Call for Papers

ISRLC Conference 2020

Transmutations & Transgressions

11-13 September 2020
University of Chester

 

Abstracts of no more than 300 words each should be sent directly to the convenors of the relevant panel no later than 16 December 2019. Notice of acceptance will be given by 31 January 2020. Speakers at the conference are limited to a single presentation. Submission to multiple panels is permitted, but we ask that you be clear about this so that convenors may work together to place your paper in the appropriate panel.

Please note that due to industrial action in the United Kingdom the deadline on the CFP has been extended from 1 December to 16 December 2019.

Asian Religions in Global Popular Culture: Speculative Fiction
Convenors: Zhange Ni and James Thrall

This panel invites proposals that explore the conference theme by studying entanglements of Asian religions and speculative fiction on a global scale. Representations of transmutation and transgression permeate speculative fiction, whether the conversions being explored are physical or theoretical, and whether the transgressions are of time, space, substance, or custom. A central question of “What if?” invites consideration of transmutation/transgression of the past/current/familiar to the possible/potential/unfamiliar.

Asian religions play an increasingly prominent role in providing a reservoir of resources for speculative fiction, that is, science fiction and fantasy, most broadly construed. What we mean by speculative fiction is not limited to print literature but covers works in multiple media formats such as print and digital literature, films, TV dramas, and video games. These works are produced/consumed in Asia, the Euro-American West, and/or other parts of the world. In these works, Asian religions may serve as systems of transmutation or as systems to be transgressed, or both. Asian religions may also provide interpretive frameworks for assessing works of speculative fiction.

Suggested specific topics include the influences/representations/perspectives of Asian religions on transmutations/transgressions of:

  • Time—What disruptive or corrective possibilities are opened up by shifts in the temporal plane, whether through time-travel or speculative imaginings of alternative futures or pasts?
  • Power—How might speculation about alternative social systems of governance and custom critique existing assumptions of how life should be lived?
  • Space—How might the material world be reconstituted/reimagined/reconfigured? With what effects?
  • Identity—How might adaptations of human and other species’ forms and capabilities produce wider changes to cultural and social systems?

Please send abstracts (300 words maximum) and a short biography (75 words maximum) to both strand co-chairs:

Zhange Ni (nizhange@vt.edu) and James Thrall (jthrall@knox.edu) no later than 16 December 2019. Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Biblical Studies
 Convenor: Mette Bundvad

Transmutation is at the heart of biblical text.

The needs of the communities that produce and use the biblical texts constantly shift and develop—and when writers and readers change, so do their texts. Literary transformations take place as traditions collide. Old certainties are questioned, sometimes violently, novel frameworks of interpretation taking their place.

This panel welcomes 20-minute papers that explore any aspect of transmutation in and of the biblical texts. Papers that reflect on the transgressive aspects of biblical transmutations are particularly welcome. What is at stake when text-producing communities challenge, rework, or reject old structures of knowledge? Which transmutations occur as new readers receive the biblical texts and bring their own contexts to bear on them? What do the biblical texts themselves have to say about transmutation, and how do they go about promoting or obscuring radical change? And which interpretive strategies might we as academic readers bring to bear on these texts in order to understand better the relationship between power, change, and transformation in and behind them? Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short biography to mettebundvad@gmail.com no later than 16 December 2019. Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Continental Philosophy and Religion
Panel Convenor: Andrew Hass

The Continental Philosophy and Religion Panel invites abstracts for 20-minute papers that consider notions of transmutation and transgression across philosophy, religion/theology and creative endeavour. Ever since Heraclitus announced the impossibility of stepping into the same river twice, questions of change and changeability have accompanied philosophical and theological thought. So too the questions of going beyond our station, our givenness, our facticity and our truth – of not merely stepping into rivers in flux, but of crossing rivers as boundaries. The Panel especially invites papers that explore

  1. the transgressive implications of change between real and ideal, material and immaterial, mythos and logos, passive and active, created and creating, being and nothing, self and other, knowledge and faith, necessity and freedom, praxis and theory, science and imaginary – or, indeed, between binary and unity or multiplicity
  2. metamorphosis, transfiguration, transformation, or alchemy as religio-philosophical tropes
  3. transgression as creation
  4. continental philosophy itself as undergoing a transmutation, either in respect to analytic philosophy, to other non-Western philosophy, or to other disciplines, with attention to the role religion and/or theology might be playing in any such transformation 

All proposals should have continental philosophy clearly in view. Abstracts that seek interdisciplinary engagement between philosophy, religion/theology and the arts will receive special consideration, as will those that try to go beyond merely historical analysis.

