Our 18th biennial ISRCL conference, this year in Glasgow, Scotland, is now behind us. For yet another year, participants were privileged to a variegated and enriching feast of stimulating discussion and debate, of intense intellectual engagement, and of local cultural exposure, this time around the theme of Lines in the Sand: Borders, Conflicts and Transitions. Across 17 different panels and 42 sessions, over 150 registrants presented papers, with an ever-expanding global reach: countries represented included USA, Canada, UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Israel, India, South Africa, Taiwan, China (mainland and Hong Kong), Japan, and (perhaps for the first time, and winner of the furthest afield) Fiji. As always, we owe a great debt to the conference organisers headed by Heather Walton and Anna Fisk of the Centre for Literature, Theology and the Arts at the University of Glasgow, who worked tirelessly with their team to host such a strong and inspiring event. Many thanks to all of them for advancing in their unique manner, within its distinctly Scottish setting, our tradition of blending high quality with an interdisciplinary, yet intimate, ethos.
Two keynote speakers contributed to this ethos in differing but exemplary ways: Prof. Tim Ingold (Aberdeen) with a lecture entitled “Lines of Correspondence”, and Prof. Catherine Keller (Drew), who presented this year’s Literature and Theology Annual Lecture entitled “Lines in the Innumerable: Enmity, Exceptionalism and Entanglement”. These lectures were filmed, and will soon be available online for viewing on the Lines in Sand blog at www.linesinsand2016.wordpress.com. Special mention was also given to Prof. David Jasper (Glasgow), the only pioneering figure still regularly participating in the conferences. Prof. Jasper helped to launch the first conference in Durham back in 1982, and then became the first General Editor of Literature and Theology, the journal that emerged out of these early events. Acknowledgement was given to Prof. Jasper’s enduring legacy as a driving force behind what has now become an internationally recognised centre of enquiry and exploration, marked precisely by the courage to rethink disciplinary borders, and the conflicts and transitions that arise in crossing them.
As is now the custom, panel convenors have been asked to put forward sessional papers of exceptional quality they felt best embodied the conference theme and the Society’s spirit. From these, editors of Literature and Theology will once again draw out a top list of six or seven, spanning the range of themes and panels, which will then feature in a special issue to emerge next year.
Apart from the filmed keynote lectures, we did not officially appoint anyone to document the event throughout the three days. If, however, you find good quality photos on your camera/phone/device that you do not mind passing on for public consumption, please do send them on. We’ll compile a series for the website, along with other conference details. Send in the first instance to Alana Vincent at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the business meeting, it was agreed that, with the evolving and expanding needs of the Society, and its integral relationship to Literature and Theology, the present ISRLC board needs reconfiguring, and a more formal framework for membership and Societal operations needs to be established. To this end, a transitional board has been set up to begin the process of a restructure, to be completed in time for ratification at next conference’s business meeting in 2018. Further details will be given along the way.
Finally, in relation to 2018, and the 19th iteration of the conference, we can happily announce that those at the University of Uppsala, Sweden have offered to be our hosts. We are very grateful for their enthusiastic willingness, and ask that you now mark the event in your mental diaries. Exact details of timing and dates, falling within the traditional Sept-Oct. window, will be given in due course. Please keep your eye on this website.
Thanks again to all who participated in Glasgow. We trust you have returned home energised, and all the better equipped to carry forward the hopes and challenges generated by the rich discussions, both in sessions and in afterhours socialising, the last weekend afforded us in abundance.
International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture