CFP: Religion and Spirituality in Literature and the Arts







The English Department of the University of Bucharest invites proposals for the Literature and Cultural Studies section of its 17th Annual Conference:


Religion and Spirituality in Literature and the Arts


Dates: 4–6 June, 2015

Venue: The Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures,

Str. Pitar Mos 7–13, Bucharest, Romania


Research in literary studies, and the humanities generally, has seen during the last two decades a renewed interest in the role of religion in culture, a development sometimes known as the ‘Religious Turn’. Part of this development has involved a revisionary approach to the assumption that modernity is characterised by ever increasing secularisation, Charles Taylor spearheading a movement aiming to achieve a more nuanced understanding of what secularisation entails—while, of course, the key role of religion in pre-modern and non-Western cultural products has always been widely acknowledged.

One facet of the investigation of what secularisation means is the recognition that intimations of the transcendent in modern literature and other modern arts may be inspired by various forms of spirituality that fall outside the field of traditional organised religion—and indeed the influence of such spiritual movements may not be limited to the modern era. On the other hand, there is currently a lively dialogue between the study of literature and the arts, on the one hand, and theology, on the other, as witnessed by the recent flourishing of such fields of study as ‘literature and religion’, and ‘theological aesthetics’. Prominent theologians and theological schools have made aesthetics and the arts a key concern in their work—for example Hans Urs von Balthasar, and the Anglican ‘Radical Orthodoxy’ school (e.g. Catherine Pickstock, Alison Milbank). Inheritors (and creators) of the structuralist and post-structuralist traditions (e.g. Ricoeur, Kristeva, Derrida) have also increasingly, in their more recent work, shown an interested in religious concepts and thinkers.

Theoretical approaches to the possible similarity or coincidence between the modes of cognition involved in religious/spiritual conviction/knowledge and aesthetic perception/knowledge have proliferated during the last century, philosophical traditions involved including phenomenology, post-structuralism, neo-Thomism, and Eastern Orthodox thought. On the other hand, the twentieth-century debate included discourses which viewed art in terms which made no provision for or even disallowed a relationship of special relevance with religion (e.g. art as political protest, art as social institution).

We invite papers in English addressing topics including (but by no means limited to) the following:

˗ religion or other spirituality in the works or life of literary figures or artists (literature, visual arts, music, film, theatre, dance, etc.);

˗ secularisation and its re-evaluations;

˗ theology in literature or other arts, or theological approaches to literature and other arts;

˗ the ‘Religious Turn’;

˗ interpretations of apparently non-religious writers or artist as religious, or vice-versa;

˗ comparisons, relationships, and/or contestations between religion and other spiritualities in literature and the arts;

˗ relationships between different religious traditions as active in works of literature or other works of art;

– mysticism in literature and the arts today and in the past;

– philosophical approaches to the link between aesthetic and religious cognition;

– contestations of the relevance of art to religion or spirituality;

– national and transnational religious connections mediated by art and literature;

– the religious imaginary and its symbols today and in the past;

–  artistic and literary testimonials about negotiating a place for religion in cultural memory archives ;

– the devotional connection in artistic and literary resistance to totalitarianism;

– religion as a stimulus for post-communist art and literature.

Presentations should be in English, and will be allocated 20 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for discussion. Prospective participants are invited to submit abstracts of up to 200 words in Word format. Proposals should also include name and institutional affiliation, a short bio (no more than 100 words), and e-mail address. Proposals for panel discussions (to be organized by the participant) will also be considered.


A selection of papers from the conference will be published in University of Bucharest Review (ISSN 2069–8658; listed on EBSCO, CEEOL, Ulrichsweb, and SCOPUS; CNCS category B).


Deadline for proposals: 15 March 2015

Please send proposals (and enquiries) to

The conference fee of 50 euro (or 200 lei if paid in Romanian currency) is payable in cash on registration, and covers lunches and refreshments during the conference, but not evening meals.


For further details and updates, see .

Enquiries regarding the Linguistics section of the conference, which will be running at the same time as the Literature and Cultural Studies section, should be sent to .


We look forward to welcoming you in Bucharest.


The organizing team

Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru

James Brown

Eliana Ionoaia

Dragoș Manea

Martin Potter

Ioana Zirra