Queries and proposals of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement, should be sent to Andrew Hass (University of Stirling) at andrew.hass@stir.ac.uk no later than 16 December 2019. Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Ecotheologies: Culture, Nature and Religion
Convenor: Anna Fisk

This panel seeks contributions which explore the relationship between spiritual and ecological imaginaries in literature and culture. In the face of ecological and climate crisis, we ask how religion may be part of a re-imagining of the human relationship with the natural world.

Since the publication of the IPCC report in autumn 2018, which states that ‘limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’, there are been a wave of climate crisis activism across the globe, and the beginnings of a shift in the environmental rhetoric used by politicians and the mainstream media. This panel asks if this is a transmutation of the ecological imaginary; if what we are seeing is a genuine change or a continuation or reworking on what has gone before. Groups such as Extinction Rebellion have transgressed rules of the received-wisdom of previous environmental movements, including drawing on religious language of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘redemption’ as well as ‘apocalypse’. This panels invites critical engagements with such messaging, as well as discussions of how contemporary religion is creatively responding to an age of ‘climate emergency’.We welcome 300-word proposals for 20-minute presentations, whether formal papers or creative performances. We are also open to proposals for 90-minute panels which use an alternative format, provided there are multiple contributors. All proposals should be emailed, along with a brief author bio, to anna.fisk@glasgow.ac.uk no later than 16 December 2019. Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Gender
Convenors: Alison Jasper and Dawn Llewellyn

Gender, feminist and women’s studies, and gender activism have always walked a tightrope between transformation, transmutation and transgression.

Attempts to transform existing structures and practices have often been dismissed – at least initially –  as unacceptable transgressions, seeming to ignore the fact that transgression is often a precursor to change and transformation we come to embrace. This panel invites proposals that explicitly address the themes of the conference – transformations, transmutations, transgressions – across gender, religion, culture, theology, literature, and the arts. Potential themes include (but are not limited to): 

  •  inequalities in the academy – race, gender, religion, sexuality class, ableism, age 
  •  religion, gender, and activism 
  •  the relationships between literature and the arts, and gender and religion 
  •  religious feminisms and agency 
  •  queer theory, religion, and the arts
  •  the body 

Please send abstracts (around 300 words) for 20-minute presentations and queries to d.llewellyn@chester.ac.uk and a.e.jasper@stir.ac.uk no later than 16 December 2019. We also welcome alternative formats and suggestions for panels. Please do get in touch if you have any questions.

Islam
Convenor: Amanullah de Sondy

This panel seeks contributions which explore transnational Muslim identity. In particular, we are interested in papers which explore the relationship that second and subsequent generation Muslim immigrants have to poetry and music from their parents’ homeland. The familial and emotional ties these new generations of Muslims have to their parents’ homelands cannot be underestimated. These ties are infused through language, literature, and the arts (music, poetry, visual art, film, television) and the cultural consumption—and production—of these subsequent generations troubles the popular assumption of a cultural dichotomy between Islam and the West. Abstracts of no more than 300 words for papers addressing this topic, along with a brief author biography, should be sent to amanullah.desondy@ucc.ie no later than 16 December 2019 Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Judaism
Convenor: Marianne Schleicher 

Judaism is famous for its permeating boundary drawings between dos and don’ts in its religious, ritual-like, and otherwise identificatory acts. Simultaneously, it is famous for keeping its number of heretics at a minimum, often reduced to Jesus, Aher, Tsvi, and maybe Spinoza (e.g. Biale 2002). One should think that many boundaries would generate many heresies in resistance to the identificatory bonds that not only bind, but even constrict. This does not seem to be the case in Judaism. Still, Judaism defends its boundaries like any other culture and has its arsenal of processes by which it others internal transgressors into material and cultural states of unintelligibility.

In line with the overall theme of “transmutations and transgressions” for the 2020 ISRLC conference, the Judaism Panel invites papers willing to analyse and reflect on religious, literary, and cultural examples of transgression in the course of Jewish history and thought. It encourages papers that consider what local material and cultural intra-actions brought Jews to transgress or defend Jewish laws, norms, configurations, and expectations. What were the effects of such transgressions? What theories coupled with situated knowledges might explain why some transgressions provoked processes of othering, sanctions, and violence, while other transgressions were perceived as transmutations of benefit to Jewish culture and in some cases even enabled Judaism to survive and thrive?

Please send proposals and abstracts (around 300 words) and a short bio to Associate Professor in Jewish Studies, Dr. Marianne Schleicher, ms@cas.au.dk. The deadline for submissions is 16 December 2019 Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Literature
Convenors: Jeff Keuss and Mark Knight

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers on literature and the conference theme of transgressions and transformations. Papers should address literature written in or translated into English, from any period, and may think about texts formally, theoretically, historically, and/or thematically. Possible topics include:

  •  Gothic Literature
  •  Hope
  •  Texts and their Readers/Audiences/Afterlives
  •  Metamorphosis and/or Mutation
  •  Blasphemy
  •  The Postsecular and the Postcritical

Please send abstracts (300 words maximum) and a short biography (75 words maximum) to both strand co-chairs: Jeff Keuss (keussj@spu.edu) and Mark Knight (m.knight@lancaster.ac.uk). The deadline for submissions is 16 December 2019. Speakers at the conference will only be allowed to give one presentation so if you are submitting to another panel as well as literature please us know (so that we can liaise with the chairs of the other strands).

Material Religion
Convenor: Petra Carlsson

Everyday objects, thingies, stuff, holy things, random things, words, media, film, visual art objects, architecture, city planning, critters, trees, melting ice, migrating bodies. The Material Religion Panel is interested in material aspects of reality in relation to culture, philosophy, theology and politics.  

In keeping with the conference theme, we especially welcome papers dealing with the materiality of borders and transgressions, and of material transmutations as political and cultural as well as philosophical and theological expressions.  

Proposals of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement, should be mailed to petra.carlsson@ehs.se no later than 16 December 2019. Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Music
Convenor: Nils Holger Petersen

In music, a transmutation from another medium into music or within the musical medium may take place as composers and/or music performers appropriate ideas, notions, texts, or images, or create new music by appropriating other music. Transgression in music occurs historically in social contexts where certain stylistic features define the limits of the acceptable. This has happened in (historical) religious communities, not least concerning liturgical music, but also in political contexts, especially in totalitarian regimes. Creating music by transmutation may be deemed a transgression within a community if the transformation involved appears as an abuse of canonical ideas within the community in question. Two examples illustrate such phenomena. 1/ The demand nihil profanum for liturgical music in the acts of the Tridentine Council implies the view that music may transgress the sacred. Similar thoughts are found much later in the Caecilian movement as well as in contemporary liturgical thinking in various contexts. Conversely, it is not uncommon to think that music is capable of expressing sentiments of “the holy” musically, thus seemingly transmuting the notion of the holy into music. 2/ The idea of socialist music as practised in Soviet Russia implied the idea that music could express (transmute?) socialist ideology in compositions and simultaneously involved the possibility within that society of music transgressing socialist values.

Proposals concerning the two-way problematic of transgressive & transmuting music are welcomed for twenty-minute presentations, based on theoretical discussions or on concrete (historical) examples.   

Abstracts of no more than 300 words, together with a short biographical statement, can be sent to nhp@teol.ku.dk by 16 December 2019. Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Postcolonialism
Convenor: Fiona Darroch

Postcolonial literature, culture, and theory, in all the varied mutations, possibilities and intersections, are ideal sites from which to engage with the 2020 conference topic of Transmutation and Transgression.

Transgression and transmutation occur in acts of resistance to imposed (material and non-material) boundaries. With this in mind, the following questions and themes are of particular interest:

  •  Transmutations that occur as gods and humans re-vision Euro-Christian ways of seeing and believing;
  •  Challenges to standardised imperial and patriarchal language within written and spoken art forms;
  •  How is transmutation (as captured by writers and practitioners) evident in the oscillation between the material and non-material (visioned as a conversation rather than a binary)?
  •  How are the themes enacted during fights against exploitation and neo-colonial violence?
  •  In what ways do theories of mimicry and hybridity engage with the themes of transmutation and transgression?
  •  Or, if transmutation and transgression is fully realised, in what language will you speak, and how will you be heard?

We welcome abstracts (of no more than 300 words) for twenty-minute papers that can articulate the distinct ways in which postcolonial writers, theorists and traditions, mutate and destabilise hegemonic centres across the world. 

Please send abstracts along with a short biographical statement to fiona.darroch@stir.ac.uk no later than 16 December 2019. Please let us know If you are submitting an abstract to more than one panel.

Religious & Inter-Religious Studies
Convenor: Alana M. Vincent

“Religion” is an inherently instable concept; both actual religions and the very notion of what religion is undergo countless transmutations in response to changes in the social conditions in which they exist, but the very notion of religion invites—and perhaps even demands—transgression. This instability is particularly apparent when multiple religious systems exist in dialogue with each other: one religion’s piety is another’s transgression (as in BT Avodah Zarah 44b).  This panel invites papers that consider portrayals of religious change and transgression in literature, film, theatre, and visual art. We are particularly interested in papers which explore these tensions in regard to religious pluralism, syncretism, and multiple religious belonging.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, together with a short biographical statement, to alana.vincent@gmail.com no later than 16 December 2019. We also welcome alternative formats and suggestions for panels. Please let us know If you are submitting an abstract to more than one panel.

