2016 Conference (archive)

The 18th Biennial Conference for the International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture

Lines in Sand

Borders, Conflicts and Transitions in Religion, Literature and Culture

University of Glasgow

9-11 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.

Voices in literature and theology are now being heard from many different and divergent cultural situations. We are members of a global community in which the arts function as important sites for articulating the cost of conflicts and imagining transformed futures. The theme of this conference, ‘Lines in Sand’ recalls the importance of our provisional attempts to inscribe hope and resistance in an era of conflict, anxiety and environmental destruction.

In this age of tension between religions and cultures in such places as Iraq and Syria, this conference also prompts a renewed exploration of desert spirituality as a way forward in addressing issues of religious and racial conflict, ecological crisis, and economic instability. In recognition of the Scottish context of this Glasgow conference, we also invite discussion of the Celtic tradition’s relocation of desert spirituality to these islands. The subject of borderlands also speaks to the current debates concerning citizenship in Scotland and around the world, in the twin context of globalization on one hand, and renewed nationalisms on the other.

Topics inspired by the ‘Lines in Sand’ theme may include:

  • interdisciplinary scholarship in theology and the arts as ‘life on the borders’
  • cross-cultural and inter-religious engagement in literature, theology and the arts
  • creative and theological responses to conflict and division
  • literary and artistic explorations of the asceticism and aesthetics of desert spirituality
  • responses in literature and theology to environmental crises
  • reclaiming the boundaries of national and cultural identity in religion, literature and the arts
  • sexuality and gender as borderline positions

The Call for Papers is now open. Proposals are due to panel convenors no later than 18 April 2016.

Registration is now open. If you are applying for a bursary, please do not register until you have received confirmation of the result of your application. Guidance on applying can be found here.