themes in Contemporary American Short Fiction,“ “The Psalms in Scripture, Literature, and Music,“ “The Religious Lyric in Britain,“ “Genesis and its Afterlife,“ and “The Passion of Christ in Literature and the Visual Arts.“

For more information, click here.

A Farewell Note from Verena Düntsch

February 28, 2020


It has now been about ten years since I had the privilege of establishing this blog under the guidance of Prof. Almut-Barbara Renger and Prof. John Hamilton. Apart from administrating this blog, much has happened over this past decade, and so, it is time for me to say thank you and good-bye.

It has always been a great pleasure for me to connect to all of the interesting subjects and aspects written in this blog. I have learned so much – and not only in an academic sense but also in a purely technological sense. (Does anyone know how to create a chart in html? Well, now, I do …).

I want to say thank you to Almut-Barbara Renger, John Hamilton and Guangchen Chen for their inspiring work, their patience and their kindness – and I am very happy to pass the administrative role over to Rabea Klein Altstedde, wishing her all the best.

Take care and stay open-hearted!



We Welcome our New Member

December 28, 2019

Please let us introduce you to our new member Rabea Klein Altstedde:

Bild AltsteddeRabea Klein Altstedde was educated in Theatre, Film, and Media Studies at the University of Vienna and received her masters degree in Film Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her masters thesis discussed the use of colour in modern film and its effect on the viewer, focussing on non-verbal storytelling.
Currently she is working on her interdisciplinary dissertation on salvation and saviour figures in Science Fiction movies, fusing Religious Studies and Film Studies.
Her studies are mostly focused on modern films, pop culture, and genre theory, as well as the tactics and psychology used in films to affect their audience. The interdisciplinary work is crucial to her research, as film and other mass media is always influenced by and reflected in current societal development, and vice versa.

New Studies on Literature and Religion

November 25, 2019

We are delighted to announce a new book series on Literature and Religion.

I myself was part of the series’ founding workshop in Vienna at the beginning of 2018. It was one of those rare academic gatherings where you know you are experiencing something very special. Most, if not all, of the issues raised were the subject of intense debate. During the presentations you could have heard a pin drop as everyone listened so intently. And during the breaks we simply had a great time together. I am therefore looking forward with great enthusiasm to the books which will address connections between art or literature and religion from various perspectives. Please, find below the information on the project the three editors Wolfgang Braungart, Joachim Jacob and Jan-Heiner Tück sent us. For more information in German please click here.

Almut Renger

Read more…