In October 2006, the 13th biennial ISRLC Conference was held at the University of Stirling, Scotland. During and following that conference, some important decisions about the future of the ISRLC were taken.
Since the early 1980s, what is now called the International Society of Religion, Literature and Culture has organized a biennial international scholarly conference for a steadily growing, and increasingly international and interdisciplinary, group of attendants. It has done so in collaboration with different universities, both in the United Kingdom and in mainland Europe, but also with an expanding interest from those further afield (e.g. North and South America, South Korea and South Africa). Closely connected to the ISRLC is the journal Literature and Theology: An International Journal of Religion, Theory and Culture, published by Oxford University Press.
From the beginning, David Jasper had a key role in the increasing success of the ISRLC. With him and Elisabeth Jay stepping down from the board, a new phase in the life of the Society starts. A new Board hopes to facilitate this new phase.
Members of the Board, starting October 2006, are:
- Erik Borgman (president), Professor of Systematic Theology, Tilburg University
- Andrew Hass (secretary), School of Languages, Religions and Cultures, University of Stirling, UK; Senior Editor of Literature and Theology
- Carl-Reinhold Bråkenhielm, Faculty of Theology, University of Uppsala, Sweden
- Darlene Bird, School of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds, UK
- Georg Langenhorst, Catholic Theological Faculty, University of Augsburg, Germany
- Kirsten Nielsen, Faculty of Theology, University of Aarhus, Denmark
- S. Brent Plate, Department of Religion, Texas Christian University, USA
In the coming period, the board considers its task to include:
- finding ways to continue the success of the conferences
- designing and implementing a workable structure that can provide what is necessary to support the organization of these conferences
- binding key figures in the field of religion, literature and culture to this structure
- finding ways to strengthen the relation between institutions and approaches in the field of religion, literature and culture in the United Kingdom and North America on one hand, and in mainland Europe (German speaking countries and Scandinavia especially) and beyond on the other hand
- combining the current broadness of the discussions at the interface of religion, literature and culture with a growing depth in theoretical and interdisciplinary exchange
- working at positioning anew the field of religion, literature and culture in the changing situation of the study of and theological reflection upon religion
Next Conference: Aarhus University, Denmark, 17-19 October 2008
The title of the next ISRLC Conference will be:
Breaking the Norms: Reception, Transformation and Transgression in Religion, Literature and Culture
At this conference, questions like the following will be raised and discussed:
- Has modern literature replaced Scripture and become the medium for finding norms for life, answers to ethical questions, material for new ethical thinking and for the construction of identity?
- Can a “rewritten Bible” — understood in terms of how the Bible is first received, and then transgressed and transformed — be a new authoritative/normative text? If so, what is it in the text or outside the text that gives it this authority?
- Why are images, both still and moving, considered by some groups more dangerous to religion than words, while other groups see them as a fruitful or even necessary way to express religious ideas and feelings?
- Why are some religions more open to artistic renderings/creations of gods or holy persons than other religions?
We hope to see you all in Denmark.
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