Teaching and Learning
Convenor: Hannah M. Altorff

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, We will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)

Teaching and learning in higher education of subjects such as religious studies, theology, philosophy or literature is often claimed to be transformative. This claim raises several questions. What are the boundaries of transformation? When does transformation become transmutation or transgression? Who is responsible?

This panel invites participants to reflect on these questions in relation to their own practice as teachers and learners. They are encouraged to present these reflections in transformative formats.  Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement, to hm.altorff@stmarys.ac.uk no later than 16 December 2019. Please let us know If you are submitting an abstract to more than one panel.

Theological Humanism
Convenor: Dan Boscaljon

Theological humanism explores the power of a limited theology and an ennobled humanity. Avoiding the extremes of hypertheism and overhumanization, which pursue certainty and imperil wonder, theological humanism navigates a third way. Its orientation is toward finding awe in the limited, the temporary, the uncertain. 

This year’s set of panels explores, as theological humanism, the capacity to identify the infinite within the finite. This work occurs on a series of different interdisciplinary areas. It can illuminate the practical radical theological potential of the finite to interrupt the flow of social circuits of power hierarchies. It provides language toward the theoretical task of obtaining a divine perspective over the world. It investigates how to preserve an immanent distance rather than an all-seeing vastness.

Methodologically, papers are invited to consider what possibilities are opened when slowing down the process of conceptualization and its tendency toward the trancendent through the infinitude of word: what new (finite) spaces emerge, and what might these reveal about theological humanism?

In terms of theoretical perspectives, consider exploring understandings of the power of the finite in generating a power of resistance or opening forms of limited potentiality: new materialism, object oriented theologies, weak and immanent theology, radical theology, performance theory. 

In terms of content, consider situating your paper in terms of one of the following points of conversation: 

Track I: Alchemy and Art(ifacts)

  • How are contemporary art forms (dance, sculpture, intermedia, painting, spoken word) that create finite and impermanent art works an important presentation of artistic potential? How does this approach to art making make arguments for a deeper appreciation of overlooked matter within art? How necessary or possible is preservation in the alchemy of art?

Track II: Apotheosis and the Anthropic

  • Dive into the depths of the human: what finite capacities of the human interrupt the patriarchal, hierarchical, heterosexual assumptions that constellate our contemporary human society?

Track III: Power and Possibility

  • Consider the space of community (ephemeral, local, unplanned, unspoken, inoperative) as interrupting traditional (hierarchical) flows of power. How might embracing limited acts of resistance provide a foundation for social change?

Track IV: Stories and Symbols 

  • Consider the point before a story transforms into a concentrated symbolic form, or ways that stories and narratives render iconoclastic services.

Track V: Writing and Ritual

  • Examine the process of conscription, ways that rituals write new understandings of being into adjacent possibilities. Consider what connects spells and spelling, the interface between the human and inhuman worlds: what matters or materializes when language births a new possibility?

Abstracts of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement, can be sent to daniel.boscaljon@gmail.com no later than 16 December 2019. Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.

Visual Art
Convenor: Lieke Wijnia

While Jürgen Habermas has employed the notion of translation as key for religion and the secular to co-exist in the public sphere, the notions of transmutation and transgression provide fruitful roads of enquiry into understanding the transformational potential of visual art in contemporary postsecular societies. While translation suggests the necessity of an intermediary, transmutation and transgression presuppose the nature of the intermediary’s work. It presupposes a transformation process into novelty. Artistic visions gaining prevalence in societal configurations are known to contribute to reconsiderations of existing values, worldviews, and power structures. The overall question, then, becomes: If a postsecular sphere is characterized by new formations of religion and the secular, to what extent have these new formations produced transgressive forms of the sacred? Artists render the invisible visible through images, materials, and bodies. By becoming part of institutionalized frameworks – galleries, museums, and media – art becomes a societal voice and force. At the same time, art is generally seen to embody an open and free discursive space, where transgression (or, at least, the potential for transgression) is inherently present. Topics for consideration in this ISRLC panel are: how art transgresses invisible boundaries with visible means; the public reception of artistic transgressive perceptions of the sacred; the impact of transformed professional roles (e.g. when artistic voices are curatorial instruments, when curators are activists, when artists conduct research; when spectators become participants); and what it is that follows the transgressive act once art gains place in the public sphere. Papers on transformative negotiations between artists, their work, their audiences, and institutional contexts are particularly welcomed.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words, together with a short biographical statement, can be sent to l.wijnia@catharijneconvent.nl no later than 16 December 2019. Speakers will only be allowed to give one presentation at the conference. If you are submitting to another panel as well, please give a hint about that.